Last Updated: May 9, 2022

What is public transportation and how do I use it?

Public transportation (i.e. buses, trains, etc.) is generally the most affordable way to get around. Most public transit is run by counties. You can find information about local transit agencies on the WSDOT website and at the end of this page.

How can I get reduced bus fare?

Most counties in Washington have reduced fare programs for seniors and people with disabilities. If you have a disability, you will need a doctor’s verification (such as from your prison doctor). Some regions provide transit passes to agencies serving homeless and/or low-income people. Contact your local transit authority to find out what programs exist and if you are eligible.

What can I do if I am banned from public transit?

Check with your Classification Counselor before you are released about possible public transit restrictions. If you know you have a public transit ban, you can write a letter to the transit authority asking them to reconsider the ban, or to the judge if it is court-imposed. Your letter should describe: when and why you were banned; what you need public transit for (for ex, school or work); and changes in your life that allow you to use public transit responsibly. Along with the letter, include any relevant evidence, like proof of income, employment, school enrollment, rehabilitation, etc.

Are there other ways to get around without owning my own car if public transit is not convenient?

If you have a smartphone with data, you can download ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft. They are like taxis, except drivers use their own car. These services are more expensive than riding the bus, but they are faster and can be useful if you lack other transit options. You will need a credit or debit card to use these services.

What if I can’t get to my medical appointments?

If you have Apple Health (Medicaid) and limited transit access, you may be able to get financial help or even get actual transportation for medical appointments. To qualify, you must have: a current ProviderOne services card; no other way to reach your appointment; and insurance coverage for your appointment. Contact the WA State Health Care Authority (1-800-562-3022) one to two weeks before your appointment to request non-emergency medical transportation.

What if I want to drive my own car? What should I know before buying a car?

To drive your own car, you will need: a valid driver’s license and auto insurance. If you want to buy a car, make sure to do research. In general, check a potential car’s Vehicle Identification Number. If you take out a loan, remember that interest payments can sometimes cost you much more in the long run. If you buy from a private party (not a dealer), you will have 15 days after purchasing to transfer ownership into your name, and you will need to submit relevant forms and fees to a WA Department of Licensing office.

How do I get a disabled parking placard?

If you are temporarily or permanently disabled, you may be eligible for a disabled parking placard. Eligibility rules and application.

Do I need auto insurance in order to drive in WA?

Yes. Under Washington’s mandatory auto insurance law, you can either carry auto insurance, carry self-insurance (if you own more than 26 vehicles), or obtain a certificate of deposit by making a deposit of at least $60,000.

Auto insurance is the most frequent choice and provides coverage for property, medical expenses, and liability. If you get auto insurance, you will be issued an insurance card. You should be prepared to show it anytime you are driving and you may be issued a ticket if you are pulled over and do not have your card.

Statewide Transportation Programs

Puget Sound Regional Reduced Fare Permit

Apply with your region’s participating transit agency.

This permit can be temporary or permanent, and entitles people 65 years of age and older, people with a Medicare Card and people with a disability to reduced fares throughout the Puget Sound Region. This Region includes: Clallam Transit, Community Transit, Everett Transit, Intercity Transit, Jefferson Transit, King County Metro Transit, King County Water Taxi, Kitsap Transit, Mason Transit, Pierce County Ferries, Pierce Transit, Skagit Transit, Sound Transit, Washington State Ferries, and Whatcom Transportation Authority.

You may apply online, in person, or call 360-757-4433 or toll-free at 877-584-7528 to have an application mailed to you. Review the Medical Eligibility requirements. Once you have filled out the application, you must bring it to one of the two locations below. Before going, review the application carefully to learn what type of proof you much show to obtain the card.

You must show a valid Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) when paying a discounted fare.

Angel Flight West

3161 Donald Douglas Loop South Santa Monica, CA 90405 (headquarters)
310-390-2958

Angel Flight West is a charitable organization whose mission is help people get to their medical treatment. Most of our flights are provided by volunteers – private pilots who fly their own airplanes and donate the costs of the flight. We also work with airline partners for trips from Alaska and Hawaii. The beneficiaries of the flight – the passengers and their families, the healthcare organizations – pay nothing at all, ever.

Kitsap County Transportation Services

Access – Kitsap County Paratransit

60 Washington Ave., Suite 200, Bremerton, WA 98337
360-373-2877

Provide shared ride paratransit services for seniors and people with disabilities who are unable to use Kitsap Transit regular routed buses some or all of the time. Applications available online.

Reduced Fare & Regional Reduced Fare ORCA Cards, Kitsap Transit

60 Washington Ave., Suite 200, Bremerton, WA 98337
360-373-2877

Regional Reduced Fare Program (RRFP)

As the holder of an RRFP ORCA card you receive a discount on the region’s bus systems. Apply in person at the Kitsap Transit office. Must bring proof that you are either a Medicare recipient, a senior, or disabled (full list of accepted materials for proof accessible online). Your first RRFP card is free.

Reduced Fare ORCA Card

Available to youth ages 6-18 and those who are low-income. Must bring either proof of age or proof of income (full list of accepted materials for proof accessible online) to the Kitsap County Transit office. Will be charged a reduced rate when using an ORCA card with a pass or E-Purse. ORCA card is free with program.

Suquamish Tribe Transportation

18490 Suquamish Way Suquamish, WA 98392
360-598-3311

Suquamish Tribal Members may be eligible for Transportation services. These can be accessed by calling the main number or coming in to fill out a “Transportation Request Form”. This form needs to be filled out and turned in at least 48 hours prior to the appointment.

Pierce County Transportation Services

Pierce Transit – Regional Reduced Bus Fare Permit

505 East 25th Street, Tacoma 98421
253-581-8000

Discounts for seniors, individuals with a disability and Medicare Card holders: if you are 65 or older, have a qualifying doctor-verified disability, or have a Medicare card you may ride for a discounted fare. You must show a valid Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) when paying a discounted fare. The initial card will be free. A replacement card will be $3. Please bring proof of age, S.S. I. disability award letter, VA paperwork with 40% or more disability, a valid Medicare card, or a Washington Department of Licensing issued identification card for a disabled parking placard and another government photo ID.

Pierce Transit – SHUTTLE

3701 96th St. SW Lakewood, WA 98499 (Headquarters)

Customer Service: 253-581-8000 (Option 1, then Option 2)

A shared-ride service for people who, because of their disability, are unable to ride a regular Pierce Transit bus. SHUTTLE provides door- to-door service, or in some instances, transportation to transit centers or bus stops to connect with regular bus service. Eligibility criteria means meeting one of the following conditions set by the Federal Americans with Disabilities Act: You are functionally unable to get on or off a transit bus, even with use of a wheelchair lift; you are physically unable to get to or from a regular Pierce Transit bus stop; you are unable to understand and follow transit directions or understand information signs for reasons other than language. To become eligible for SHUTTLE, you must complete a certification process. This involves filling out an application explaining the limitations caused by your disability. The certification process may take up to 21 days after we receive your completed application.

Tacoma Link Light Rail

888-889-6368

Riding the Tacoma link is free until 2022. The link travels 1.6 miles through downtown Tacoma, making six stops along the way. Tacoma Link trains run every 12 minutes most of the day on weekdays and Saturday, and every 24 minutes on Sunday.

The Mustard Seed Project of Key Peninsula

9016 154th Avenue CT. NW Lakebay, WA 98349
253-884-2216

Our senior transportation program is organized into two distinct options (at no charge, donations accepted):

  • Individual Door through Door services: Individually scheduled rides to medical appointments, grocery shopping and other essential destinations for pre-registered riders. Rides are scheduled 7 days or more in advance. Eligibility: Riders must live on the Key Peninsula and have a household income of less than $3,000 per month after deducting out-of-pocket medical expenses and riders must be age 60+ or an adult with disabilities.
  • Community Solutions Mini-Bus (wheelchair accessible): We partner with Pierce Transit to provide this service under their guidelines. Regularly scheduled group transportation to Key Peninsula Community Services’ Senior Lunch, Gig Harbor destinations, and the YMCA for pre-registered riders. Additional stops on the route can be arranged in advance for pre-registered riders when the schedule allows. Off-route trips can occasionally be scheduled in advance for pre-registered riders as driver availability permits. Eligibility: Riders must live on the Key Peninsula and there is no income eligibility and riders must be age 60+ or an adult with disability.

Skagit County Transportation Services

Skagit Transit – Regional Reduced Fare Permit

360-757-8801

This permit can be temporary or permanent, and entitles people 65 years of age and older, people with a Medicare Card and people with a disability to reduced fares throughout the Puget Sound Region. This Region includes: Clallam Transit, Community Transit, Everett Transit, Intercity Transit, Jefferson Transit, King County Metro Transit, King County Water Taxi, Kitsap Transit, Mason Transit, Pierce County Ferries, Pierce Transit, Skagit Transit, Sound Transit, Washington State Ferries, and Whatcom Transportation Authority.

You may apply online, in person, or call 360-757-4433 or toll-free at 877-584-7528 to have an application mailed to you. Review the Medical Eligibility requirements. Once you have filled out the application, you must bring it to one of the two locations below. Before going, review the application carefully to learn what type of proof you much show to obtain the card.

You must show a valid Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) when paying a discounted fare.

Skagit Transit’s Paratransit Program (formerly Dial-A-Ride)

360-757-9191

Skagit Transit’s Paratransit is a public service, which provides specialized transportation comparable with Skagit Transit’s fixed-route bus service. It is a pre-scheduled service designed for people who are unable to get to the nearest bus stop or use a fixed-route bus. Based on the review of an application for Paratransit service, you may receive curb to curb service, curb to fixed-route service or fixed route service only (with training). You must apply either online here or by calling the number below.

Skagit Transit – Vanpooling

360-757-8801 or toll-free at 877-584-7528 and ask for the Vanpool Coordinator

A vanpool is a group of three to fifteen people who regularly travel together to work, 20 miles or more, in a comfortable van. Vanpoolers can shave an average of 20 minutes off of their commute time by using the HOV lanes and lower the stress and expense of driving alone. Skagit Transit provides the van, fuel, and maintenance in exchange for a monthly fare. Riders typically meet at a designated location such as one of our many Park and Rides. Some vans have more than one pick-up or drop-off point. It all depends on the nature and needs of each vanpool group.

There is a Vanpool Manager/Coordinator and Bookkeeper who primarily collects monthly fees from the passengers, completes the monthly reports andschedules the van for preventative maintenance. There should be at least three qualified drivers per van.To join an existing vanpool, or to find others interested in forming one in your area, call us or go to RideshareOnLine.com.For more information, go to the website below.

Northwest Regional Council Medicaid Transportation

1-800-860-6812 or 1-800-585-6749

The NWRC arranges non-ambulance transportation to all people eligible for Medicaid who have no other means of transportation to covered medical services in Island, San Juan, Skagit and Whatcom counties. It assures that the transportation authorized is the “most appropriate, least costly” method for providing the service, that is to the “nearest provider of type” of service needed.

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