Happy first day of school to all the UW students out there! If you haven’t taken the bus before the video above will give you a good rundown of how it’s done, with fare payment being a notable exception (see below). UW Commuter Services has reference information here and for anyone that rides or is planning on riding the bus on a regular basis OneBusAway, created by UW students no less, is a must. It can be used online, by phone or SMS and of course smart phones.

For new and continuing students please note that all Husky Cards now have an embedded ORCA chips in then, no more quarterly U-Pass stickers. This means that you now have to “tap” your husky card on the bottom half of the ORCA card readers when paying your bus fare.

How to Propertly "Tap" an ORCA Card

A proper “tap”, seen in the photo above, involves holding your card centered over the bottom half of the machine until it beeps and a green light comes on. Don’t wave it in front of the reader, tap the upper part of the reader, or very quickly tap the reader. It won’t work and you’ll have to do it again. For those of you that rather not take your card out of your purse or wallet you can usually just push them against the reader and it will work assuming the card comes close enough to the reader and you don’t have other contact-less technology cards like security badges (although it might still work).

Please leave any other helpful tips in the comment thread below.

43 Replies to “UW Students: How to Ride the Bus”

  1. Does anyone know what sort of information (if any) UW students are receiving with their new U-PASSes? A pamphlet or flyer? I can’t see anything on the (numerous) washington.edu pages about the new card about how to actually use the card, beyond “tap”. And, of course, despite the fact that the new cards have been in use by faculty, staff, and summer students since June 1, we couldn’t have an ORCA launch without a major snafu:

    As we transition to the U-PASS powered by ORCA this week, some purple student Husky cards may not work on transit on September 28 as originally expected, though all cards are anticipated to be working by September 29. If you are a new student or if you had to get a replacement card after getting your new purple Husky Card, you may be affected by this unforeseen delay in the transition to U-PASS powered by ORCA. Transit agencies have been notified and drivers should allow riders with a purple student Husky Card to ride without paying fare on Wednesday, September 28, 2011.

    Also notice that the video above is over two years old and features a flash U-PASS. Not sure it’s really smart to post it here if we’re trying to clear up confusion.

    1. Yeah tried to look for a more up to date video but couldn’t find one. Added a little disclaimer in the first sentence so hope that helps. Regardless I think the video is helpful for students that have no idea how to use transit. Drivers will hopefully inform students that they need to tap their cards and after one correction hopefully they won’t make the same mistake twice.

      1. Yeah, it’s unfortunate that UW Commuter Services couldn’t’ve made a proper video themselves, leaving a two-year-old student project to be the best guide for new students.

    2. Oops, I take part of my criticism back. I did manage to find a proper description of how to use the card, a couple clicks into the FAQ on the Facilities Services page: “Tap your card on the ORCA card reader and pause until you see the green light and hear the beep.” Personally I’d rather see that information (or at least a link to the FAQ) at http://www.washington.edu/u-pass/, not buried in a mess of menus and links on the Facilities Services site.

    3. Actually only Staff and Faculty started using then over the summer. Even returning students and students who had summer passes start fresh this week.

      1. Ah, yes, my bad. Could’ve sworn I saw a calendar of dates that included summer students, but looks like they just got the old-style stickers.

      1. Yes. Not included with they flyer but available at places on campus were mini folded cards explaining how and when to pay on bus, RapidRide/Swift, Link/Sounder (+fine warning), and a reminder to “Always tap the ORCA card reader logo!”

        Their instructions were 1. Tap on reader at x time. 2. Pause until you see the green light and hear the beep.

      2. We’ll find out soon enough. The Daily of the UW ran the headline “Tap on, tap off” on the front page today talking about the transition to the universal ORCA U-PASS. There were some glitches, but that’s to be expected of any major change.

  2. I hope the Tacoma and Bothell campuses follow the Seattle campus’s lead soon in making it an automatic benefit of enrollment. But that’ll have to go through their respective Associated Students.

    1. Why should Bothell make it automatic? It’s much more of a commuter campus, and would not serve their students well. I’ve also learned that Seattle charged the distance students, so we have students in Hawaii, California and other distant locations with useless bus passes.

      1. Why should anyone at the Bothell campus get subsidized parking spaces? After all, its a campus with lots of bus riders, who receive zero benefit from those parking spaces.

  3. Students also are often confused why some buses are “pay-as-you-enter” and some are “pay-as-you-leave”. As most frequent users could tell you, this is due to the ride-free area downtown: any bus which leaves downtown between 6am and 7pm is “pay-as-you-leave”. Any other bus will be “pay-as-you-enter”. If you are not sure, check the sign by the fare-box.

    1. It’s awesome(*) when that decision seems entirely arbitrary because the 44 you’re catching in the U District happened to begin life as a 43 from downtown.

      1. The 44s that aren’t connected to a 43 are also pay-as-you-leave. I think it’s because they’re the only through-routed route where the join point is outside the ride free area but one end of one of the routes is in the ride free area. Still, it’s confusing because it’s an exception to Metro’s announced rules.

    2. And then there are those rare times when it’s “pay-as-you-enter-and-leave”, like when you catch the 5 in Fremont and ride it all the way to West Seattle. October 2012 can’t come soon enough.

  4. I have a work badge, those thick ones; a RFID credit card; and an ORCA card in my wallet. No problems tapping my wallet to the reader since 2009.

    Do not have two ORCA cards in the same wallet. You won’t be charged twice but it’ll simply reject both. If you really need to have two ORCA cards in the same wallet, I suggest aluminum foil but that has drawbacks.

    If you plan to ride a water taxi or state ferry, you need alternative payment. U-PASS is not accepted on those services and you cannot add e-purse value to your U-PASS.

    1. Also, don’t have a card of the same technology from another transit system. I tried it with an Orca card and an Oyster card (from London) in my wallet at the same time and it didn’t work.

      1. The taxi used to be operated by the County qua Metro. When operations went from the County to the new Ferry District, the U-PASS contract went with it. Last word I heard was that UW was working to maybe get some sort of discount going, but given the small number of folks who actually use the water taxi to commute (or who don’t have other options), it’s rightly not a very high priority and certainly not something worth raising the cost of the U-PASS to get.

      2. “the U-PASS contract went with it”. Er, I meant it went with it in the sense that it went away, it ended. The U’s contract was with Metro, not with just whoever happened to be operating the taxi.

  5. Reminder to Students: Your backpack does not need its own seat. Make room for other riders, especially the elderly and those travelling with small children.

      1. Yes, I’ve seen people pay a fare for their big dog, on the Eastside.

        Straight from Metro’s Fares page:

        • Service animals for persons with disabilities: Free
        • Dogs that fit in owners’ laps and other small pets: Free
        • Large dogs: Pay the same fare as their owner

    1. I’ve found this problem applies more to middle-aged ladies than UW students, haha. Wet umbrellas, too.

  6. If she was checking out google maps she didn’t need to check tripplanner.kingcounty.gov since with the directions if she chooses the bus it will show the time and bus to take. Also, OneBusAway isn’t always 100% reliable as to times. The other day it had the route 43 with a 96 minute headway to the next bus at stop 1190 (Pike @ 6th)!

    1. Did you actually see when that next 43 arrived?

      I recall heading out from work in Greenwood to meet a friend in the U District. After waiting about 10 minutes for a 48, I called my friend, who I knew would be at a computer, and asked him to check mybus.org (this was before OBA). “Uh, it says 75 minute delay.” Sure enough, I started walking and in the 3+ miles and hour or so it took me to get to my destination, not a single 48 passed me—in either direction. It wasn’t until I got to the UD that I realized the reason why: commencement, and Metro’s absurd inability to plan for events whose size, time and date they know of years in advance.

      So, while it’s unlikely that 43 was really running 96 minutes late, don’t be so quick to assume OBA was wrong. With Metro, anything’s possible.

  7. Here are a couple of tips for UW students that the video didn’t cover:

    –Try not to hit other passengers in the face with your giant backpacks.
    –If you do hit someone in the face with your giant backpack and they complain, try not to stand there smirking.
    –Move directly to the back of the bus if you have to stand. Right away. There are lots of you and more will come on at the next stop.
    –Please do not stand in front of the door looking confused. Other people need to get out there.
    –Don’t despair that the bus is so full right now – half of you seem to drop out by the third week, and the bus will be much more tenable at that time.

    1. “Don’t despair that the bus is so full right now – half of you seem to drop out by the third week,”

      Haha, that doesn’t seem to apply to the 71/72/73x. I had to stand on it this morning, and others couldn’t get on yesterday afternoon. Judging from last years’ experience, that will be the norm till June except for quarter breaks.

      Could I please have University Link and North Link this Christmas? Please???

      1. Are the 510/511 full going to the U in the morning and back downtown in the evening?

        It’s a darn shame the deadheading CT buses can’t turn around and become differently numbered buses to relieve the overflow on Metro’s 71 series routes.

  8. Are the UPASS ORCA cards the same as a regular ORCA card. By the same, I mean is RFID chip simply coded with a full value of $4.75? I know you can’t load e-purse on these but I was wondering if there was any difference between these since the ORCA readers simply say “PASS” for both a regular ORCA card and the UPASS one.

  9. Anyone try to clone their ORCA UPASS using a phone like a google nexus s?
    Google for “FareBot”.
    Seems like a WAY better way for fraud than the old making fake stickers method.

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