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On June 9, 2014, the Pierce Transit Board of Commissioners held a hearing (See pages 3-4.) on a proposal to eliminate paper transfers and, as a replacement, institute a day pass, available seven days a week. Chris Karnes at the Tacoma Transit blog delves into the process that led to this proposal.

Pierce Transit currently sells paper day passes on weekends and holidays, at a cost of twice the single-ride fare ($2 for adults and 75 cents for seniors, youth 6-18, and riders with disabilities). The passes are purchased at first boarding and provided by the operator.

Pierce Transit plans to change from paper to magnetic-strip cards and ORCA-based day passes. Using a $2 million federal grant, Pierce Transit plans to replace all its fareboxes with ones that can read the date on the new magnetic-strip cards. The proposal, which is scheduled for a vote on July 14, would also set the cost of the day pass at $5 for adults, and $2.50 for seniors, youth, and riders with disabilities, which is $1 more than the current weekend day pass rates.

In addition to the magnetic-strip card option, Pierce Transit plans to make the day pass available on ORCA, through advance purchase.

In contrast to the multi-agency $9 ORCA day pass pilot program, going on through September 2014, in which Pierce Transit is participating, the Pierce Transit day pass would only be accepted on Pierce Transit buses. Rollout of the Pierce Transit day pass is scheduled for November 1, 2014.

11 Replies to “Pierce Transit Planning Magnetic-Strip & ORCA Day Pass”

  1. This day pass fare is a lot more encouraging for people to buy it than the ridiculous $9 day pass fee for Metro/ST on ORCA currently. There just aren’t many people taking that many trips on Metro or ST everyday.

    1. It’s the $5 cost of the ORCA that is the real killer. PT is spending a fortune on a work-around, since the agencies can’t collectively admit the $5 ORCA fee is costing the agencies a fortune in all the work-arounds caused by this fee.

      1. Where does the $5 ORCA fee come from and who can change it? If the agencies in the ORCA system dislike it that much, can’t they, as a group, end it?

    1. The magnetic strip readers don’t take very much time compared to paying with cash. If they’re implemented like they are in Boston, they can actually save quite a bit of time, because you automatically get “change” back (so no more arguing with the driver about change), and you can use the same card — legitimately! — more than once. More importantly, they’re always accurate, and therefore they free the driver from having to check the validity of transfer slips.

      1. Maybe this is the same system that Skagit Transit uses? When you pay with cash the machine issues a magnetic card, and it prints the balance on the card so you know how much value is still on the card?

        I suppose it saves time because you can put in a larger bill when you need to, so on average there are not as many cash transactions per trip?

      2. Well, these are day passes, so there is no balance on the card and no “change” to get back.

  2. The cost of the PT all-day passes are so much more realistic than what Metro charges. Ideally there would be an all-day Puget Pass as well, to include ST.

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