Metro released a report on strategies to increase access to ORCA cards. The report looks at the current state of ORCA market penetration, who’s using ORCA, who’s not and why, what the agency has done so far to increase use, and what more can be done. Short term plans and opportunities for the next year include: more retail outlets, more outreach, simplified procedures for conducting promotions, more TVMs, considering day passes and disposable cards. Long-term strategies include: fare incentives and new technologies like payment with contactless credit cards and mobile phones. All of these are discussed in the report. Some highlights are presented below.
Key message from customer feedback and Metro’s Rider/Non-Rider Survey: “youths, seniors, and people who have disabilities, limited English proficiency, low incomes, or no bank accounts often find it difficult to get and add value to ORCA cards. The $5 card fee is often cited as a barrier to ORCA use.”
The report gives the reason why we haven’t seen a day pass considered until now: “Before the ORCA system was launched, the ORCA Joint Board … agreed not to introduce new fare products until ORCA was well-established.” Three years since launch, the agencies are reviewing regional day pass options (pricing and validity) with a goal for implementation towards the end of 2012. The report also explains how the day pass would work. No automatic pass/daily fare capping mechanism (patented) was mentioned.
Limited use (disposable) ORCA cards are being considered as a lower cost alternative for infrequent riders and visitors, not people with low incomes. The fee for issuing a limited-use ORCA card would be $2 compared to $5 for a standard card. That includes $1 for the card itself and another $1 in processing costs. The standard card itself costs $2.50.
Fare incentives include discounted e-purse fare and elimination of paper transfers. The e-purse “discount” would be achieved by raising cash fares. Metro notes that such changes would require it to perform an analysis of impacts on and mitigation for low-income or minority riders, as mandated by federal regulations.