Blog / Published on Jan 18, 2024

ORCA card 101

Use an ORCA card to save money and time on local transit
A man scanning an ORCA card at an ORCA card reader

Pictured above: A man scanning an ORCA card on an ORCA card reader.


If you’ve used public transit in the Puget Sound area, you’ve probably heard of an ORCA card. An ORCA card is the easiest way to pay your transit fares with many local transit agencies, including Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro, Sound Transit, Pierce Transit, and Kitsap Transit. ORCA cards can also be used on walk-on trips on Washington State Ferries, as well as on the Seattle Center Monorail and the Seattle Streetcar.


Using an ORCA card can save you money on transit, with built-in two-hour transfer credit and daily and monthly passes. With light rail coming to Snohomish County in 2024, now is a great time to get an ORCA card so you can easily transfer between transit services with the tap of a card.   


How does an ORCA card work?

To pay your fare with an ORCA card, tap your card on the ORCA card reader as you get on the bus, ferry, or train – and that’s it! The ORCA card replaces cash and coins, so you don’t have to carry change with you. ORCA cards are the size of a debit card, so they easily fit in your wallet or pocket.

On Community Transit buses, just scan your card at the ORCA card reader at the front of each bus as you get on. For Community Transit’s Swift buses, scan your card at the reader located at the end of each Swift station before you come onboard.   


How do I get an ORCA card and add value to it?

You can order an ORCA card online or purchase one in person at select locations. When you order an Adult, Senior (65+), or Youth (6-18) ORCA card online, you will receive it by mail in 5-10 business days. For senior or youth cards, proof of age is required.


 If you need help paying for public transportation, there are ORCA card options for income qualified riders and persons with disabilities. Visit the website and answer a few short questions to find out if you qualify for one of these options.


To add value to your ORCA card, you have two options:

1. You can add a dollar amount to your ORCA card with E-purse and pay as you go, like using a debit card.


2. You can add daily or monthly passes to your card. For riders who take more than 18 roundtrips a month, we recommend the monthly pass. Pick a pass value based on the fare of your most frequent trip. For instance, buy a $2.50 pass if you’re an adult who takes local Community Transit buses. Your monthly pass is good for unlimited rides on transit systems throughout the region, at that value.

Visit the website to explore which option will work better for you and watch tutorials on how to add value to your card using one of these methods.


There is also a myORCA app, which works together with your ORCA card so you can manage your ORCA account and add funds to your card from anywhere, 24/7. You can find it in the Apple IOS Store and Google Play Store


Where can I learn more?

Using an ORCA card is a great way to pay for your transit fare, because it can save you time and money during your travels, especially if you are transferring between local transit agencies. You can learn more about all things ORCA on the website.