It’s been two years (and a day) since ORCA was launched to the public. How much progress has been made in its adoption? Two key measures for measuring its success are usage and availability. Sound Transit and Metro in a joint press release announced today that the “cards are used on more than 250,000 trips each weekday and 49 percent of all transit trips in the region.” The press release didn’t break down the usage by agency. They also announced that customers can now reload their ORCA cards at 37 QFC stores. QFC joins 50 Safeway stores, seven Saar Marketplaces, and four other retailers for a total of 98 ORCA retail outlets across the region.
In other ORCA news: The ORCA system has reached “Full System Acceptance” which means enhancements to the system can be considered and implemented. Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick tells me “there are no final decisions about any system enhancements” at this time. Speaking of enhancements, all downtown tunnel stations served by Link now have ORCA readers on the platform, three months after Sound Transit said it would be done.
For comparison with March last year, according to an ORCA Progress Report, 34% of all transit trips in the region were paid with ORCA and only 14 retail outlets were in operation. Nearly a hundred retail outlets is great improvement from 14 but it’ll take a lot more to make ORCA easily accessible to all.