The ORCA smart card is a regional fare system involving King County Metro Transit and six partner transportation agencies. ORCA stands for One Regional Card for All, and is designed to make traveling easier and more convenient.
The ORCA card is a plastic smart card containing a microprocessor. ORCA cards come equipped with an “e-purse” function that allows a rider to preload fare value onto the card, or customers can purchase a pass product – such as the monthly PugetPass – and load it onto their ORCA card. It eliminates the need for correct change, or carrying around paper passes and transfers.
Passengers simply “tap” their ORCA card on a card reader on board buses or at train, light rail and ferry stations, and enjoy their ride. With each trip, the correct fare, including any transfer value, is automatically deducted.
ORCA cards work on Metro, Community Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and Washington State Ferries. Together, the agencies serve more than half of Washington’s population in four counties and together carry about 500,000 riders each weekday.
You can still pay cash when you ride these systems, but there are several advantages for you when you use an ORCA card.
Transit passes throughout the region are switching to ORCA. If you have a pass, you can keep using it until it expires, but when it’s time to get a new one, you’ll need to get an ORCA card and load it up with that new pass.
Also, starting Jan. 1, 2010 paper transfers will be replaced with electronic transfers on ORCA cards for trips that involve transferring between agencies.
If you’re not already using an ORCA card, you may have a few questions and need some tips getting started. You can visit the ORCA website’s Customer Support section, and also see answers to some frequently asked questions Metro has been fielding recently.
Don’t let the old year swim away, before you get your new ORCA card!