As of today, October 7, the Seattle Center Monorail has a new payment option: the ORCA card in your pocket, bag, or phone case. After five years of study and negotiations earlier this year from the rest of the ORCA consortium, the monorail is now better integrated into the regional transit system as a real commuter option.
Monorail riders using their ORCA cards will line up at the regular ticket booths and present their card to the cashier. After a quick tap with a handheld reader, you’ll be able to board the monorail, which runs every 10 minutes between Westlake Station and the Seattle Center. The monorail will work similar to a normal bus, with both daily and monthly passes accepted as payment alongside e-purse deductions. The two-hour transfer offered with ORCA transactions also apply to the monorail.
The monorail will continue to accept cash, credit/debit cards, and mobile tickets. Paper transfers from Metro buses will not be accepted. The monorail has accepted mobile tickets through Metro’s TransitGo app since January 2018.
With the new ORCA availability, fare for all monorail riders will be increased. One-way fares for adults are now $3, while youth, senior, disabled, and ORCA Lift customers pay $1.50. An active duty member of the U.S. military is also able to get the $1.50 discounted rate with a valid military ID, but this only applies to paper tickets. Round trip fares remain the price of two one-way tickets.
The monorail takes approximately 2 minutes to make the short trip between the Seattle Center and Westlake Center. The Seattle Center terminal is located on the east side of the Center Armory Building, along Thomas Street near the Space Needle. The Westlake Center terminal is on the third floor of the shopping center and is accessible from within the mall, using outdoor entrances on 5th Avenue, or from a stairway and elevator from the Westlake light rail station’s mezzanine.
The first 100 riders today will receive a small prize from the Seattle Center, while random ORCA users will be eligible for other prizes throughout the week.
The monorail already carries 2 million annual passengers, averaging about 5,000 riders on weekdays and 9,400 on Saturdays. With ORCA integration and the completion of arena renovations to house a new NHL team, this number is expected to grow substantially within a few years. To accommodate the increased patronage, the arena renovation project plans to also include funds to rebuild the Westlake Center terminal with a new outdoor entrance and other improvements.