County Council OKs single-payment card for regional transit

The King County Council has given the green light for the rollout of a single-payment card for all forms of regional transit. The ORCA smart card will enable riders to move between bus, train and ferries across county lines using only one fare card.

“This system makes various forms of transit more accessible to all riders,” said Councilmember Jane Hague, of Bellevue, sponsor of the ordinance and chair of the council’s Physical Environment Committee, which oversees transportation. “The new ORCA card will help riders have a more seamless and enjoyable transportation experience.”

The One Regional Card for All (ORCA) will be a non-touch smart card used for payment on seven transportation systems: Sound Transit, King County Metro Transit, Community Transit of Snohomish County, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit and Washington state ferries.

The system uses an electronic smart card that automatically calculates any fare due. Passengers will simply “tap” their ORCA Card on target card readers and enjoy their ride. The card will register a valid pass or deduct the appropriate fare from a customer account. Customers can load transportation value or products on their card online or in person at select retail outlets.

Approvals must still come from the Everett City Council and the state of Washington. The regional fare coordination system has been under development since 2003.

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