This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.

A press release on KC Metro’s website says:

By 2006, passengers will be able to easily transfer from one system to another without digging in their pockets for extra fares and tickets. It will just take a wave of a “smart card” embedded with a microchip that automatically calculates any fare due. The cards can be reloaded and used indefinitely, and will eliminate the current system of more than 300 types of tickets, passes and tokens.

Well, as you can see, it’s 2008 and the fabled ORCA card is not here yet (and is probably a year or more away). What happened?

Well, KIRO says that the problem could be the contractor, ERG. ERG was recently fired by the city of Sydney, Australia, for completely failing to deliver a smart card for that city, after 5 years of delays.

ERG has pushed back hard, countersuing the city and arguing that it was bureaucratic disinterest and incompetence that doomed the project. The company also designed Hong Kong’s Octopus Card, which by all accounts is incredible successful, so I wouldn’t be so quick to put all the blame on them.

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