New ORCA card system for transit riders begins May 16

Starting May 16, hundreds of thousands of ORCA transit customers across the Puget Sound region will have access to a new website, smartphone app and real-time value loading for their ORCA cards. Customers will also begin to see new card readers and vending machines as technology is updated and rolled out at transit locations throughout the region. This will mark the start of ongoing improvements to the ORCA system over the next several years.

Current ORCA users do not need to get a new card at this time but are encouraged to register their cards on the new website,, beginning May 16 to add value to their existing cards. Customers can still add cash to their cards at vending machines, customer service locations and participating retailers.

“We’re beginning to deliver the first features of the new ORCA system and appreciate the patience of riders as we pivot between vendors and launch improvements over the next few years,” said Christina O’Claire, ORCA Joint Board Chair and King County Metro Mobility Director. “Riders can keep using their existing ORCA cards, but also will be able to access updated features that will serve customers better.”

Fares will not be collected between 3 a.m. Saturday May 14 and Monday May 16 at 2:29 a.m. on most area transit systems while the ORCA system transitions to a new system.

Washington State Ferry customers who walk on or are a passenger in a vehicle using an ORCA card to board ferries during the no collection weekend will not be charged but will need to show their ORCA card to attendants. Vehicle-driver fares will be required, and an alternate form of payment will be needed at the toll booths.

During the following weeks, transit customers may experience disruptions while ORCA equipment or account access upgrades are in process. The overall effort spans more than 6,000 pieces of equipment and involves transferring more than 5 million ORCA customer accounts to the new system.

On May 16, new ORCA features will be launched:

  • New ORCA website. will feature real-time card loading, mobile phone accessibility, more payment options and the ability to manage multiple cards.
  • Smartphone app. Customers can manage their ORCA account from any location 24/7 and with the same functionality available on the new website. The app will be available on Apple’s app store and the Google Play store.
  • Business account website. will replace as the place where employers manage their ORCA programs.

ORCA users who want to access the new features can start by creating a new account and registering their existing cards online at or with the myORCA smartphone app.

“When fully launched, the new ORCA system and features will make riding transit easier and more accessible and will help riders save money as they access the ever-expanding transit network in the Puget Sound region,” O’Claire said.

Single-ride and pass prices remain the same. Reduced fare programs will also still be available.

Later in 2022 and 2023, ORCA will be adding more stores to its retail network and introducing a smartphone tap-to-pay option.  After these features are delivered, the ORCA agencies will engage with customers to identify improvements and new features to add in the coming years.

ORCA will hold two virtual open house this month:

For businesses that supply ORCA cards to their employees, Tuesday May 3 – 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Visit

For transit customers, Wednesday May 4 – noon and 7 p.m. Visit

Visit to learn more about upcoming improvements and sign up for project updates.


  1. My vague understanding is they are only collecting about 5% of the 40% of operating costs they expected. Apparently there is no fare enforcement anymore. Get ready for a tax hike free transit for all is coming I guess that might be a good thing if it’s free maybe more people will use it.

  2. Your recollection is accurate only on sound transit and specifically link light rail where there is barrier free entry. Fare collection rates are significantly higher on st express bus and king county metro and community transit buses when entry through front door is required

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