Here's what you should know if you're a public transit newbie in the Seattle area
We're being urged to use public transit as much as possible after the Alaskan Way Viaduct closure. But if you've never taken a bus or light rail, some of the rules might catch you off guard.
Some seasoned transit users predict delays in loading buses and commuter trains because of new riders who are not adequately prepared. Their advice? Confirm your routes in advance make sure your wallet is ready for the trip.
Here are the public transit basics: The typical adult bus fare on Metro Transit in King County is $2.75 one way. That entitles you to a transfer that's good for 2 hours. For the West Seattle Water Taxi the one-way adult fare is $5.75.
Just remember — on most public transit, you need exact change; there's no such thing as getting change back.
Seasoned West Seattle bus rider Domenica says make sure you have plenty of singles and a lot of quarters.
"If you have a five dollar bill and your ticket is like, two something, they'll keep the five. Or you'll stay on the curb without a ride," Domenica warned.
Your best bet is to buy a re-loadable Orca card so you don't have to worry about exact change. Talk to your employer, or check the Orca website for a list of local retailers that sell Orca passes.
An Orca card will cost you $5 for the pass itself. Some employers share the cost so you pay less. The card is good on all transit buses, Link Light Rail, Sounder Commuter trains, Washington State Ferries and the West Seattle Water Taxi.
In fact, on the water taxi, the Orca fare is 75 cents cheaper than if you pay with cash or buy a single ticket.
Go online, set up your account and load all of the money you think you'll need to your Orca card — also referred to as your "E-purse." Just be warned, it could take 1 to 2 days for that money to show up in your Orca account. So add money to your account well in advance of needing it.
Seasoned riders say be diligent about monitoring your Orca balance, and always have some exact change on hand — just in case.
Another tip: always remember to tap your card reader before your ride leaves to make sure your payment is recorded. Especially on transit where multiple doors open at the same time for boarding and disembarking.
The first non-payment violation gets you a warning, but the second time you'll get a ticket for $124.
Also be aware that if you're 65 or older or have a disability, you can get a special Orca pass that gets you significant travel discounts. Instead of $2.75 on the bus, for example, the senior or disabled rate is just $1.00 one way. Instead of $5.75 and $5.00 on the West Seattle Water Taxi, seniors or riders with disabilities pay $2.50. You must apply for the special permits however, and that must be done in person.