Up to 2,000 Seattle employees in Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon, and Pioneer Square will receive an unlimited ORCA card as part of our new ORCA Recovery Card program!

First Hill streetcar. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr.

UPDATE | August 25, 2021

We are distributing ORCA Recovery Cards in Occidental Square on:

Monday, August 30, from 10am – 1pm  

Tuesday, August 31, from 3pm – 6pm

For more information and eligibility requirements, visit our webpage. Click here to preregister. 

To help get Seattle employees to work affordably and efficiently, we are providing up to 2,000 free ORCA cards for people working in the Chinatown, Little Saigon, Japantown, and Pioneer Square neighborhoods in food service and grocery industries.  

Thank you, Seattle! The ORCA Recovery Card program is possible thanks to 80 percent of Seattle voters passing Proposition 1 last November, which created a revenue source for more frequent, reliable, accessible bus service in our city. Through a 0.15% sales tax (the equivalent of 15 cents on a $100 purchase) you are directly supporting COVID recovery in your community. 

The ORCA cards are valued at $100 per month and expire on December 31, 2021.  

This initiative helps support small business recovery by assisting employees in traveling or returning to work in some of our most vibrant neighborhoods. 

Pioneer Square in August 2020. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr.
Pioneer Square in August 2020. Photo Credit: SDOT Flickr. 

This program is particularly helpful for employees who may struggle with travel costs, but are not eligible for existing fare subsidy programs. 

We continue to work toward a just and equitable transportation network as the community moves through the reopening and recovery phases of the public health crisis.  

As part of this effort, we are aligning our transportation investments where there are high numbers of Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC)-owned businesses and in neighborhoods most significantly impacted by COVID-19. Chinatown, Japantown, Little Saigon, and Pioneer Square are a few of these neighborhoods. 

Intersection in CID. Photo Credit: Jordan Samson. 

As we move into recovery, taking transit helps to manage congestion and address climate concerns. King County Metro has implemented innovative health and safety solutions over the past year to make taking transit an option.  

We’ll use data, community feedback and lessons learned from this six-month effort to see if it makes sense to continue the program and/or expand to more neighborhoods. 

“This is a great example of city leaders, agencies, and most importantly, voters helping to support service industry workers, and keep some of our hardest-hit neighborhoods moving during the ongoing economic recovery. Thank you, Seattle. We really appreciate it!” 

Ali Ghambari, owner of Cherry Street Coffee House

Thanks to the heroic efforts of people across our community, Seattle is leading the way as the most vaccinated place in the country, and now, we want to build an equitable and robust recovery post-COVID. As part of our recovery efforts, it is critical that we empower employees in communities most impacted by COVID-19 to get to back to work affordably and efficiently. Now, thanks to voters in Seattle, the ORCA Recovery Card program is one of many steps we are taking as a city to work towards a just and equitable transportation network and recover from the pandemic.” 

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan

“We are continuing our response to COVID-19 through the ORCA Recovery Card effort. As we understand how peoples’ mobility needs are impacted by the pandemic, we are developing innovative programs so Seattle can move and thrive. Simultaneously, we must combat the disproportionate impacts of the virus on communities of color while supporting our businesses and their employees. This program is one important step and we look forward to learning how we can further support our neighbors as we transition into life post-COVID.” 

Sam Zimbabwe, Director, Seattle Department of Transportation

“These communities are seeing an increase in business as workers and tourists return. This program provides employees in the shops and restaurants with easy access to transportation and saves them money as they travel to and from work.” 

Terry White, King County Metro General Manager

“Mobility is key to opportunity, and as more and more people get vaccinated, transit access will open the door to a robust and equitable economic recovery. I’m excited to see the City of Seattle providing workers one of the greatest keys to opportunity in the form of ORCA cards, and King County Metro is proud to help connect people in some of Seattle’s most vibrant communities with access to all our region has to offer.” 

King County Executive Dow Constantine

“Transit is essential for our recovery, especially in communities hit especially hard by the pandemic. I’m thrilled for this pilot of the ORCA program to support Little Saigon, Chinatown, Japantown service workers who were also impacted by racist attitudes over the COVID19 virus. Transit for workers of these neighborhoods will help bring back vibrancy and get us closer to a multimodal city essential for recovery and our climate goals now and in the future.”

Seattle City Council President Lorena Gonzalez