Editor’s note: This post is the second in a series about using an ORCA card to connect between buses and Link. The first post focused on how to get an ORCA card to make free and easy transfers.

Using an ORCA card makes transfers between buses and Link free and easy. But there are details you may still wonder about when it comes to the specific trips you want to take once our service changes goes into effect on Sat., March 26.

We’re hoping it will help to learn how some example Metro customers and example trips show how using the new and improved connections works.

Three example riders work through their new trips using ORCA cards:

Rosa: New ORCA card makes transfers easier

Get a new adult ORCA card at a ticket vending machine.
Get a new adult ORCA card at a ticket vending machine.

Rosa lives in Wedgwood in northeast Seattle and has a job in Pioneer Square as a social worker. She doesn’t qualify for a youth or senior or reduced fare pass, so she’s bought her own ORCA card with a $2.75 monthly pass that costs her $99 each month. She also has $100 loaded on the card in her E-purse in case she needs to go on longer-distance trips that cost more than $2.75 – places like her brother’s apartment in Mountlake Terrace or the airport.

To get ready for Link light rail coming to northeast Seattle, Rosa visited Metro’s website and Trip Planner and learned how her bus trip to work will change on March 26 and made a commute plan.

Here’s what she’ll do to get to work that first Monday after the new light rail stations open: In the morning, Rosa catches Route 71 near her house, tapping her ORCA card on the reader on the bus. Her one-zone bus ride costs $2.75, which is covered by her monthly pass. She gets off the bus at the University of Washington light rail station and connects to Link in the new tunnel.

Before she gets on the train, she taps her ORCA card on the platform reader. She then rides to Pioneer Square Station, gets off the train, taps her ORCA card on the platform reader again, and makes her way to work. The fare to ride light rail between these two stations is $2.50, which is less than the $2.75 monthly pass Rosa has, so she isn’t charged anything more for the train ride. It’s covered by the pass.

For those two farther trips she makes regularly to see her brother and to go on a trip? She’ll get charged the difference between the price of each trip and her $2.75 monthly pass. If she rides to Mountlake Terrace, the cost by bus from Seattle is $3.75. So, she’ll be charged $1 from her E-purse (the $3.75 fare is $1 more than her $2.75 pass). And if she rides to the airport by train from UW, the cost for that trip is $3.25. So she’ll be charged $0.50 from her E-purse (the $3.25 fare is $0.50 more than her $2.75 pass).

Craig and Dave: Student and senior ORCA cards are easy-to-use

Just tap and go with your ORCA card.
Just tap and go with your ORCA card.

For this example, we’re going to act as if it’s early April and the March 26 service change has already happened. Craig is a high school student heading to a baseball game at the University of Washington with his grandpa Dave. They both live in West Seattle and are meeting up at a RapidRide C Line stop to take transit to the game and avoid traffic waits and paying to park.

Craig already has his youth reduced fare ORCA card, which he got by mail after sending in the mail order form, $5 card fee and a copy of his student ID as proof of age to qualify for the $1.50 youth fare. His ORCA card has a $1.50 monthly pass that costs $54 each month.

Dave now has an ORCA card after learning about the easy connection between buses and trains that will get him to the UW. He got his senior reduced fare ORCA card in-person at Metro customer services in Pioneer Square, showing ID to prove he’s over age 65. The Metro customer service agent gave him a Regional Reduced Fare Permit to show operators he’s qualified for the $1 senior fare along with his new ORCA card. He decided to pre-load the card’s E-purse with $100 instead of buying a monthly pass.

For RapidRide C and D lines riders, transfer to Link in downtown Seattle in the tunnel.
For RapidRide C and D lines riders, transfer to Link in downtown Seattle in the tunnel.

When Craig and Dave meet at the RapidRide stop, they each tap their card on the reader and board the bus. They get off the bus in downtown Seattle at Third Avenue and walk to Link light rail in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel. They tap their cards on the platform reader before riding a northbound train, get to the University of Washington station in minutes, tap their cards again when they get off the train and walk to the game.

What were they charged? Since Craig is under 19 years old, all his trips on both Metro and Link light rail are at the youth fare of $1.50 per trip. His $1.50 monthly pass covers them all. No additional charges from his E-purse.

And it’s similar with his grandpa since he’s older than 64. All his trips on Metro and Link are $1. Since he doesn’t have a monthly pass, each trip is deducted from his account on his ORCA card. So the RapidRide trip from West Seattle to downtown Seattle costs Dave $1. He then gets a no-cost transfer for the next two hours, meaning train ride to UW doesn’t cost him anything extra. The total trip costs Dave $1. When the game’s over, and he and Craig head home he’ll still only pay $1 for the whole trip. His $100 pre-loaded ORCA card now has $98 left in the E-purse.

Peter: ORCA LIFT discounted fare saves money

Authorized ORCA LIFT enrollment offices are located throughout King County.
Authorized ORCA LIFT enrollment offices are located throughout King County. Find one on the enrollment locations map.

Peter lives near Columbia City and works part-time as a parking garage attendant on Capitol Hill. He’s always paid his Route 9 bus fare with cash and doesn’t have an ORCA card. He lives close to the Columbia City light rail station, but also to other bus routes. He read a few weeks ago that Link light rail is is serving the new Capitol Hill station about three blocks from his job, so he figures he’ll start riding the train.

When Peter told a coworker about the new station opening nearby, the coworker told him about Metro’s new ORCA LIFT reduced fare program. He thinks he qualifies because of his income so he went online and found the ORCA LIFT website, learning that for a household of one person he can get a reduced transit fare if he makes less than $23,500 per year. He did the math after getting together a few paychecks and realized he me the qualifications. To double-check, he called Metro customer services at 206-553-3000 and the person he spoke with also thought he qualified.

Following the instructions online, Peter got his two paycheck stubs – 30 days’ worth of salary information – along with his driver’s license and walked to a nearby authorized ORCA LIFT enrollment office on his day off at the Columbia Public Health Center on 37th Avenue South. He received his new ORCA LIFT card and walked straight to the Columbia City light rail station to add a monthly pass using a ticket vending machine.

All Metro and Link light rail rides are $1.50 for ORCA LIFT qualified riders, so he bought the $1.50 monthly pass for $54 per month. As soon as the new Capitol Hill station opens he’ll ride from Columbia City to work on one train in less than 30 minutes, making sure to tap his new ORCA card before he gets on and when he gets off at the card readers on the platform.

Peter and his coworker did the math on how much he’ll save on commute trips. Since he works three days a week and used to pay a full adult peak fare, he now thinks the $1.50 monthly pass will save him $66 per month, or $792 per year. And that doesn’t count all the other personal trips he can make with the monthly pass for no additional cost.

Get your ORCA card today

Learn about new Link connections.
Learn about new Link connections between buses and light rail.

To wrap up, we hope this helps riders see that ORCA cards make connecting between buses and trains easier and more affordable. With new Link light rail stations at the University of Washington and Capitol Hill now open, you’ll be able to experience Link’s new, state-of-the-art extension and get to new neighborhoods on the train.

Starting March 26, you’ll get to experience the newly redesigned and improved Metro bus system that brings people to these new stations as part of our service change. It means we can speed up travel times and use buses to serve more communities in northeast and central Seattle with higher-frequency routes.

If you don’t have and ORCA card, make sure to get one set up today at a customer service outlet near you or call 206-553-3000. And don’t forget to see if you qualify for the new ORCA LIFT reduced fare card. You may also qualify for a Regional Reduced Fare Permit or senior or youth fare to make traveling less expensive.