PugetPass Card
PugetPass Card

How many of you have already purchased an ORCA card? How many of you have purchased one, even though you have a PugetPass, FlexPass, or U-Pass? I’m guilty on both charges, and so are a lot of other people. I purchased one today, and my card number is in the 40,000 range. Anyone have stories about using ORCA yet? All of the card readers on the 3 buses I rode today said out-of-service.

While filling out all of the information and poking around the website, I found myself looking at PugetPass options. In the past, this monthly and yearly fair structure made sense, but going forward it looks cumbersome and overly complex from a user perspective.

PugetPass costs a fixed amount regardless of the number of times it is used. That cost is based on the fare value multiplied by 36 as you can see below. I wonder why 36 is so magical. Basically if you use a certain value more than 36 times a month, you are saving money with that card.

PugetPass Payback
PugetPass Payback

For those that get passes through their employer or school and use it to commute (FlexPass and U-Pass), buying one is generally a no brainer. Additionally, for those people that use the bus once in a while and decided to get an ORCA card, the new e-purse and autoload options will be a very welcome addition. But what about those people in between? For example, people that take the bus to work 4 days a week? Or those people that can either take an ST or a Metro bus, but then have to pay an additional 25 or 50 cents for ST over the metro fare? Or travel during both off-peak and peak periods?

Yeah confusing. For these people there is no good answer, and these are the people transit providers really need to attract. They are people that are choice riders, but want to have the flexibility of riding a bus. I’d bet that a good share of them are hesitant to buy a monthly or yearly pass, but also want to get a good deal. This system creates a negative feedback: someone won’t ride the bus very often because they don’t have an unlimited pass, which then further discourages them from riding.

A solution to this problem could be a slightly altered customer service guarantee like Transport for London’s “Daily Price Capping”. Transport for London uses a card called the Oyster Card (video at the bottom of the link) which is almost exactly the same as ORCA. They also have Travel Cards (think PugetPass) which allows unlimited travel for a certain period of time (one day off-peak, one day peak, 3-days, week, month, year). With the “Daily Price Capping”, Oyster card users will never be charged more than they would if they had purchased a Travel Card. Guesswork and confusion gone! Not only that; it creates positive feedback. Riders want to get a good deal, and once they travel a certain amount in one day the rest is free.

So what would this look like? As you use your ORCA card over the month it would first act like a pay as you go system. Each time you ride it would deduct money from your e-purse. Once you have paid for 36 trips (magic number from above) of a certain value, any trips at that value or lower become free. Essentially, you would earn a PugetPass of that value. As you continue to travel over the month any cost over the PugetPass value would be removed from your e-purse. The value of the PugetPass you earn over the month could increase say from $2.00 to $2.50. You would never pay more than if you had just used a PugetPass. Riders could still purchase a PugetPass; this just gives riders more options.

How will this affect revenue? I could come up with arguments for this proposal either increasing or decreasing revenue, but that would just be speculation. I’m sure a good amount of modeling would have to go into this to figure it out.

111 Replies to “PugetPass and ORCA, Lessons from London”

  1. In Hong Kong, when an Octopus card is sold, there is a HK$ 50 (US$6) deposit on the card. This deposit is refundable, minus an small administrative fee, if the card is returned. Will there be refund on the $5 it cost to purchase the ORCA if the card is returned? Does London Oyster have a similar policy?

    1. Last time I was in London it was a 3 pound refundable deposit on the the oyster. London also had a good method for encouraging riders to use the oyster card instead of single use passes, trips are discounted quite a bit if you use oyster compared with purchasing a single trip with cash. This was the same in HK if I’m not mistaken.

    2. ORCA cards cannot be returned for the $5 because it is not a deposit. You can however return your registered ORCA and get a refund of you e-purse value for a admin fee of $10.

  2. Great idea. This is taking the phrase “you can’t lose with ORCA” to the next level.

    Only thing is we don’t have a day, 3-day, week unlimited pass and the visitors pass is gone. Metro could start small by implementing this for their weekend/holiday day pass which continues to be sold as a paper pass.

  3. So will the favorable PugetPass be discontinued? I’ve been buying it any month I figured I’d be taking the bus to work at least 18 days in a month. Anything less and I’d be over paying for my two daily rides, so I’d just pay in cash/coins. If the ORCA card means that I’ll be paying for days 19 and up as well I’m just not going to buy one until I’m given no choice.

    1. No, your orca can do anything – you can buy a pugetpass from the orca site once you have your orca, and your orca will operate as a pass on those transit services for the fare amount you bought.

      So, my orca will have a flexpass on it from work, but if I want to ride ferries, I’ll be able to put cash in the e-purse, or I’ll be able to buy a ferry pass, or a community transit pass…

      You can mix and match. There’s no downside. :)

  4. I bought my ORCA yesterday and loaded enough on it to get me through mid-June when I go on vacation for 2 weeks. I make 16 or 17 peak hour round trips on transit a month so with a $72 pass, I never quite used it to its full value in a month. I tapped out on the way home on my #11 – reader worked and it made a cute little beep. I’ll be a full-time ORCA kid in 9 days.

      1. Ben –

        Yes, purchased and loaded on Tuesday morning; tapped out around 6:00 PM Tuesday evening in Madison Park w/ no difficulties. Driver said “Oh” as I tapped out; perhaps his first real ORCA customer?.

      2. since there is no enforcement they are all free… but to your point if they only do tap out on rides from the free ride zone that would give people two hours to ride again free from the end of the trip rather then the begining. This is probably not a big deal but it’s just another reason to tap in and out someday

      3. Awesome. I’ve been two drivers’ first ORCA so far, but I ran out of money and don’t want to waste more yet. :)

  5. I remember when I lived in San Francisco a $1.50 pass (the fare all in-city BART rides plus all muni rides) was $36. That was just 24 rides instead of 36. I was shocked the passes here were so much more expensive, considering the fare at the time was exactly the same.

    1. The only people that made sense to buy month or year passes for are full time commuters. I use to bus about half of the time, and of course had to pay cash. Thankfully ORCA fixes this annoyance for me.

      I would love to have it easy for visitors but in reality even with an OCRA card it’s a nightmare for guests. When I visit cities I will take trams and trains, but local buses take alot more planning.

      A few easy things we could do to make our current bus system much more user friendly:

      1. Have a route map WITH STOPS on every bus stop.

      2. Have that same route map on every bus as well.

      3. Automated next stop info on board.

      The first two are cheap and there is just no excuse for it.

      1. justin,

        I hear you, but Metro can’t even get a schedule up at each stop, so let’s start with the basics.

      2. Even though Metro posts the schedules at only some of its stops, that’s still tons better than many cities that list only the route numbers and their phone number.

        Also, the schedules are often vandalized. It really irritates me when I see the glass broken and the schedule floating in the wind, attached at only one corner. Because that means for several months people will be without a schedule.

      3. I have been meaning to write about this for a while. Maybe I’ll try to get my act together and finally write it.

      4. The “glass” in front of the schedules is Plexiglas; I’m not sure how it gets broken. All the stops I see have it intact or are missing the metal frame.

      5. I’ve seen paper schedules taped up by do-gooders. Or these days better yet: a OneBusAway notice with the phone number and stop ID.

      6. Pierce Transit actually does this much better than us. Every stop has a map of the bus routes and the schedule. Intercity Transit has automated next stop announcements and a little display with the next stop info inside. I’m not sure why these agencies which are so much smaller than Metro can do this so much better than us, but oh well.

      7. Community Transit also has maps and a schedule at their stops though not every stop.

        The fact that they are smaller than Metro helps. Metro is huge and any changes will take a long time or face inertia.

  6. That’s a great idea. My employer lets me get the monthly Puget Pass pre-tax but sometimes I know I’m not getting my money’s worth. I do frequently travel for work, so those bus days are cut out and I’m at a loss for the month.

    I could imagine from a system perspective tallying the rides to equal a Puget Pass could be difficult for someone who has to make a transfer in their daily commute. ORCA would have to make it so that the days I ride to the Northgate TC and transfer to the 41 would be equal to an express ride on the 316. Then again, that might give me more incentive to get out the door faster in the morning and take the 316 if I can save the money!

  7. I have a flexpass from work, but I got an orca on Monday morning, and have already emptied the five bucks I got. :)

    I’m going to load more on and waste my money trying out the different kinds of transfers.

      1. I also bought two with just the minimum of $5 on them, one for a friend in Portland, OR and another for a friend in Claremont, CA to encourage them to come visit and ride Link.

  8. Quick question about ORCA: Does it work on Anacortes ferries as well? Seems like it should.

    1. It should. WSF is a member of the ORCA program. Nothing has ever been stated that only the Seattle area ferries were in the program. It’s a case of all or nothing.

  9. Bought one (E-purse) at the Tunnel Customer Service kiosk on Monday afternoon. The clerk said it would take about a day for the stored value to show up, but I went home and registered the card and the value was there.

    Used it on Tuesday on Sound Transit out to the country, worked find both ways. Although I did not stop and chat with the drivers, both made sounds consistent with me being their first ORCA rider. After the second ride, went to transfer to Metro (to see how the transfer function worked) but the reader was off-line. I flashed my ORCA card and the driver waved me on.

    I do have one question I have not seen answered anywhere, especially not on the ORCA web site, where I would expect to see it. What happens if the reader is set for two zones, but my ride was one zone? For example, yesterday as I exited and entered the ST buses, the reader said “2 Zones.” As it happened, I was riding two zones. But what if I were riding one zone — how is that handled?

    Also, on the ORCA web site, it allows you to preset your usual zone ride for both Metro and ST, and I have set mine to two zones for ST and one zone for Metro, because that is my usual pattern. Does that override the reader setting? And, what if I rode one zone on ST or two zones on Metro, with my card set to the opposite? How would that work?

    1. You ask the driver to change it for you. Just like if you paid cash, you’d have to tell him you were a 1-zone ride.

    2. Yeah I actually had the same question and I have already contacted ST. Hopefully they will get back to me today and it will help clearify this.

      At the very least I think they need to better explain what the zones are on the ORCA website.

    3. Before you tap your card you want to check the reader. If it says 2 zones just tell the driver you are only going 1 zone and he will change it. If you accidentally tap the 2 zone tell the driver and he can reverse the charge but you have to do it fast..there is a time limit on how long the driver can reverse it. After that you have to call the number on the back of your Orca card to dispute it.

      1. I see problems with that. ORCA was supposed to speed up paying one’s fare. Now we have to pause, read that little display (make sure you are wearing your glasses, it’s small), verify it matches what we are supposed to pay, and interact with the driver (and the driver with the reader) if the reader needs changing. And have the occasional argument about where you actually got on.

        How does the reader’s zone setting get set now? Does the driver set it as the bus crosses the zone line? Or is it automatic, tied into the GPS transponders on the coaches?

        I still wonder, if the reader is set to “2 Zones,” and I have set my card’s default to one zone (or the reverse), what happens.

        It would seem a simpler solution would be for the ORCA system to monitor the bus’ location, and for ORCA users to always tap on and tap off. ORCA could figure out if you crossed the zone line, or if you were entirely inside the Ride Free Zone, or whatever. Failure to tap off within two hours would give you the maximum fare, two-zone on Metro during peak times, three-zone on ST. Tap-on, tap-off would not be too burdensome; one already has to enter and exit by the front door (flashing transfer on the way off) on cross-downtown buses.

      2. could we get a blog post about why the bus won’t have tap off? It’s like we looked at other systems and thought, how could we mess this up?

      3. Agreed. It seems like their focus was more on reducing the myriad types of fare media rather than speeding up the loading/unloading process.

      4. I don’t know if we really need to blog about it. Clearly the additional cost is why they don’t have multiple readers. There’s no standard “board in front, exit in back” policy either.

      5. Apparently, during the procurement process:

        The Contractor shall propose an option for the provision of rear-door fare transaction
        processors for Agencies who are considering all-door loading.

        So the system is set up for future expansion.

        Document from http://www.aclu-wa.org/library_files/orca2.pdf

        There are 2,379 readers through out the entire system, each costing about $830. Most of the readers are on buses, at fleet of at least 2,000. Adding an extra reader to each bus would cost $1.6 million + installation + training.

        Table of ORCA component costs: http://yfrog.com/ekngip

      6. Just FYI–none of the Metro coaches or the Sound Transit coaches that Metro operates have GPS.

      7. Really? Then how do services like http://www.onebusaway.org and Metro’s own Online Tracker work? It’s not like those sites only track certain routes or certain coaches – all Metro buses’ locations are tracked real-time, whether it’s with GPS or another technique.

      8. They use a technique called dead reckoning which is based of the odometer readings of the bus.

      9. Interesting, thanks for the clarification. So it’s really time-points being tracked, with location interpolated from the known route path. Good news for those concerned about ORCA and privacy, then, if the card can’t tie tap in or out to location data.

      10. Good news, not quite. They still can guess the rough location from the data collected. It knows the time of tap in, which route, which agency operated it, and the coach number. That is visible when you log in to your ORCA account. The last 10 transactions are also stored on the card itself.

        Kevin Desmond said Metro will have GPS on their buses beginning in 2010. Pierce Transit already has them on their buses (OneBusAway is working to get the tracking data online).

      11. The reader’s zone is set manually by the driver. By default, buses that cross two-zones are set to two-zones, likewise for one-zone buses. Today I saw a driver change Off-Peak to Free Area, back to Off-Peak and then Free Area a couple times. I guess she’s practicing her zone changing skills.

  10. I can’t wait for my brother to come up from Virginia for the weekend. I’m going to get him a registered ORCA loaded with about $20 in E-purse value, then if he ever comes backs to visit (which is fairly often), the card can be reloaded :)

    Now, sell them with day passes / weekend passes…

    As for my ORCA, since a couple of readers were broke, I just flashed my Microsoft ID (one driver on the 545 just let me ride).

    Oh, and Intercity…where there’s a will, there’s a way. Anyone here with contacts in Intercity Transit who’s good at persuasion?

    1. I wasn’t aware that Intercity Transit was part of the PugetPass group. Are there any other PugetPass agencies that aren’t adopting the ORCA?

    2. It’s not about persuasion.

      Sound Transit, Metro, and the other agencies did not include IT probably because they did not know that IT even existed.

      Logistics aren’t a strong suit within transit agency marketing departments (who are usually the departments that deal with fare policy and media).

      IT plans to test ORCA on a few coaches they will assign to the Olympia Express. If the test works well, they MIGHT introduce it to the rest of the fleet. However ORCA’s cost structure does not adapt well to small systems.

  11. What about a system where you could buy, at a discounted rate, a certain number of days of unlimited travel within a one month period? Say 5 days within a month. This could eliminate some confusion for casual transit users or tourists, because they wouldn’t have to worry about calculating fares and making sure they had enough cash value in their e-purse.

    1. That would be helpful. I would buy that for my brother this weekend (3 days of unlimited travel within the 4-county area – he’ll be here Friday and heads home Sunday)

    2. I find those really convenient, as a tourist in Vancouver and Portland, to not have to worry about expiring transfers and zone differences.

  12. I registered and ordered mine with an e-purse. Will get it in the mail. Guess I’m patient. I think the existing passes are tuned to a price that only benefits people where the employer subsidizes them. So, most folks at work are waiting to get their ORCA issued when our employer distributes new transit passes.

    I also think the ORCA system ought to start counting up what a person uses and cut us a break like a free trip or free weekend or something with a lot of use.

    1. I guess I’m an exception. I may have a Microsoft ID, but since I like to play with new toys, I just had to get me a RRFP ORCA. Then again, it’s just me and a couple other transit junkies I work with who have ORCA cards (most still just use their ID).

      1. Yeah I just bought my Reduced Fare ORCA. Everett Station pulled my original application to verify my disability, took my picture and then I had my card! I got my Puget Passs for $18 as well as depositied $5. I verified that CT already accepts the ORCA. My card worked within the hour! It’s cool. The bus driver told how to place the card since I was doing it wrong. I meant to ask her is she had seen the ORCA already. Next, I plan to test the card on ET as well as the ferry.

      2. So do the pugetpass and the $5 show up separately? So if you tap on a system that the pass doesn’t cover, do you get a reduced fare removed from your e-purse?

      3. My online account shows two separate accounts: Puget Pass and then the balance of the E-purse. There was a third section for mixed passes (like ferries). I haven’t tried to use the ORCA on a system that the pass doesn’t cover. I did try to use the purse to pay for my 50 cent fare. The reader said local route and the driver said ok. The transaction does not show up in my account yet so I don’t know if the account was debited .50 or if the driver just said it was alright. I will continue to test it.

      4. Shawn,
        If you have a Puget Pass, the local bus would honor your pass valued at 50-cents. The e-purse won’t be used until you get on the ferry.

      5. You are correct. However, the Puget Pass on the ORCA is for May so if I try to use it, it should activate the e-purse portion of the card.

      6. Do the RRFP ORCA cards look any different? You said they took your picture so I assume it’s printed on the card with your name.

      7. Yes. All the reduced fare cards have the user’s picture on it. I assume it helps to prevent abuse of the reduced fare. A person can save a great deal of money with those cards! It’s kinda cool looking. I need to figure how to post a picture of it and I will do so.

      8. I tried to use the ORCA on ET. It accepted it fine but my online balance showed no debit. It showed the correct bus. I just looked at the ET website. Fare for me is free since I have the RRFP! I suppose this means I can’t test ET and the ORCA card. I think it was the driver’s first ORCA card use:).

  13. As someone who has been testing the system for the past 4 weeks (as have a number of other folks who work for Metro, the ferries, or one of the other agencies that ORCA is good for), I can say that most of the time, the card works great. If the card is not working, it is most likely because the driver does not have the system turned on correctly. If the driver was paying attention in the classes they have had to prepare them for ORCA coming online, then they should be able to make a quick adjustment and be ready for the next person. There will be some growing pains, but this seems like a win-win scenario. Having lived in other cities with far more options than Seattle, it is high time Seattle started doing this for all of the various forms of transit. Now if KC Metrowould just offer 3-day and/or weekly passes instead of ripping off folks who only ride occasionally (or are tourists), they would be far better off. Happy customers keep paying – pissed off customers will always hate the system. Are you listening Joe Metro??

  14. A truly remarkable idea. I love it. I more than love it. I want to make sweet sweet love to it.

    I also love the idea of the Orca, much easier than toting around books of tickets or correct change. I’m also hopeful that it might improve on/off loading times.

  15. Got my ORCA in the mail today. I don’t think the serial number says much about how many people have purchased the card yet — I bought mine on the website at 4:30 am Monday, but the number is twice as high as Adam’s card which was purchased today.

    Compared to my Oyster card from last fall, it’s pretty much exactly the same. Exactly the same size and shape, same texture of the plastic, etc. I stuck it in the case next to the Oyster for the hell of it. Since we didn’t get a little vinyl IKEA Oyster case with the ORCA…

    1. I got one this morning at King Street. My number is in the 60,000 range.

      They are the same almost to the kind of chip in it. We’re using a newer version of the chip used in Oyster.

      Are we going to do a post on ORCA security? Like how easy would it be to hack or clone the cards?

      1. Is the entire number on the lower left hand corner of the ORCA pass the card #? If that is the case then I really have a high number! It is in the 30 millions. It has 8 digits!

      2. So the RRFP ORCA cards must have a different serial number range.

        Regular cards: 1xxxxxxx
        RRFP cards: 3xxxxxxx

        There must be more than this.

        I doubt we will issue 30 million ORCAs (no longer an endangered species). Hong Kong’s Octopus card, supposedly the most popular in the world, has over 19 million cards in use by 95% of the population.

      3. This explanation makes more sense! If that is the case then my number is in the 7000’s. I wonder what Jessica’s is? I assume her experience would be similar to mine.

      4. Actually, the one I got Monday morning at Westlake was in the 25,000 range but I loaded it up and gave that one to my mom.

      5. Mine’s in the 96000 range, and I ordered it online Monday morning, so I still don’t think the number has much meaning. It’s not like the REI membership number. ;)

      6. Glad yours came quickly. On Monday I got to Westlake Station just after they closed so ordered online Monday night. It didn’t come until today (Saturday)! It was mailed yesterday so I assume volume of purchases was the problem. My card was mailed from Seattle, by the way.

      7. It uses Felica by sony.


        It is for all rights and purposes un-hackable. The key regenerates each tag.

        Little known fact is they upgraded the card tech between the beta test a couple of years ago and the rollout now. So your beta card won’t be usable.

      8. Any source to verify that? Did they really switch from MIFARE DesFire (from a presentation to UW SocTech) to FeliCa? I maintain the ORCA Card Wikipedia entry and would like that to be accurate but I can’t make statements that cannot be cited.

      9. I suppositioned that they use FeliCA because it is the same technology that the Octopus card in Hong Kong uses.

        I haven’t asked the particulars at Metro or ST which they use. If you wish to do so, go right ahead. Come back and post what info you get.

      10. The Orca card is the Mifare Desfire card, and not the Sony Felica. The Sony Felica is quite old technology in comparison, also more expensive.

  16. i dont think that your card number represents th Xth person to buy the card, because many cards are already spread out, 1-50 may be in one location, while 51-100 in another, and a batch where they mail them out.

    having used the Octopus in Hong Kong i find this very convenient

    1. Yup, I think you’re right — they are scattered around and some places will sell you a lower number card than other places will.

  17. I got my ORCA yesterday, registered it, and put $5.00 on the E-purse. I see that it may take 24 hours for the $5.00 to “appear” on my card for the scanners to recognize. If I understand ORCA correctly, here is how I’ll use it:

    1) E-purse is simply any amount of “cash” you have loaded onto your card. E-purse is not a pass, ticket, or any other fare. It IS cash, just not in physical coin/bill form.

    2) PugetPass still works like it always has, only now it isn’t a separate card; it’s loaded onto the ORCA card.

    3) Since I primarily ride Everett Transit, I’ll buy my monthly PugetPass (which will be loaded onto ORCA) and keep between $5.00-$15.00 on my E-purse for the times I travel to Seattle for Mariners games.

    That sound about right?

    1. Correct on all. Depending on the value of your PugetPass, you won’t need anything in your purse. If, for example, your pass was valued at 1.75 and the trip you’re taking is $2.25 it’ll just deduct 50 cents out of your purse. If you board another coach within 2 hours of your tap on the $2.25 coach, it’ll cover the fare up to $2.25.

  18. Does anyone know how strong the signal from the reader is? Can I leave the ORCA in my wallet and just tap the wallet to the reader, or do I have toi remove it to get it to work? If so, what if I have another RFID card (my office “key”) that’s also in my wallet?

    1. It works through the wallet and you can keep it with your door pass key. At least, I can.

      1. I also tried tapping mine while still in my wallet. Worked fine. I didn’t try keeping it in my pocket, because I might look funny rubbing my leg against the reader. Spec is only 2-3 inches.

  19. I got my ORCA card Tuesday by mail. Loaded $10.00 Tuesday night. As of this moment, my E-Purse is still showing up as $0, with the $10.00 I added Tuesday night still in pending status. I checked my bank account and the $10.00 was taken out yesterday.

    1. My understanding is that the epurse (at least online) will still reflect a ZERO balance even after u load a card, until that card it tapped on a reader, at which point the card and the site will be able to share their information. (Or something technical like that, lol.)

      Bottom line is that the online acccount won’t reflect a balance until the card has been tapped.

    2. I loaded mine Wednesday morning with $20 at King Street Office. Later that evening around 8 pm, the balance appeared on My ORCA. I was surprised to see it update so fast and I haven’t tapped the card anywhere yet.

      If you want instant gratification, you have to load it in person at a CSO, TVM, or card retailer.

  20. It is great to see all the early adopters of ORCA putting it through the motions. With the “ease” into this new system, the glitches that pop up will need to be ironed out. I received my card in the mail and had a few questions. I checked the website and loaded some fare to the pass. I think it will be much easier to commute once they have a chance to shake down all the bugs and such. The new system is a done deal, so why continually second guess? There are millions of reasons this will make transportation much easier. Why not help? Tell your friends and test the wheels off the card.

  21. Mine worked on the 120! Tapped off, and then got yelled at (“Move it, buddy!”) as I sat there and stared in amazement at the reader:) On transit, people talk like east coasters, which makes me feel more at home.

    I’m most interested in hearing how TRANSFERS are working. Has anyone done a successful transfer? Has anyone been charged when it should have been a free transfer?

    1. Huh, thought I commented on this last night. My transfers worked fine when I used my card.

    2. I tried it out today and it works, at least between buses. I-5 traffic thwarted my rail-bus transfer.

      When you tap on the reader it should read: XFER on the screen.

      Your transfer is valid for 2 hours from the moment you first tapped in and paid fare.

    3. It does not seem that transfers work between the ferries and busses. I took the ferry to Kingston (fare of $3.55) and I had to pay a fare of $1.00 to Kitsap Transit. I had my RRFP so I had cheaper fare.

    1. Actually it is. The fare inspectors have a portable reader that will deduct the proper amount. Unlike Sounder and Link, you can’t use your card to purchase a ticket. But you’re saving paper by not printing a ticket.

      1. From Orca Card

        Good afternoon,

        Unfortunately, at this time the ORCA card cannot be used on the South Lake Union Streetcar. We hope we can add them as participating transportation mode in the future.

        Please contact us should you have any further questions.

        Thank you and have a nice day.

      2. Disappointing. Of course, nearly everyone I’ve seen ride it for commuting has a pass or transfer (because they come out of the Westlake tunnel with me). I’ve also ridden with some friends on weekends and they liked that you can use a credit card and not just cash.

  22. Another ORCA bit:

    My wife tried to use her ORCA on the water taxi. Didn’t work. She was coming from the 7. The guy on the ferry was wielding a handheld ORCA reader, but it wouldn’t register anything, even after repeated tappings. He was a little frustrated, but glad that this kind of stuff was happening so the kinks in the system could be worked out. He also mentioned that he already had his own ORCA card.

  23. So how is Sound Transit going to stop abuse of the ORCA system? What’s to keep me from getting a card, not putting any money on it, not scanning it, and riding the Sounder or buses for free? I’ve only had to just flash my ORCA card at the bus driver or show it once to a conductor on the train.

    Seriously, they are going to have a tough time enforcing it’s use for commuters.

  24. Hopefully the reliability of the readers is increasing while operators become more familiar with the system. Supposedly, fare inspectors will have mobile readers on Link.

    That having been said, I think the placement of the readers in the DSTT stations combined with free buses going the length of the tunnel with free buses is going to create confusion that will be taken advantage of by fare evaders.

  25. I got an Orca Card with a PugetPass of $1.75 from a TVM. Later I realized that I really needed one of $2.25 since I use the bus every business day from Redmond to Seattle. Furthermore, I mistakenly assumed the monthly pass worked starting the day I got it (Oct 28). Apparently, it works for a given month, this case mine will work starting on November.

    Well after a day of surprises for me, I tried to fix it without any success. First, I called by phone and the operator told me that by adding a $0.75 PugetPass would solve the problem, but the ‘system’ would not allow the operator to add the additional PugetPass of $0.75.

    Anyway, I went to a selling post and they could not fix the problem either. They told me that since I got it from a TVM I was neither able to return it nor add the extra $0.75 PugetPass. Now, I have a $1.75 PugetPass which apparently will not be useful.

    After reading some of the posts I think I still have one option. Apparently, I can use my $1.75 PugetPass and have some money in my E-Purse to complete the fare. Am I right?

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