New to public transit? King County Metro offers advice for a smoother commute during viaduct closure

City and county leaders are encouraging people to use public transit, and it?€™s been a busy last few days for the King County Water Taxi and King County Metro.

SEATTLE — Now that we are in Day 3 of the viaduct closure, you may notice some new faces on your buses or light rail trains. Transit officials are expecting an increase in ridership from now until the new tunnel opens and they have some advice for those who are taking public transportation for the first time.

The biggest problem, according to King County Metro, is that new transit riders are failing to get themselves an ORCA card before jumping on board. The ORCA cards will allow you to access all kinds of public transportation from transit buses, Sounder commuter trains, and Link Light Rail, to the West Seattle water taxis.

Those without a card can of course pay with cash, but they will need the exact amount as drivers do not give change.

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Credit cards are not accepted on board buses or water taxis. You can pay for light rail with a credit card because you buy the ticket before boarding.

They say using the ORCA Card -- which is basically a reloadable debit card -- is the easiest and fastest way to ride all kinds of public transportation in the region.

You can buy an ORCA card at a number of places, including vending machines at your transit station.

You then load in the money using cash or credit cards and then tap the card on a reader to get on everything from the bus, to link light rail to water taxis.

“While it's easy to buy an ORCA Card, it's also easy to lose ORCA Card, so put it in a safe place, and if you register online, if you lose it you can keep that amount on your card,” said Chrissie Russilo with King County Metro.

You can add money to the card online, at ticket vending machines or at participating retailers.

Discounted cards are available for youths, those over 65, people with disabilities and low income residents. Many employers also share in the cost and help you pay less.

But keep in mind if you choose to refill your ORCA card online, it will take a few days for the money to go into your account.