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Dec. 3, 2009

What to know when riding Metro in 2010

Changes will include what you pay and how you travel

With the new year just around the corner, King County Metro Transit is alerting riders of several changes that will take effect beginning Jan. 1, 2010. Those changes will affect transit fares, pass products and how riders transfer between buses and trains in the region.

Metro fares going up

Beginning Jan. 1, Metro riders will see a 25-cent increase in adult and senior/disabled fares. Youth fares will remain unchanged. The increase will also apply to other Metro fare products such as passes and ticketbooks.

The fare increase is one of several approaches Metro is using to help ease the effects of a severe budget shortfall. In addition to fares, Metro is pursuing a number of other strategies to deal with the shortfall including efficiencies and staff reductions.

Standard transit passes shift to ORCA

Now is the time for Metro customers who use monthly PugetPasses and several other pass products to make the switch to ORCA. Standard PugetPasses good for travel on Metro, Community Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit will no longer be sold as a paper pass or card after Dec. 14. Starting the next day on Tuesday, Dec.15, customers will need an ORCA card in order to purchase their PugetPass. Paper passes purchased before the cutoff will still be accepted through their expiration date. Employer-provided passes that are valid and unexpired will continue to be accepted by Metro and other participating agencies.

Customers using employer-provided passes of any type, including Flex Passes and U-PASS, will also continue to be converted to new ORCA cards through 2010 as annual contracts expire. There is no need to acquire an individual ORCA card because your employer will provide a card upon conversion.

Know where to buy!

Fare products that can be added to an ORCA card are available at three retail locations in King County. (Thriftway on Vashon Island and two Saar’s markets in South Seattle and Burien.)

While several other retail outlets will continue to provide some Metro fare products, such as ticketbooks and reduced fare stickers, ORCA cards will not be available.

Customers can obtain an ORCA card and a full range of pass products at Metro’s sales office on the mezzanine level of Westlake Tunnel Station and at its headquarters in the King Street Center building at the corner of 2nd Ave. and Jackson St. in Seattle. ORCA cards are also available at self-serve ticket vending machines at all ST Link and Sounder train stations, online at, by mail or phone at 1-888-988-6722. (See the attachment for a complete list of ORCA locations in the region.)

The cards are available at no cost through Jan. 31st.  Beginning Feb. 1st, ORCA cards will cost $5.00.

Given the potential for larger demand for ORCA cards heading into the new year, Metro’s sales office on the mezzanine level of the Westlake Tunnel Station will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Saturday Dec. 12th and 19th.

ORCA to replace paper transfers

Customers are also being reminded that beginning Jan. 1 the use of paper transfers between Metro and other bus and rail systems will be eliminated. Instead, transfers will be made electronically using ORCA cards. Paper transfers will continue to be valid when traveling between Metro buses.

ORCA is a smart card-based electronic fare system for public transportation agencies serving King, Kitsap, Pierce and Snohomish counties. ORCA is a durable, plastic smart card that contains a microprocessor. Riders simply “tap” their ORCA card on a card reader on board buses or at train, light rail and ferry stations, and enjoy their ride.

The seven ORCA partners are Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro Transit, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and Washington State Ferries. Together, the agencies serve more than half of Washington’s population and carry about 500,000 riders each weekday.

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