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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 17 March 2009

ORCA smart card will enable riders to move between bus, train and ferries across county lines using only one fare card

Paying your fare to ride the bus, ferry or light rail throughout the Puget Sound region will soon be as simple as swiping a single card, following approval today by the Metropolitan King County Council of a plan for rollout later this spring of the long-awaited ORCA regional fare coordination system. 

"This system makes various forms of transit more accessible to all riders," said Councilmember Jane Hague, sponsor of the ordinance and chair of the Council's Physical Environment Committee that oversees transportation. "The new ORCA card will help riders have a more seamless and enjoyable transportation experience."

The One Regional Card for All (ORCA) will be a non-touch smart card used for payment on seven transportation systems: Sound Transit, King County Metro Transit, Community Transit of Snohomish County, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit and Washington State Ferries.

The system is easy and fast. ORCA uses an electronic smart card that automatically calculates any fare due. Passengers will simply "tap" their ORCA Card on target card readers and enjoy their ride. The card will register a valid pass or deduct the appropriate fare from a customer account. Customers can load transportation value or products on their card online or in person at select retail outlets.

The Council today authorized an updated interlocal agreement with the other six transit agencies that clarifies the roles of all the partners for the rollout of ORCA later this spring. Approvals must still come from the Everett City Council and the state of Washington. The regional fare coordination system has been under development since 2003.

Work on the ORCA system is now in final system design, software and Web site development, and testing to implement system updates and changes based on lessons learned in a customer Beta test. Concurrently, work is underway to complete installation of all equipment, develop employee training programs and plan for the rollout of the new ORCA card to customers.

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