Yes, employees will pay more, but they also get access to a lot more. And the really good news is: There’s no change in the process to get it.
What is it? An Orca card.
What had been a King County Metro Transit FlexPass will now be the new regional Orca card. Starting August 27, qualifying Shoreline Community College employees will be able to purchase the annual Orca card at the discounted rate of $76.83. That’s for 12 months of riding on Community Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit, Metro Transit, Pierce Transit, and Sound Transit. And what about seafaring employees? Access to the Washington State Ferries system can be added and paid for by the individual employee once the card is issued by the college.
Due to the increased cost of the ORCA Card, there will be a one-time annual non-refundable deduction of $76.83 from the employee’s next paycheck following receipt of the card. The $76.83 is a pre-tax deduction.
“Metro is joining the other transit agencies in moving to the regional Orca system,” said Stephen P. Smith, SCC Vice President for Human Resources and Legal Affairs. “We wanted to continue to offer transit passes and this is the option that is available. It is more expensive to the employee, but the Orca program also offers much more value.”
Smith said the real work in setting up the program with Metro Transit was done by Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell and his adminsitrative assistant, Sharon Wines. "Without them, this wouldn''t have happened," Smith said.
Employees who want one of the new Orca passes will do just what they’ve done in the past: Notify Debbie Sherman in the Human Resources Department by e-mail or phone (206-546-5880) that you’d like a pass and make arrangements to pick it in HR.
Associate faculty with annual contracts, pro-rata, or affiliate assignments and permanent employees may pick-up their passes beginning August 27, 2009. Part-time faculty teaching 50% or greater may pick-up their ORCA Card when their teaching assignment has been officially confirmed after October 6, 2009.
Payment for the card must be done in a one-time payroll deduction.
The details of the Orca pass for SCC employees are outlined in the 2009-10 use agreement. Some of those details include use of the card by only the employee and a $5 charge to replace a lost card. Another feature of the new Orca program, because it is a magnetic strip “swipe” card, is that the services can be added, or withdrawn, via computer interface.
For example, while ferry service isn’t included on the card under the college plan, individual users can go online to add and pay for that feature. Also, if a card is lost or a holder is using a card in violation of policies, that card can be rendered inactive.
One of the interesting features of the program is the “Home Free Guarantee.” The idea is that more people will use public transit if they know that, in a pinch, they’ll be able to get home when they need to. The Home Free Guarantee, with some restrictions, pays the cost of a taxi from the place of employment to home. The feature is part of the Orca card being made available to SCC employees.
“We’re excited about the potential of this new program as benefit to Shoreline Community College employees,” Smith said. “As with any new program, there may be bugs to work out, but the idea of a Puget Sound regional transit pass is a good one and we’re pleased to be able to participate.”