Mayor Ed Murray has proposed to bring ORCA cards to the Seattle Center Monorail, giving commuters, residents, students, and visitors more options to access the iconic Seattle Center campus and Uptown neighborhoods by connecting the Monorail to the region’s transportation system and downtown employment center.
“Seattle Center is becoming more connected to downtown, and the Monorail is the best path between these two important hubs,” said Mayor Murray. “Creating a seamless transit network that ultimately sweeps across downtown will connect Queen Anne to South Seattle, the University of Washington to the Gates Foundation, KeyArena to SeaTac. The Monorail may have been built in a different era, but it plays a vital role for connecting Seattle Center to today’s regional transportation network.”
“At Seattle Center, we strive to create exceptional events and experiences, which begins with outstanding access,” said Robert Nellams, director of Seattle Center. “Integration into the ORCA system will ease the path to our campus for millions of visitors, encouraging greater use of the extraordinary amenities offered throughout the grounds.”
Seattle Center and the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) conducted a year-long study of Monorail ridership and found that over two million people ride the monorail annually. The study also found that by bringing ORCA to the Monorail, ridership will increase between seven to 16 percent over the first three years of implementation due to the increased convenience of taking the Monorail to access Seattle Center and the Uptown neighborhood.
Under the proposal, Seattle Center and SDOT will work with King County Metro (Metro) to become an ORCA affiliate member. As an affiliate member, the Monorail will add ORCA payment to the existing cash payment option and planned credit card option. Once ORCA is implemented, Monorail fare categories will be realigned to reflect those charged by other ORCA agencies (such as Metro). The study projects that after the Monorail institutes its postponed $0.25 fare increase in October of 2017 and implements a new $0.25 charge to cover the additional operating costs, total revenues will cover the expanded ORCA program and see positive net revenues.