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February, being the shortest month of the calendar, is the least beneficial month for purchasing ORCA passes. Add in the President’s Day holiday plus the few extra days off in February for many school’s mid-winter breaks and, suddenly, buying a bus pass in February doesn’t seem all that worthwhile. I don’t know if ORCA pass sales take a noticeable drop in February, but many riders likely recognize that the value of an ORCA pass is lowest when the month is shortest. Many other businesses also suffer from lower sales in February (unless they are helped by Valentine’s Day), so many of those businesses choose to tighten their belts and wait for better days. But other businesses use February as a time to offer good deals to stimulate sales during a slack time of year. Air fares, for example, are usually very low in February to non-sunshine destinations. Could the ORCA card boost sales and reach new riders by offering discounts for February bus passes?

How about a 20% off sale for all February passes or a 33% discount on February passes if purchased in a package deal with March and April passes? The various transit agencies would be able to track the purchases and see how many new riders are enticed by the February deals and how much additional revenue is generated by the February discounts. The discounts would also help to generate goodwill with transit commuters and they almost certainly would be more effective in driving sales than the Voice of Reason/Grandma ads. Most transit advertising seems to be focused on appealing to laudable concepts like environmental preservation and stress reduction in daily life. That’s wonderful, but a 20% off deal might be what finally drives people to get out of their cars and make the effort to find an ORCA vending location and purchase an ORCA pass. And, hopefully, come back for more.

10 Replies to “February Orca Card Promotions”

  1. Better yet a 30 day pass effective for 30 consecutive days from date of first use (one additional pass could be Backlogged on card for use after first pass expires)

    1. Yeah, you’ll never know if you have a valid pass that way. How many people would check that miserable excuse for a website that ORCA uses to check whether their pass has extra days or when it expires. Sounds like a great plan.

      1. The ORCA readers tell you days in advance when a pass is about to expire every time you tap. You can also check balance at a TVM.

        Expiration dates are not a concern when your employer pays for your pass or when you use auto load. Infrequent riders won’t be using 30-day passes anyway.

        If you think the ORCA website is bad, you have not tried to use the abomination that is LA’s TAP Card site. At least ORCA’s is functional.

  2. Let’s be serious and do a little bit of perspective. Normally February has 28 days. Most months are 31 days. That’s a whole three days difference. There are not that many months that do not have a holiday in them. March, June, August and October. As far as a pass being valuable or not it sure makes a difference how many times per month you use a pass. At $2.50 a pop it does not take much time to pay more for bus transportation than it does to buy a monthly pass. Just two trips a day @$2.50 and you pay $140 for a full month. That’s only two trips per day. Or you could pay $90 for unlimited off-peak travel with a pass. Cash fare is $70 for one trip per day for 28 days $140 for just two trips per day or $90 for unlimited trips per day with a pass. Hmmm, wonder what’s the better bargain?

  3. It depends on whether you use transit outside work. Some people use it seven days a week, others five days. If you use it mainly for a Monday-Friday commute, it approximately breaks even but you’d have to take 1-2 extra trips in some months. That could be just one trip to the library or Pike Place or a movie, which many people might do anyway.

    I have a 5-day commute, which sometimes turn into 3-point trips when i stop somewhere on the way home. And I usually use it Saturday and Sunday, sometimes one round trip a day, sometimes two. So that’s easily 80 trips a month, far beyond the 44 trips that the pass rate is calculated at.

    But sometimes I’ll be out of town for a week or two, so I used to debate whether to get a pass. But I found that when I didn’t,I’d debate whether this trip was worth $2.50 and that takes the fun out of life, And I kept getting on the bus forgetting I didn’t have a pass. Before ORCA I’d have to scrounge for change or tell the driver I didn’t have enough or get off bus. Now with ORCA it charges my e-purse before I realize it and then it’s to late to do anything else.

    So beyond the monetary savings, a pass lets you avoid thinking about the cost per trip, and it makes my monthly transportation expenses predictable. And if it doesn’t break even one month, I consider it a donation to Metro which helps preserve what service frequency we have.

    1. I probably do not need to mention this, but KC Metro had monthly passes with mag striped cards for years before the implementation of ORCA.

      As for “break even” yes if you use it only on a Monday to Friday commute the break even point is narrower, but if you make only one or two trips a day it will be a tossup. I’m wondering how many people confine themselves to one or two trips per day. There’s likely a formula you could use to determine what the break even point is and whether short months like February really make a difference in whether it’s better economy to buy a pass or use cash or e-purse. $2.50 X 20 (one trip five days a week) is $50 and that’s for just one trip a day. Unless you do not make many trips at all a pass is mostly a better deal.

    2. I’d take the pass out of my wallet at the end of the month. I don’t recall there being any e-purses. It was a pass, cash, or tickets. And I never saw the point of tickets, not if you didn’t get a discount for them.

      1. I use tickets on a regular basis.

        I would love to use a card like ORCA but TriMet doesn’t have one of those yet (they are working on an open card sort of like what Chicago has), and the phone ticket system may or may not work with my older phone.

        The advantage of the tickets is that I can buy a wad of them at a time at Fred Meyer with a credit/debit card, while the bus farebox is cash only. Acquiring and carrying around wads of small bills and coins, especially since almost all ATMs only spit out $20 bills, is more of a chore than getting a wad of tickets when I happen to be in the store anyway.

    3. ” I’m wondering how many people confine themselves to one or two trips per day.Unless you do not make many trips at all a pass is mostly a better deal.”

      There are lot of people who take transit only to work and drive otherwise. They’re not comparing the cost of a pass trip vs a non-pass trip. They’re comparing the time it takes to take a bus somewhere vs driving to it. If they do use transit for non-work trips, it’s likely those cash-only ballgame P&R shuttles, or when their car breaks down.

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