Seattle and Paying to ride the bus

Seattle is finally introducing its version of NYC's highly convenient Metrocard.

From the SeattlePI.com:

It's a transit pass and pay-per-ride card that can be used throughout King, Kitsap, Snohomish and Pierce counties. It's three years later and $5 million more expensive than expected.

But ORCA -- One Regional Card for All -- is here, starting Monday.


Riders can load the cards with monthly passes and $5 to $300 of credit to pay for transit rides. They will tap them against (or just hold them in front of) readers on buses and in rail stations, can use them for transfers within two hours of paying for a ride, and can use them for multiple modes and zones on one trip, with each tap of the card charging the incremental fare difference.


I particularly like that last paragraph. It answers most of the questions I had about the pass.

I need to get one of these ORCA cards

I rarely ride the bus. I work from home so I don't have a regular commute, and my normal range of activity keeps me within walking distance of my building. There are times, though, when the bus (and this summer light rail) could be more convenient.

But paying cash for the bus just seems complicated. The fares change depending on the time of day. Some parts of the area are free; others are not. Sometimes you pay getting on the bus; other times getting off it.

Yes, I know these are silly concerns. Thousands of people ride the Seattle area transit system every day with no problems. But I don't have room in my brain for those rarely used details. It's too full of TV theme songs.

I can envisions putting $20 or $30 on this card, though, and just keeping it in my wallet. If I want to ride the bus, I can just swipe or wave my non-expiring card. No dealing with exact change or passes that expire.

So in addition to making the transit system easier for most users, Metro will also be picking up at least one new rider.


brokenteepee said...

Irony in naming a card for a large vehicle that opens it's "mouth" to let in passengers after a large sea mammal that opens its mouth to eat other sea creatures. Hmmmmm

Chameleon said...

Love Pricilla's comment!

OT, though - I'm all for anything that makes public transit more useful, easier and more accessible to most people. Our local RTA is switching over from a complicated system of cash and paper transfers to a renewable bus pass - unfortunately, because public transit serves mostly rental/non-property owners, it's an easy hit whenever there are city and state budget changes. We just took another.

Carl said...

I am glad they didn't come up with a name like S.L.U.T.

Grampy said...

I drove a Bus for 28 years. It is a necessary evil for the city. People really rely on them. It is nice to see them update the system.

Cromely said...

@Pricilla: I'm surprised they didn't name it after the salmon.

@Chameleon: I think part of the problem transit has is that it is relatively easy to calculate the per rider subsidy the tax payers are paying. Calculating the per card driver/passenger subsidy is much more complicated and doesn't lend itself to easy headlines and slogans.

@Carl: I got a huge, immature kick out of that.

@Grampy: 28 years is impressive. That's got to be a tough gig.