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Q: Why do I need to tap on and tap off my ORCA card?

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Aside from the fact that being able to show valid fare on board trains and buses is state law, Sound Transit needs you to tap on and off of Link and Sounder trains so we know the correct fare to charge you or the supplier of your ORCA card.

Link and Sounder fares are distance-based. When you tap your ORCA card at a yellow card reader at the station before boarding the train, you are eligible to ride. When you get off the train and tap off at your destination station, it calculates the correct fare to charge against your card. If you don’t tap off, your card will be charged the maximum fare.

But my employer pays for my card. It shouldn’t matter if I tap or not.

Simply having an ORCA card is not proof of payment for each ride. If you fail to tap on before you ride, you could be fined $124.

Q: What about the bus?

You only need to tap on at the card reader inside when you board the bus.

Q: What about transfers?

When you transfer from one form of transit to another within two hours, your first fare is credited toward the second. If the second leg of your trip costs more than the first, your card will be charged the difference.

For example, if you take Link from Westlake Station to the International District, the $2.25 Link fare will be deducted from your ORCA card. If you then take Sounder from King Street Station to Tacoma, ORCA will credit $2.25 toward the $4.75 Sounder fare, charging you $2.50.

To learn more about purchasing and using an ORCA card, visit

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