MYNORTHWEST NEWS

ORCA overhauls system with added features and updated card readers

May 16, 2022, 5:47 PM | Updated: May 17, 2022, 7:53 am

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ORCA‘s highly-anticipated new website, smartphone app, and real-time value loading for ORCA cards launched Monday for hundreds of thousands of transit customers across the Puget Sound region.

New card readers and vending machines are also rolling out at transit locations throughout the region, marking the start of ongoing improvements to the ORCA system over the next several years.

Seattle middle school students now eligible for free ORCA card

The ORCA card covers various forms of public transit, including bus, ferry, Link light rail and the Sounder train, with Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and Washington State Ferries.

“We’re beginning to deliver the first features of the new ORCA system and appreciate the patience of riders as we pivot between vendors and launch improvements over the next few years,” said Christina O’Claire, ORCA Joint Board Chair and King County Metro Mobility Director, in a prepared statement. “Riders can keep using their existing ORCA cards, but also will be able to access updated features that will serve customers better.”

This launch followed a weekend where fares were not collected on most transit systems as ORCA needed a weekend to transition.

ORCA warns transit customers that disruptions may occur while ORCA equipment or account access upgrades are in process. The overall effort spans more than 6,000 pieces of equipment and involves transferring more than 5 million ORCA customer accounts to the new system.

Later in 2022 and 2023, ORCA will be adding more stores to its retail network and introducing a smartphone tap-to-pay option. After these features are delivered, the ORCA agencies will engage with customers to identify improvements and new features to add in the coming years.

The changes stemmed from a survey of 2,600 ORCA customers. The respondents wanted easier ways to pay for public transit, including an app.

Officials say this is just the beginning of an overhaul to the system as light rail expands to the suburbs.

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