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ORCA Recovery Cards have empowered more people to take transit to work, school, errands, visit friends and family, and more

Click on the image below to see a full-size infographic about the program.

This summer, we gave unlimited ORCA cards to 1,665 people working in the Chinatown, Little Saigon, Japantown, and Pioneer Square neighborhoods in food service and grocery industries. These “ORCA Recovery Cards” are valid through the end of 2021. 

We’re grateful to everyone who came to collect an ORCA Recovery Card. About one in every five people who received a card took time out of their busy day to respond to some survey questions about how they were using the card and how it has affected their life.  

We wanted to help folks get to work and around Seattle more easily, and the results are in! Here’s what we heard from your neighbors using the ORCA Recovery Card. 

People are using their new ORCA card and using it frequently. We were happy to hear from people who have been able to explore new areas of their city and community with the ORCA Recovery Card. 

91% of people use transit more frequently than they did before receiving their ORCA card. 84% use their ORCA card three or more times per week.  

One person said, “I’ve been around the world and back with this ORCA Recovery card…There are some places I never would have gone to if it weren’t for this Recovery Card. I don’t have to worry about all the extra expenses and things. Anything that doesn’t involve me carrying a lot of things or being with too many people, I’m on the bus. And [this card] has dropped my expenses down significantly.” 

9 out of every 10 people used their ORCA Recovery Card to go to work in the last two weeks. 93% say that it is convenient for them to use the ORCA Recovery card to take transit to and from work. 95% feel that they save money with the ORCA Recovery Card. 

The ORCA Recovery Card is helping employees get to work affordably and efficiently – just like we were hoping it would! 

“Public transit is really important to me because I need it to go to work everyday,” one person explained. “My place of work moved locations so I need to take transit every morning. It’s really convenient because I just need to take one bus for 10 minutes to get to work. I also work a part time job on the weekends, and its also convenient for me to take the bus there. Other than to hard-to-get-to places, I prefer taking transit. While on the bus, I can rest or do something else.” 

With an ORCA card, paying for transit can be more efficient. New ORCA card users now have an easier way to pay their fare.  

Over half didn’t have an ORCA card before this, and over 80% of those people paid for transit with cash. 

One person explained, “My boss could tell you I haven’t been late ever since [receiving the card.] Just having the card means you can just wake up and get straight to the bus or whatever and you don’t have to worry about doing anything else, and that convenience has saved me a lot of time and has allowed me to make my schedule work a lot more efficiently.” 

The ORCA Recovery Card is helping people go other places, too – like home, to the grocery store, and to see friends and family. 

Enabling people to see family more easily in a busy day is about more than just transportation. It is about social connections, emotional well-being, and balance. 

58% used their ORCA Card to go home, 42% used it to go to the grocery store, and 35% used it to visit local businesses. 31% used the card to go visit friends and family. 

One person said, “I go to work. I go see my son. I can go everywhere. Without the Recovery card I couldn’t do that. I can go to fun places, find good food, and more.” 

Another person explained, “I’m super excited to take transit to visit my family members. I will be visiting them a lot more often now that I can get close. Uber and Lyft is so much more expensive now and I just couldn’t afford to see them very often. I will be seeing family a lot more now.” 

The ORCA Recovery Card is helping people save money on transportation and could be encouraging them to take transit more. We’re making it easier through the ORCA Recovery Card for people to avoid driving, which helps us all meet climate change goals, too. 

Over half don’t have or share a car, so must take transit, walk, bike, or find some other way to get to work. For those who have a car or share one with someone else, only 20% drove or carpooled to work in the last two weeks. So, even those with a car are choosing to take the bus (78%) and/or light rail (27%), while others are biking, walking, or using other ways to get to work. 

Responses to our survey help inform the future of the program, and we are happy to see that the ORCA Recovery Cards are filling a need. Keep an eye out on our ORCA Recovery Card Program webpage for more news on this program in the future.  

Thank you, Seattle! The ORCA Recovery Card program is possible thanks to 80 percent of Seattle voters passing the Seattle Transit Measure, 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.