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Transit agencies launch ‘improved’ ORCA ticketing system

Under the new system, riders can mange their account on the myORCA mobile app, access fare money instantly on their ORCA cards and move balances between cards.

SEATTLE — A new ORCA ticketing system launched Monday, aiming to boost the ease and efficiency of account management.

“We need to have a system that we are going to be able to grow into the future and the old system was not going to allow us to do that," said Scott Thompson, a spokesperson for Sound Transit, which is one of the seven regional transit agencies that the ORCA card covers.

The new system includes new ticket vending machines, a myORCA mobile app and a new website, myorca.com. Under the new system, transit riders can move balances between cards and manage their account 24/7. The system also gets rid of the one- to two-day delay when loading money onto ORCA cards, allowing riders to access fare money instantly.

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"We are getting new machines, some new functionality to machines," Thompson said.

Additionally, the ORCA retail network is expanding in July, making more locations available for riders to buy an ORCA card or load more money onto their card.

In 2023 or later, the agencies are expected to roll out a mobile payment option where transit riders can tap their smartphone at ticketing stations to pay for their fare. However, Sound Transit said the physical ORCA cards won’t be going away if riders prefer to pay that way.

Emmanuel Agustin, who takes light rail with his kids every weekend, said he’s looking forward to the improvements. Although he still plans to add money to his card on an ORCA vending machine, Agustin said the added efficiency will be key as he expects transit ridership to increase.

“With gas prices nearing $6 a gallon, it's more convenient,” said Agustin. “Traffic is a lot worse than what it used to be, so I love it.”

The ORCA card covers various forms of public transit, including bus, ferry, Link light rail and the Sounder train, with Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and Washington State Ferries.

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