Using your ORCA card is easy

Ready to ride? Just look for the closest ORCA Card reader and “tap on” by placing your card flat against it. One beep and a green light means you’re good to go.

On Sounder trains and Link light rail

Look for one of the yellow ORCA Card readers on the platform and tap your card before boarding to pay your fare. When you reach your destination, tap your card on a reader again. Sounder and Link fares are distance-based, so if you forget to "tap off", you’ll be charged the maximum fare.

On ST Express buses

Just tap your ORCA Card on the reader when you board. Since buses charge flat fares, there’s no need to tap off at the end of your ride. 

Transferring between services

When you use your card to transfer from one ORCA-family transit service* to another (for instance, from a King County Metro bus to Sound Transit Link light rail), you don’t have to pay two full fares—your first-leg fare counts toward to the second leg of your trip. 

If the second leg of your trip costs the same or less than your first, your transfer is free. If your second-leg fare costs more than your first, your ORCA Card will deduct the difference from your E-purse balance. Transfer values expire two hours after you first tap your ORCA Card to begin your trip.

*Exception: Washington State Ferries do not accept transfers. 

Card-tapping notifications

  • When you tap to begin your ride, you'll hear a single beep and see a green light. This means your fare, pass or transfer has been accepted.
  • When tapping off a ride (only necessary on Link and Sounder), you'll hear a double beep and see a green light again.
  • If you hear two rapid beeps and see a yellow light: This is a friendly warning that your E-purse balance is running low, or your monthly pass is expiring soon. But not to worry—your pass, fare or transfer will still be accepted.
  • If you hear four rapid beeps and see a red light: Your card balance is too low, or your card didn’t make good contact. The display will say, "Insufficient funds." Try again, and if you have the same result, you will need to reload value to your card. If you believe there is an error, contact customer service.
  • If you receive an error message or an alert for insufficient funds and you board anyway, you’re riding with an invalid fare and subject to fare enforcement, which could result in a $124 fine.

Fare inspection

Don’t forget to tap! Fare enforcement officers periodically board trains to check fares for all passengers on board. Show your ORCA Card to the conductor or fare inspector when asked, and if you're paying a reduced fare, make sure you show your valid Regional Reduced Fare Permit. If you cannot show proof of fare payment, you could be fined $124.