CHOKEPOINTS

ORCA card gets a reboot with instant value transfer feature

May 2, 2022, 3:03 PM | Updated: 3:56 pm
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

Good-to-Go had to do it. The Washington State Department of Transportation had to do it. Now, it’s ORCA’s time for an upgrade.

The ORCA card system just doesn’t work as today’s users require anymore. After 13 years, ORCA’s Brittany Esdaile said it was time for a reboot.

“The current system has reached the end of its useful life,” she said.  “We’re no longer able to order additional equipment and grow to meet the needs of our expanding transportation network. We’re building a more modern system so we can better adapt with changing needs and changing technology.”

Seattle middle school students now eligible for free ORCA card

The new site and the new mobile app will allow more than five million users to add money to their accounts instantly. “Customers will no longer have to wait 1-2 days to see money and products loaded to their ORCA account,” Esdaile said. “Transactions will happen instantaneously. ”

The upgrade comes with 6,000 new card readers and ticket vending machines, and the system’s Chris McKnight said current users do not need to buy a new card, though a new black-colored card will be launched later this summer. “All cards will continue to work,” he said. “There’s no reason to pay for another card.”

If you want to buy a new card, the current $5 price for an adult card will be reduced to $3.

But McKnight said people who have set up automatic reloading will need to go to the new system and set that up again.

“You will need to go to this new site after May 16th to create an account and set up those auto-loads again,” he said. “Those will not be coming over to the new system.” But your current balances and other information will. The new site and mobile app launch Monday, May 16.

For the necessary maintenance, the old website will be shut down the previous weekend.

“We’re not going to be asking customers to pay during that time, just to make it a more seamless transition for them and allow us to make the final changes that we need to make in preparation for the launch.”

Ross: Sound Transit’s new fare enforcement policy is less ‘light touch,’ more out of touch

If you happen to tap your ORCA card that weekend, it won’t be charged for a fare. The only exception to that is on the ferry system. If you’re driving on that weekend, you will not be able to use your ORCA card. You will need cash or a card.

The plan is to expand this new ORCA system to include tap-to-pay for fares next year.

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ORCA card gets a reboot with instant value transfer feature