Where and when to get an ORCA card

The in basket: Tony Smallbeck was puzzled about a couple of things after reading news stories about and the designated Web site for the new ORCA cards introduced to unify and simplify paying one’s fare to travel on the ferries and mass transit systems in the Puget Sound area.

He now uses a combination ferry-transit pass to commute to Seattle, he said. 

“I understand the concept (of the ORCA card) ,” he said, “but…when I ask my Kitsap Transit drivers if I need one, two said yes, two said no..  Also, there is confusion on whether I can only buy them on the Kitsap side in Bremerton, or somewhere – anywhere – else.

Any ideas?” 

The out basket: Technically, Tony won’t need an ORCA card for about six months, says John Clauson of Kitsap Transit, as the previous devices, such as Tony’s joint ferry-bus pass, will still be effective that long.

But the cards are free now, and will require a $3-$5 purchase after six months. “It’s to his advantage to do it sooner rather than later to avoid the charge,” John said.  

The Bremerton Transportation Center where the ferries land is the only place west of Puget Sound to buy one in person for now, John said. But he is hoping to outfit Safeway stores to be remote locations, as they are now for some existing fare devices.

He expects in-person sites to become less and less important, though, as people go online to order the cards (which would be mailed) and to put money in them to pay fares electronically when boarding a participating agencies’ vessel or vehicle. The cards also can be ordered by phone. 

Kitsap Transit and Washington State Ferres are joined by King County Metro, Community Transit of Snohomish County, Pierce Transit, Everett Transit and Sound Transit, operator of commuter rail, in providing and honoring the ORCA cards. The other agencies also have places to purchase one. They are for pedestrians only.

The online site is www.orcacard.com and the phone number is (888) 988-6722.

One thought on “Where and when to get an ORCA card

  1. Hi Travis – I got all excited reading about the Orca card, but there is a question that isn’t clear on the website or other promotional material, and that is, “Is the Orca card good for car-driver with passengers all in one card?” So I called them, and they said the Orca card will not work for drive-ons at all, because the car ferry toll booths don’t have readers. Too bad!

    They also said that for foot passengers, if you have an “e-purse” on the card, one card could be tapped multiple times for the appropriate amount of passengers. That wasn’t clear on the website either.

    Thanks for your Road Warrior column. It’s the best.


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