METRO CONNECTS Long-Range Plan

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Metro Connects

Service Quality Investments

Next generation ORCA Vendor support for the current ORCA system will expire in 2022, and the six ORCA agencies in the Puget Sound region are designing the next-generation fare collection system. Technology has changed significantly, and the ORCA partners will continue exploring opportunities to speed up fare collection. Next generation ORCA will:  Make fare payment more convenient by allowing customers to manage accounts in real time and use their phones to pay their fare via a new ORCA app or credit card.  Improve equitable access to transit by increasing the number of retail locations where customers can load their account with cash.  Support all-door boarding, significantly speeding boarding for customers.  Be open architecture, meaning it can grow and adapt as new technology options become available. This will allow integration with other systems such as payment for parking at park-and-rides, shared mobility and micro-mobility providers, and transportation network companies.

Two important changes occurred after the 2017 adoption of Metro Connects. The King County Council adopted a flat fare for adults, making fare payment faster and easier. And Metro built on its ORCA LIFT program, which offers subsidized fare cards for riders who meet the income qualifications, by adding a fully subsidized transit pass for people in extreme poverty. ORCA LIFT saves money for participants and reduces cash fare payment on buses. Metro will continue pursuing other strategies to speed up boarding and make transit easier and safer to use. For more information Metro is committed to advancing equity through an income-based approach to fares and by ensuring that qualified riders can find the right reduced fare or program for them. For more information about Metro’s reduced fare programs, visit www.kingcounty.gov/WhichORCAFare.

What will it take? 

Move toward all-door boarding and off-board payment to make bus trips faster and enable Metro to provide more service with the same resources. Work with ORCA partners to implement next generation ORCA and increase the number of retail locations customers can access to add value to their account. Implement all-door boarding systemwide. Invest in onboard and offboard fare collection equipment. Expand alternative payment methods and provide new fare purchase sites.

Move toward a system without cash payment on-board buses, paper tickets, and paper transfers. Ensure that customers can purchase fare products with cash through an expanded retail network and other off-coach payment options. This will speed boarding and ensure cash customers can still use the system without paying more than the necessary fare.

 Ensure affordability is not a barrier preventing people from riding public transit. Implement a targeted approach to fare discounts, ensuring that riders most in

King County Metro Long Range Plan

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