Last year, the ORCA Joint Board conducted a pilot project, to test the long-term feasibility of a multi-agency regional day pass.
A press release from Geoff Patrick at Sound Transit informs us the day pass may be coming back, and the ORCA pod is taking input on a proposal to do that:
ORCA agencies plan new Regional Day Pass options
Joint Board seeks public comments on plans for implementing program
Following a pilot program last year, the transit agencies participating in the ORCA smart card system are proposing to implement a permanent Regional Day Pass program. The agencies are seeking community input on the program, which would consist of two new ORCA pass products:
A $8 Regional Day Pass for adult riders valid for unlimited rides on services with fares up to $3.50
A $4.50 Regional Day Pass for ORCA Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) holders (seniors and riders with disabilities) valid for unlimited rides on services with fares up to $1.75.
If the fare value of the regional day pass ($3.50 adult, $1.75 RRFP) is less than the fare for the service, the rider can pay a fare upgrade using E-purse stored on the ORCA card or with cash on buses.
The regional day pass is intended to make it easier for tourists and visitors to use transit while in town. Local residents can also purchase the regional day pass anywhere ORCA cards are sold.
A new ORCA card costs $5 for adults and $3 for seniors (65+) or riders with disabilities. The day pass will be available at ORCA revalue locations or online, by mail and phone.
These new products will be accepted on bus, light rail, commuter rail, streetcar and foot ferry services operated by Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit. As with the current ORCA PugetPass, the ORCA Regional Day Pass will not be valid for fare payment on Washington State Ferries service.
To provide comments on this proposal:
Call 888-988-6722 / TTY Relay:711
Attend a public hearing before the ORCA Joint Board. It will take place at 10:30 a.m. Monday, April 13 at King Street Center, 8th Floor Conference Center, 201 South Jackson St., Seattle.
Learn more about ORCA or purchase cards and products at orcacard.com.
One difference between this version of the day-pass program and the previous version is that it will cost $1 less. Last year’s day pass cost $9 (plus $5 if buying an ORCA card).
A related difference is that the previous version covered fares up to $4 before taking the difference out of e-purse.
Another difference is that there was no Regional Reduced Fare Permit regional day pass last year. There still is no youth or low-income regional day pass on the table.
The day pass would be accepted on all services in the ORCA pod except Washington State Ferries. It would cover full fare on all services except the King County Water Taxis, the longest trips on Sounder, and Community Transit’s commuter routes.
There are several paper day passes among agencies in the ORCA pod, but none of them are accepted on more than one service. Sound Transit has Sounder and Link day passes, each not accepted on the other train service. Pierce Transit recently started a Pierce-Transit-only day pass, available both on ORCA and as a paper day pass purchased while boarding a bus. Seattle Streetcar offers day passes by advanced mail order, and will be making day passes available at its ticket vending machines later this spring. In each case, these day passes have a version for full fare, RRFP, youth, and (where honored for a reduced fare) LIFT.
It seems conceptually straightforward to offer a regional youth day pass only on the youth ORCA card, and to offer a low-income day pass only on the ORCA LIFT card. Indeed, a low-income day pass could be a piece of the puzzle to replacing the administratively-expensive Metro free-tickets-for-the-homeless program. However, ORCA LIFT is currently not honored for a reduced fare on ST Express, Sounder, Pierce Transit, Community Transit, Everett Transit, and Washington State Ferries.