A graphic of a hand tapping an ORCA card on a card reader, with a Link train in the background.
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The new and improved ORCA system will offer a mobile app to manage your account and pay your fare, among other improvements.

The next generation of ORCA is on the way

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With new light rail vehicles coming online and three new stations opening this fall, there’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a transit rider.  

And more progress is on the way.  

Next year, paying for transit rides in the Puget Sound region will be faster and easier with the new myORCA website and mobile app. 

If you’re a regular rider, you hopefully know all about the benefits of using an ORCA card. And it’s about to get even better.  

Staff recently updated the Sound Transit Rider Experience and Operations Committee about the next generation of ORCA and we're bringing you the highlights.

Here's the full presentation to the Board, our breakdown is below.

The new ORCA system will come online in phases, beginning early next year.

More enhancements and features, such as the ability to tap to pay with your phone, will come later in 2022.  

The next generation of ORCA will: 

  • Offer a mobile app to manage your account and pay your fare 

  • Instantly load value and products to your ORCA account 

  • Offer more retail locations to buy ORCA cards and add value 

  • Feature an improved website that makes it easier to manage your account

A little ORCA background 

In 2019, ORCA was used on 68 percent of transit trips and accounted for $275 million in fare revenue. 

Launched in 2009, the ORCA card united seven transit agencies – Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and Washington State Ferries – with one common payment system.  

ORCA made transferring between services easier, and enabled online payments and account management. 

As of June 1, your first youth ORCA card is free! 

It also expanded the availability of affordable public transit through reduced fare and employer benefit programs.  

Did you know there are different ways to save on your transit fare? Visit http://ORCAsavings.com and take the short survey to see if you qualify for a reduced fare ORCA card. 

What do I need to plan for with next gen ORCA? 

Not to worry, your legacy ORCA card will still work on the new system and with the mobile app! 

Stay tuned this summer as we roll out more information.

And don't forget to check out the new myorca.com!

Why make changes now? 

Payment technology has advanced. Next gen ORCA is using this new technology to improve our transit payment network. 

And many pieces of the ORCA system are aging and in need of replacement. This includes: card readers, data systems, reporting platforms, ticket vending machines and more.   

The next gen ORCA project was mapped out through customer feedback. The goal is to keep the things you like and fix the things you don’t, and make the changes with minimal disruption to riders. 

Some things aren’t changing. Options like Youth cards, Regional Reduced Fare Permits and ORCA LIFT — which gives income qualified riders savings of up to 50 percent— will be a part of the next generation of ORCA. 

There will still be retail locations for purchasing ORCA cards and loading value. 

Although the next gen ORCA program will deliver lots of new technology, it also offers more convenience to customers who prefer doing their ORCA business in person with cash, and we expect even more locations to join the ORCA retail network over time.  

As good as ORCA has been for our community, it can be even better. Next gen ORCA will vastly improve how you get around the Puget Sound. 

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