Almost 200,000 daily boardings and counting as ORCA turns one year old

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Earth Day: a great time to get ORCA and climb aboard buses, trains, ferries

This week the Puget Sound region's ORCA smart card program turned one year old. So far, almost 200,000 riders use ORCA on the average weekday.

The ORCA program got underway with a limited rollout that began on April 20, 2009. The full rollout took place in September and gathered steam in January as ORCA replaced most of the region's other transit passes and became the lowest-cost way to transfer from one transit system to another.

"As of last week an average of 196,778 riders around the region were boarding buses, trains and ferries with ORCA each weekday," said ORCA Joint Board Chair and Sound Transit CEO Joni Earl. "We'd like to thank the growing crowd of ORCA users. For those who don't have ORCA yet, there's no better time than Earth Day to get ORCA and start taking public transportation instead of driving."

"The success of ORCA would not have been possible without the strong collaborative effort shown by our seven regional transit agencies," said ORCA Joint Board Vice Chair and King County Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond. "Behind the ORCA card are scores of dedicated professionals who have worked hard to create an easy-to-use pass that allows our customers to conveniently transfer from one transit system to another."

With ORCA, the environmental benefits of riding transit go beyond reducing vehicle emissions. Unlike older passes and paper tickets, ORCA cards can be reused for several years. Riders can go online or pick up the phone to add E-purse value or passes, avoiding unnecessary trips.

ORCA is good on Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro Transit, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and Washington State Ferries. ORCA is also good on the King County Water Taxis.

ORCA makes it easier than ever to take transit throughout the four-county region with smart card technology. Gone are the days of rummaging for correct change and lost papers transfers. ORCA allows you to pay your fare quickly, with a simple tap of the card. The microchip inside each ORCA card contains an E-purse that can be loaded with cash value that can be used for individual trips, or any number of passes that offer savings and convenience. With each trip, the correct fare, including any transfer value, is automatically deducted.

ORCA's conveniences also include allowing ORCA cardholders to check their accounts online, by phone or at a fare vending machine. Customers have the option to register their card, which allows them to restore their card value if it is lost or stolen. Registered cardholders can select an "Autoload" feature that adds value to a card automatically when the E-purse is empty or when the monthly pass expires.

How to get an ORCA card
There are lots of options. The most convenient option for ordering or adding value to an ORCA card is online 24 hours a day, seven days a week at Cards are also available by phone, by mail, at 14 retail outlets, or vending machines at Sound Transit rail stations located throughout the region. More information is available on the ORCA Website.