ORCA, the pass system that transit riders use to pay fares on buses and ferries around Puget Sound, is getting a refresh.
The new system will launch on Monday, with a new website and smartphone app, and as part of the transition, transit agencies in the region will not collect fares over the weekend, according to an announcement from transit officials. The fare-free weekend runs from 3 am Saturday to 2:29 am Monday.
Current card holders will not lose any existing funds that have been loaded into their accounts during the transition and will not need to get a new card but will want to register their card under a new account at myORCA.com starting on Monday. Existing autoload configurations will expire, so users will need to set those links up again.
New, black ORCA cards will become available, but the blue cards transit riders have currently will continue to work under the new system.
ORCA, which stands for “One Regional Card for All,” can be used on transit throughout the region, including on Kitsap Transit buses and ferries, Washington State Ferries, King County Metro and other systems. There are more than 5 million ORCA customer accounts regionwide. Since the beginning of 2022, there have been nearly 5,800 unique ORCA users in Kitsap, Sound Transit spokesperson Scott Thompson said in an email to the Kitsap Sun.
Other notes about the transition:
- In an announcement about the changes, transit officials noted that customers may see disruptions with ORCA equipment or account access. The move to the new system involves more than 6,000 pieces of equipment and millions of accounts.
- The new smartphone app will allow users to manage their accounts from their phone and add money instantly.
- The cost of a new card for an adult will drop from $ 5 to $ 3.
- Those who do not want to use the website or app can still use ORCA vending machines or retail stores.
- Currently there is no way for account holders to use their phone as an ORCA card, but plans are in the works to add a “tap to pay” smartphone option next year.
Washington State Ferries spokesman Ian Sterling confirmed that walk-ons and passengers will be able to ride for free this weekend but noted that vehicle fares will run as normal. Vehicle-driver fares will have to be paid with an alternate form of payment, and riders will need to show an ORCA card to an attendant. Kitsap Transit also confirmed in a rider alert on Tuesday that it would not collect fares on Saturday or Sunday during the transition.
For more information, visit myORCA.com.
Nathan Pilling is a reporter covering Bainbridge Island, North Kitsap and Washington State Ferries for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-5242, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @KSNatePilling.
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