4 ORCA cards

Starting June 1st, the first youth ORCA a child gets is free with proof of age. Subsequent cards (to replace ones lost or stolen) still cost $5. This now matches the policy for the Regional Reduced Fare Permit.

Youth cards are available at customer service offices, or more conveniently via mail.

This continues the gradual ratchet of reducing and eliminating fares without threatening the core of revenue provided by employer passes. Through low income fares, ultra-low-income fares, free passes for Seattle Public Schools students, and periodic ORCA giveaways, there are many ways to chip away at what for most is already a modest fare bill.

20 Replies to “First youth ORCA now free”

  1. Great that the card is free, but limiting to mail and customer service locations (lots of kids can’t get to Metro offices and most don’t use mail) still creates barriers. What happened to being able to get the card online? Great start, but more can be done. Really frustrated LWSD won’t partner with Metro to make youth ORCA cards available at schools.

    1. Have we really reached the point that people can’t address an envelope, find a mailbox, or take it to a post office if they don’t have any stamps? The most concerning part is printing out the form, for those who don’t have a working printer or Internet (many printer models have been out of stock since the pandemic started).

      1. Yeah, I think that’s the issue (printing the form). Libraries have that (and libraries may even have the forms). As mentioned below, most school districts have a program.

      2. The downtown Seattle library did have tax forms for pick up this year, so maybe they have other forms.

    2. I didn’t realize LWSD didn’t offer Orca cards. This is frustrating because in non pandemic times, the LWSD policy for students to get to LWHS is take the public bus; they don’t offer standard yellow busses.

  2. Will these cards be a different color? Will they have a different beep?

    If not, enforcement will be tough. I could see these cards having a cash value on the street — for illegal use.

    1. The first one is free, but subsequent cards cost $5. I don’t see how you would establish a black market that way.

    2. Yes, the many and varied illegal uses of *checks notes* bus passes.

      Did you even read what you wrote?

  3. Seems like an easy outreach win would be to go to communities with large youth ridership potential and have a temporary community service center setup to give out ORCA cards to kids.

    I’m always a little miffed that ORCA doesn’t do more alternative designs. The basic blue card is fine, but it’s an opportunity to get some more art into the card.

    1. My guess is there are plenty of places that give out the cards, along with the applications. The problem is getting people to fill out the forms and setting up an account. It is easy for Seattle public school students. First day of orientation they get a free, unlimited-use card. But other kids (in other school districts) have to deal with the paperwork and setting up an account.

    2. There are roving ORCA-signup booths for seniors and the like. I don’t know how widespread or universal they are.

  4. As a member of the Business Program Team at King County Metro with the specific responsibility of supporting K-12 school districts with an ORCA program, most (not all) major districts in the county provide an ORCA card for high school (and sometimes middle school) students. This includes SPS, Bellevue SD, LWSD and Highline SD. MISD is bringing back its ORCA program for the 2021-22 school year.

    Each school district defines who are eligible participants in their ORCA program and no district provides an ORCA card for elementary students (K – 5.) Please reach out to your district’s Transportation department to see if your student is eligible. King County Metro views youth as a priority population and fully supports youth mobility.

    1. What about private schools? Seattle is giving free ORCA passes to schoolkids, but I don’t remember if it’s limited to public-school attendees.

  5. Another option for customers: Metro’s online reduced fare portal, where riders can apply for Youth ORCA cards, as well as Regional Reduced Fare Permits (for seniors or riders with disabilities) and an ORCA LIFT card. https://reducedfare.kingcounty.gov/

    1. It’d be really lovely if RRFP users could add funds online as well as apply there, but we’re barred from that because in the system our cards are ‘owned’ by another entity already (presumably the RRFP program). Having to track down a fare machine to add funds is a rather major annoyance (I’ve literally plotted out where I live by proximity to fare machines since getting one).

      1. Log in at https://orcacard.com/ . After you’re logged in, click on “Have a card”. After filling out the card information, it will be linked to you account. At that point, you can add value online.

      2. I have an account established, and I’ve tried to add the card. It refuses to allow it, saying the card is already owned by another user. No one else has so much as seen or held my card since I got it.

  6. VTA light rail in San Jose is suspended due to shootings at a train-maintenance yard that killed several workers and led to the yard being evacuated. The yard is “in downtown San Jose” according to an MSNBC report, and is evacuated. The shootings didn’t reach the train control room. Bus bridges are in effect.

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