Transportation

ORCA Card Information

ORCA Cards

Update: 

Mailers from the district were sent out to families starting August 18, to students who were enrolled and eligible for an ORCA card either through the district’s eligibility rules in the Transportation Service Standards, or met the requirements for the City of Seattle’s ORCA Opportunity Youth Program as of August 11, 2021.  

If you enrolled after August 11, but meet eligibility criteria outlined below, please note that you will not receive a mailer. The Conditions of Use formis available, or copies will be made available at your school.

All students are required to sign and return the Conditions of Use form to the school to receive their ORCA card. Students in 6th grade – 8th grade also require a parent/guardian signature. Card distribution practices will vary by school.

If you have additional questions, please email transORCA@seattleschools.org.

Who is eligible for ORCA cards?

Students who are registered in our system prior to the start of the new school year will automatically be issued an ORCA card and will be made available for pick up at their school site on orientation day or the first day of school. Those not registered prior to the start of the new school year will not have an ORCA card readily available at their school on the first day and will need to request one.

A Conditions of Use formwill need to be filled out by all students and turned into the students school to receive an ORCA card. For middle school students, the form will require a student and parent signature. For high school students, only the student’s signature is required. 

Please note that changes in school assignment, assignment address, enrollment status, and assignment to a yellow bus may impact your student’s eligibility. 

If you are unsure of eligibility, please email: TransORCA@seattleschools.org

High School Student Eligibility:

All High Students (9th grade – 12th grade) are eligible for ORCA cards either through the District or the City of Seattle ORCA Opportunity Youth program.

  • Cards are valid for use until August 31, 2022 for high school students unless otherwise noted.

The district provides Seattle Public Schools students in high schools/programs that meet eligibility criteria in the Transportation Service Standardswith ORCA cards.

  • The City of Seattle provides ORCA cards to Seattle Public School students who are not eligible for a card from the district and meet the requirements of the City of Seattle’s ORCA Opportunity Youth Program.
    • The City of Seattle’s program will continue to provide ORCA cards for Seattle Public School students as funding permits.

Middle School Student Eligibility:

Middle school students (6th grade – 8th grade) are eligible for District ORCA cards and students who are within the walk zone and apply, may be offered an ORCA card provided by the City of Seattle ORCA Opportunity program.

Seattle Public Schools middle school students who meet eligibility criteria in the Transportation Service Standardswill be provided with an ORCA card from the district. 

The City of Seattle may provide ORCA cards to Seattle Public School students in middle schools, grades 6th-8th, who are not eligible for transportation from the district. The student must meet the following requirements:

  • Students must meet the income criteria outlined on the application
  • Students must live 0.0 to 1.5 miles from home to school distance
  • Students must not be eligible for any other forms of transportation through the District
    • The city of Seattle’s program will continue to provide ORCA cards for Seattle Public School students as funding permits.

Where can I use my ORCA card?

ORCA cards distributed through the Transportation Department cover youth fare for unlimited travel on the following providers: 

  • Bus:   Community Transit, Everett Transit, Kitsap Transit, King County Metro Transit, Pierce Transit and Sound Transit
  • Rail:   Sound Transit, Link Light Rail, Sound Transit Sounder Train (including Rail Plus Partnership with Amtrak Cascades), Seattle Center Monorail
  • Streetcar:   Seattle Streetcar
  • Ferry:   King County Water Taxi and Kitsap Local Ferries and Fast Ferries
  • Access Transportation:   Metro and Kitsap Transit Access Transportation (eligible riders only)

Assistance with Metro bus routes and schedules can be found at Metro’s website.

ORCA Card Replacements

How can I get a replacement if my ORCA card is lost, stolen or damaged during the school year?

If you need to request a replacement card during the schoolyear, please e-mail TransOrca@seattleschools.org and include the following information:

  • Student’s name
  • Student’s Seattle Public Schools ID#
  • A reason for the replacement: Lost/Stolen/Damaged

Replacement fees still apply, $5.50 for the first replacement card and $25.00 for any subsequent replacements. Transportation will confirm the fee owed when requesting replacements.

The replacement fee owed will need to be paid via School Pay by a parent/guardian only . Students are not allowed to make payments.

ORCA cards are prepared and delivered once a week to schools. Requests must be made by Monday 11AM each week to have a card delivered no later than Wednesday of each week during the school year.

How can I get a replacement during the Summer?

Seattle Public Schools buildings are not serving as distribution centers during the Summer as they normally would during the school year. If you need to request an ORCA card during the Summer, please e-mail TransOrca@seattleschools.org and include the following information:

  • Student’s name
  • Student’s Seattle Public Schools ID#
  • A reason for the replacement: Lost/Stolen/Damaged

Replacement fees still apply during the Summer.

ORCA cards are prepared and available for pick up by appointment once a week.  Requests must be made by Monday 12PM each week to have a card available for pick up on Tuesday at JSCEE during the Summer. 


More about Seattle’s ORCA Opportunity Youth Program

The City of Seattle is partnering with Seattle Public Schools to provide high school (9th -12th grade) students who are not eligible for transportation from the district with ORCA cards. They are also providing funding so that all cards issued through the District to Seattle Public Schools students are available for use through the summer.

Learn more about the ORCA Opportunity Youth Program.


ORCA Card Summer Extension FAQ

If my student already has an ORCA card, will they need a new card for the summer?

  • No, students should continue using the ORCA card that they were issued during the school year until they are blocked at the end of August. Students will not need to obtain a separate card for the summer.
  • Cards for the next school year will be issued in September at the start of school, unless otherwise noted.

My student didn’t pick up their card, but I would like them to have a card to use during the summer. Can they still get a card?

  • If it is at least a few weeks prior to the end of the school year, and your student is still enrolled, they can request and claim their ORCA card. 
  • If it is after the normal school year has ended, and your student did not pick up their card, you will not be able to claim a card after the school year ends, to use just for the summer.

What happens after the summer with my student’s ORCA card?

All cards distributed during the 2020-21 school year are valid for use through August 31, 2021, unless otherwise noted. All cards issued will be deactivated/blocked the day after August 31, 2021.

Students who are registered with SPS by mid-August and who are eligible for an ORCA card will automatically be issued a new card for the new school year.  

My student is currently in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade and doesn’t currently have ORCA card, will my student be eligible for the summer extension since they will be a 9th grader next school year?

No, only students who were eligible for an ORCA card during the standard school year are eligible for the summer extension. 

My middle school student is not currently eligible for an ORCA card but will be eligible for once in 9thgrade. May we have an ORCA card for the Summer so my student can familiarize themselves with metro routes?

No, unfortunately we do not provide ORCA cards to students for the sole purpose of familiarizing themselves with metro routes. Only middle school students who were eligible for an ORCA card during the 2020-21 school year are eligible for the summer extension.