Seattle Transit Blog has a great post up today critiquing a future ORCA card day pass—remember when you could buy those for Metro buses? Well, STB says Metro is set to roll out a "demonstration" of new day passes this spring. An ORCA card you could buy for unlimited trips in a single day would be great for visitors, people who lost their ORCA card, people who don't usually use transit but want to do it multiple times in a day (e.g., for a convention downtown or a festival at Seattle Center).
STB says "a multi-agency ORCA-based day-pass is probably the most requested fare product in the Puget Sound region," but the one Metro is planning sounds pretty fucking lame, according to the details they supplied to STB. The pass would cost $9 and be good for unlimited $4-and-under trips across the different transit agencies that day (if any trip cost more than $4, you'd need extra money). And that $9 price is on top of the $5 you need to get a non-disposable plastic ORCA card, making the real price $14.
STB associate editor Bruce Nourish on some glaring flaws—namely, the price point:
• The day-fare cost is uncompetitive for most local riders, compared to using an existing ORCA card. Off-peak Metro fare is $2.25, peak is up to $3; the highest ST express fare is $3.50. Most other local bus services will be less than Metro. ORCA already provides a two-hour transfer window, and paper transfers are often cut much more generously. You have to ride a lot of transit trips, spaced out through the day, to add up to more than $9. Local riders will already be quite familiar with paying as they normally do, and if it doesn’t make financial sense, they won’t use day-passes, even if they were ubiquitously available. As they will require going out of the way, to a Metro sale partner, I suspect few locals will find them attractive.
• The card+fare cost is uncompetitive for weekend or convention visitors. $14 in a day, or $23 in a weekend, is significantly more than anyone is likely to spend on transit in the Seattle area just paying as they go. Visitors are perhaps less price sensitive and more hassle sensitive, but I suspect they’re also less likely to attempt all-day multi-hop trips around the city and region, which would be the only way to get close to $14. In groups, the numbers look even worse: for three people, $20 apiece would get you out and back to most outlying neighborhoods of interest to tourists in a cab, with far less hassle and time than Metro. People who intend to much spend time beyond the city, in the suburbs, are probably going to rent a car, because off-peak transit just isn’t much good outside of Seattle.
Nourish discusses more flaws—plus the potential upsides—right here.