Give a gift that keeps giving in 2010—the ORCA card

Publish Date

PugetPasses, most transfers replaced with ORCA beginning Jan. 1

This year's hot holiday gift item is the ORCA card, good for rides on buses, trains and ferries throughout King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. For a limited time, get a card with no card fee that's ready to ride and save you money on transit trips in 2010.

ORCA saves transit riders time and hassles, and starting Jan. 1, it can also save them money. On Jan. 1, transit agencies in the region will stop accepting paper transfer slips when a rider moves from one agency's service to another's, and some agencies will eliminate paper transfers altogether.

Getting ORCA - One Regional Card for All - before the end of the year instead of using cash is the way riders can avoid paying twice. ORCA's "smart card" technology will automatically apply credit from a rider's first trip when he or she transfers within two hours. Cash will continue to be accepted by all seven of the ORCA partner agencies, but beginning Jan. 1, riders using cash instead of an ORCA card to transfer between different agencies' systems will pay the full fare for each leg of their ride.

While King County Metro and Pierce Transit will still offer paper transfers that are good within their own systems, Community Transit and Sound Transit will switch to all-electronic transfers. Everett Transit and Kitsap Transit have already phased out paper transfers on their systems, and transfer policies for ferries remain unchanged with the ORCA system, with no transfers to or from Washington State ferries onto buses or trains.

This holiday season is the perfect time to get started with ORCA. You can load between $5 and $300 on the card's "E-purse" for trip-by-trip deduction, or load a monthly unlimited ride pass. Cards are still available this holiday season with no card fee. Starting Feb. 1, a standard adult or youth ORCA card will cost $5.

Get an ORCA card today and get all the advantages of an expanding system. Along with the seven ORCA partner agencies of Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro Transit, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and Washington State Ferries, ORCA cards are also good for rides on the South Lake Union Streetcar, and beginning Jan. 1 ORCA pass users can ride Intercity Transit's Olympia Express Routes 603 and 620.

ORCA Advantages

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. With each trip, the correct fare, including any transfer value, is automatically deducted.

On top of automatically calculating and crediting transfers, ORCA cards offer many conveniences for riders. ORCA cardholders can check their accounts online, by phone or at a ticket 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 also 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 for getting an ORCA card in time for the holidays. 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, or at 19 outlets or vending machines at 22 rail stations located throughout the region.

Over the coming months ORCA will replace many of the region's other transit passes. Riders who purchase their own monthly transit pass online or by mail likely have already been converted to an ORCA card. Riders who purchase passes in person will receive their pass loaded on an ORCA card. Monthly PugetPass cards will not be sold to individuals after Dec. 14.

Riders who get their transit pass from their employers are being converted to ORCA as their employers' annual contracts come up for renewal. Until then, employer-provided passes that are valid and unexpired will continue to be accepted by participating agencies.

Ticketbooks will continue to be sold by King County Metro Transit in 2010, but these products will no longer have transfer value on other agencies' buses or trains, and riders who use ticketbooks or tokens are encouraged to switch to ORCA cards before card fees are introduced Feb. 1, 2010.

Vanpool and paratransit customers must check with their agency about use of ORCA for their rides.

Using and reloading an ORCA card

ORCA is a durable, plastic smart card containing a microprocessor. 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.

ORCA cards come equipped with an "E-purse" function that allows a rider to preload fare value onto the card. With each trip - whether the trip involves one agency's system or transfers between systems - the correct total fare amount, including any transfer value, is automatically deducted from the value on the card. Riders can also take unlimited trips by purchasing a monthly pass on their ORCA card.

The ORCA system typically takes 24 hours to process online and phone transactions. Riders who make online and phone transactions must tap their card at an ORCA card reader after that period, loading the pass or E-purse value onto the card's microprocessor. To add a new pass or E-purse value right away, visit an ORCA Customer Service Office, a Retail Outlet or a Ticket Vending Machine. The pass or E-purse transaction will be processed and immediately ready for use. Riders are encouraged to use their new ORCA cards within 30 days of receiving it.

Under normal wear, ORCA cards are expected to last three to five years before they need to be replaced.


Transferring with ORCA

  • Transfers are easy with ORCA -- the card does the math for you.
  • Transfers work for all participating regional partners' bus, train and light rail service, but are not available on Washington State Ferries.
  • When using a valid pass or E-purse on your ORCA card for bus, train and/or light rail service, your electronic transfer is activated when you tap your card on the ORCA card reader. The transfer is good for two hours after you tap the card.
  • The ORCA card reader recognizes each leg of your journey within the two hour period and you will not be charged the full fare for each subsequent leg.
  • The ORCA card will calculate the amount of ‘electronic transfer value' your trip is worth based on the cost of the first leg of your trip. If you transfer to a service that charges more, you can either use your E-purse to pay the difference or pay cash.
  • If your ORCA card has an agency-specific pass, you will only be able to transfer within that agency's services.

Add Value to ORCA:

  • When you add value to your card online or by phone it will take about 24 hours for the ORCA system to process the order. When you tap your card at an ORCA card reader after that period, the pass or E-purse value will be loaded onto your card.
  • To add a new pass or E-purse value right away, visit an ORCA Customer Service Office, a Retail Outlet or a Ticket Vending Machine. The pass or E-purse will be processed and immediately ready for use.

Tap Within 30 Days:

  • After you add value to your card online or by phone, remember to tap on the ORCA card reader within 30 days so the credit can be added to its embedded microchip.
  • If you have not used your ORCA card within 30 days of adding value please contact ORCA Customer Service.

View Transaction History:

  • To view transaction history online you must have a registered ORCA card and an online My ORCA Account. Fare payment and add value transactions may take about 24 hours to display in your Transaction History.

Pending Account Status:

  • When you add value to a registered ORCA card online, your My ORCA Account status will display as "pending." Tap the card after the 24 hour processing period and the card's pending status will change to "active."
  • Remember, when you view your ORCA card's activity in your Transaction History it will be an additional day behind your travel activity.

Resetting Online Password:

  • To protect your My ORCA Account online password, if you are resetting the password do not use a password you have previously used.

Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP)

  • To obtain a new ORCA RRFP, bring proof of age (65+), proof of disability or a valid Medicare card to your local transit agency's Customer Service Office. There is a $3 card fee for a new RRFP ORCA card.
  • If you already have a valid RRFP you may exchange it for a new ORCA RRFP at no charge.

Reporting ORCA Issues:

  • To submit a comment or question about your ORCA card or a fare transaction, please include: the bus coach number; the bus, train or ferry route number; the date and time; your Card Serial Number; and any additional details of the ORCA incident.


For information about ORCA:

http://www.orcacard.comor 1-888-988-6722 (ORCA)/ TTY Relay: 711/ 888-889-6368