Understanding Seattle Transit: What is an ORCA Card?

Aug. 10, 2016 Moving to Seattle


Seattleites are the first to admit that Seattle traffic is frustratingly migraine-inducing. Between the high cost of parking and the stop-and-go traffic, the idea of commuting to work in Downtown Seattle is probably frightening for new residents, but there is hope! Seattle transit is catching on exponentially. In fact, Seattle recently surpassed Chicago as the 2nd most bus-reliant city in the United States… but that’s not the only way to get around in the Puget Sound. Public Transit comes with a plethora of other options, including:

  • Bus
  • Light Rail
  • Train
  • Streetcar
  • Ferry / Water Taxi
  • Rideshare

So fear not, new (and future) Seattleites! In the coming weeks, we’re giving you the run down on everything you need to know about Seattle’s Public Transportation, keeping you prepared when the time comes to commute to your new job in the city. We start today with the ORCA Card.

What is an Orca card?

If you are either coming here without a car (even some of our employees are carless by choice) or have decided to leave the car at home and hop on transit daily, consider purchasing an ORCA Card.  ORCA Cards are your transit pass – giving you access to transit options around the Puget Sound including those in King, Kitsap, and Pierce Counties. The card itself costs $5 and can be purchased in a plethora of accessible locations. Once you purchase your ORCA Card, you can choose whether you’d like to pre-load it with money (much like a gift card) or purchase one of the monthly pass packages, which is the best deal for those commuting often.

There are many employers in the Seattle area that will offer employees free or discounted ORCA Card monthly passes to make getting to and from work a little bit easier. Additionally, if you find yourself on a tighter, more limited income, King County offers the ORCA Lift Card to income-qualified residents.

If you still have questions about the ORCA Card, or are curious about the Wave2Go (a pass for vehicles on ferries and tolls), check the Washington State Department of Transportation’s website for additional information.