Seattle expands smart card purchase options

Posted on May 16, 2013

Seattle bus, rail 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 King County Metro GM 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% of all transit trips taken in the Central Puget Sound region.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 at selected community events and neighborhood centers throughout King County.

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