No-fee ORCA card promotion extended one month

Publish Date

Due to high demand, transit card fee will continue to be waived through Feb. 28

ORCA smart cards, which are gaining popularity among Puget Sound transit riders, will now be available with no fee through Feb. 28. Starting March 1, 2010 a standard adult or youth ORCA card will cost $5. The promotion had been scheduled to end on Jan. 31.

"Due to the high demand for ORCA all across the region, we are extending the deadline for no-fee cards," said Kevin Desmond, King County Metro's General Manager. "All of the partner agencies want to ensure that our customers have an opportunity to take advantage of this no-fee card offer during this transition period when demand is high and lines at customer service outlets can sometimes be long."

The arrival of ORCA means that most transit riders can choose to never visit a customer service office again, with a one-time exception for people who must submit required documents for Regional Reduced Fare Permits or provide proof of age for Senior or Youth discounts. Customers can avoid long lines during the transition by buying cards online or at ticket vending machines.

The "blank" ORCA cards available with no fee through February must be loaded with e-purse value and/or passes. The extended no-fee promotion should help ease the transition to ORCA and reduce temporary high volumes of activity at customer service centers. Each of the ORCA partner agencies has been taking additional special measures to meet the high demand.

Riders who use a Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) are reminded that there is no charge for converting to the ORCA card. The best time to obtain an ORCA RRFP card at customer service offices is between the 10th and 20th of each month. First-time RRFP customers who qualify for the reduced fare must still pay an initial fee of $3.

King County has established a special Metro RRFP hotline number, (206) 205-9185 for customers who have questions about the transition to ORCA. They can also find more information online at:

Given the heightened interest in converting to ORCA, Metro Transit's Seattle sales offices on the mezzanine level of Westlake Tunnel Station and at 201 S. Jackson St. will be open Saturdays beginning Jan. 31 and continuing through February. Metro also plans to boost staffing at its two customer service outlets. Customers can find out more about special Metro customer service hours at:

Getting ORCA online or at a ticket vending machine is easy.

  • Visiting to obtain or revalue an ORCA card is by far the best option for people with computer access. Buying online does require planning ahead since it takes five to seven business days to receive a new ORCA card by mail and 24 hours to add value to an existing card. Online sales are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Ticket vending machines at Link light rail and Sounder commuter rail stations are convenient locations to immediately get an ORCA card and load E-purse value and/or a regional PugetPass product.

ORCA is a smart card-based electronic fare system for public transportation agencies serving King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. ORCA is replacing about 300 various passes, tickets and transfers with a single card that works by simply tapping the ORCA card on a reader device. ORCA cards never expire but rather can be reloaded with a new pass or more e-purse value. Riders can even set up their ORCA cards with an "autoload" feature.

As of Jan. 1, 330,000 ORCA cards have been distributed. Average weekday ORCA boardings have increased from 86,000 in December to 154,000 so far this month, a 79 percent increase.

Information on customer service centers operated by the ORCA partner agencies is available on the agencies' respective Web sites.

For information about ORCA:

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