New program quadruples options for buying ORCA
QFC, Safeway, Saars and other stores now stocking transit smart card among life's other necessities
Transit and ferry riders can now choose from four times the number of locations to buy ORCA, the smart card for paying fares throughout the Central Puget Sound region. More than 120 retail stores, including local QFC, Safeway and Saar's locations, just joined the 40 transit agency venues that sell ORCA cards.
"Since ORCA was launched four years ago, riders looking to buy or load value on their card have been clamoring for more convenience," said ORCA Joint Board Vice Chair and King County Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond. "Thanks to this expanded partnership, we can now bring ORCA to retail outlets closer to home."
ORCA cards are used on nearly 400,000 transit trips each weekday, representing almost 70 percent of all transit trips taken in the Central Puget Sound region. ORCA is the easiest way to pay fare on buses, trains and ferries by just tapping the card to read your monthly pass or deduct fare from your "E-purse."
ORCA, which stands for One Regional Card for All, is valid for fare payment on Community Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit, King County Metro Transit, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit buses and trains, as well as Washington State Ferries. In addition to simplifying fare payment, ORCA saves riders money by providing a two-hour transfer credit to connecting bus and train service.
There are currently 126 retail locations throughout King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties that participate in the ORCA program. Most QFC and Safeway stores in the region participate, as well as Saar's Market Place, the downtown Seattle Bartell's, Kingston IGA, Vashon Thriftway and Roger's MarketPlace in Mountlake Terrace.
Until now, riders could only load new fare value on an existing card at these locations. Now, they can also buy "adult" ORCA cards. Transit riders who pay reduced "senior/disabled" or "youth" fares must still go to customer service centers to get their ORCA cards since proof of eligibility is required.
Currently, all participating retail outlets are selling cards except the downtown Seattle Bartell's at Third and Union, which is in the process of finalizing a purchase agreement. A complete list of stores that revalue cards or sell cards is available at orcacard.com.
ORCA celebrated its fourth anniversary on April 20. Prior to ORCA, regional transit agencies each had their own tickets, passes and paper transfers that made paying fare confusing to customers and drivers. With ORCA, customers can avoid using cash and quickly board their bus, train or ferry with just a tap of their card. Riders who use Metro ticketbooks will want to switch to ORCA soon; after June 30 those ticketbooks will no longer be sold.
In addition to retail stores, transit riders can buy an ORCA card online at orcacard.com, at transit agency customer service centers, and through ticket vending machines at all Sounder train and Link light rail stations and at several transit centers in King County.
Mobile ORCA services comingSoon there will be even more options to purchase adult, youth or reduced fare ORCA cards when Kitsap, Metro and Sound Transit launch mobile ORCA sales programs. Starting later this spring, Metro's "ORCA to Go" will allow customers to conveniently buy or revalue their ORCA card whenever they spot Metro's "ORCA to Go" van. Look for the van at selected community events and neighborhood centers throughout King County. Sound Transit will be bringing mobile services to communities it serves in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, and Kitsap Transit will do the same for its customers.