U-PASS & Transit Frequently Asked Questions

Click on the questions to reveal the answers.

General U-PASS questions

What transit fares does the U-PASS cover?

The U-PASS covers full fare on bus transit service from King County Metro Transit, Community Transit, Pierce Transit, Kitsap Transit, Everett Transit and Sound Transit.

U-PASS also covers Sounder commuter rail, Link light rail, King County Water Taxi, Kitsap Fast Ferries, Seattle Streetcar and NightRide.

U-PASS does not cover Washington State Ferries.

How do I use my U-PASS?

Tap your card on the ORCA card reader at the front of the bus or at the yellow wall or pole-mounted ORCA card reader at Link, Sounder or Swift stations. Tap your card on the ORCA card reader and pause until you see the green light and hear the beep.

You tap the reader once to travel by bus, just when you board. For Sound Transit’s Link light rail and Sounder commuter trains, tap the reader once before entering the train for proof of payment and tap again at your destination station as you leave.

At RapidRide stations you have the option to tap on the ORCA reader at the station or on the bus as you enter.

Can I lend my U-PASS to others?

No, your U-PASS is for your personal transportation only. It is non-transferable, meaning you may not give or sell your Husky Card or your U-PASS to any other person. Bus drivers and train fare inspectors can confiscate any Husky Card that does not belong to you.

How do I find the best bus route to take me to the university?

Approximately 50 bus routes from King, Snohomish and Pierce counties come to the University District, with more than 30 coming directly to campus. Contact the Commute Concierge service at 206-221-3701, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. for personalized route planning!

How do I use my U-PASS on the bus, light rail or commuter train?

Tap your card on the ORCA card reader at the front of the bus or at the yellow wall or pole-mounted ORCA card reader at Link, Sounder or Swift stations. Tap your card on the ORCA card reader and pause until you see the green light and hear the beep.

You tap the reader once to travel by bus, just when you board. For Sound Transit’s Link light rail and Sounder commuter trains, tap the reader once before entering the train for proof of payment and tap again at your destination station as you leave.

At RapidRide stations you have the option to tap on the ORCA reader at the station or on the bus as you enter.

How do I activate my U-PASS powered by ORCA?

Your new U-PASS will need to be activated after you purchase it, or after your register for classes. Activation takes three easy steps:

  • 1. Purchase - To participate in the U-PASS program, you first purchase U-PASS membership at the campus where your primary work or academic major is based.
  • 2. Wait - You must wait 24 to 48 hours after purchase before you can use your U-PASS on transit. U-PASS activation for transit is uploaded onto the readers on buses when they are at the base (i.e. not on the road). Train station readers are updated daily.
  • 3. Tap within 60 days - To finalize the activation of your U-PASS for use on transit, you must use it for transit service within 60 days of purchase. Tapping your card on the ORCA reader updates your chip and finalizes activation of your U-PASS for transit. If you do not tap onto transit within 60 days, your U-PASS will not work for transit fare payment and you will need to request reactivation of your U-PASS transit benefit here.

U-PASS is a universal program for eligible students and the fee appears on the student tuition statement.

How can I purchase a U-PASS?

A quarterly or annual U-PASS can be purchased at Transportation Services. Your U-PASS will be activated 24-48 hours after purchase. Customers will be responsible for paying their own fare between purchase and activation on transit. If you have an annual U-PASS on payroll deduction you can still renew your U-PASS through the annual renewal process each spring.

U-PASS is a universal program for eligible students and the fee appears on the student tuition statement.

Why does it take 24 to 48 hours to activate the U-PASS?

The ORCA system updates twice a day with new pass purchases. U-PASS activation for transit is uploaded onto the readers on buses when they are at the base (i.e. not on the road) and the buses are on the road most of the day. Train station readers are updated daily.

What happens if I don’t tap my card within the 60 day activation period?

If you do not tap onto transit within 60 days of issuance, your U-PASS will not work for transit fare payment. You will need to request reactivation of your U-PASS transit benefit here.

I found someone’s Husky Card. Where should I send it?

Please mail it to: Husky Card Office, Odegaard Undergraduate Library, Ground Floor, Box 353085, Seattle, WA 98195-3085

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U-PASS, ORCA and Husky Card

What is ORCA?

ORCA stands for One Regional Card for All. It is the regional transit fare payment system.

What is the smart chip?

The smart chip is a radio frequency identification (RFID) chip located inside your Husky Card that stores the U-PASS transit benefit and interacts with the ORCA system. The smart chip is programmed to only work with the ORCA system.

Is the Husky Card different from the standard ORCA Card?

Yes. Your Husky Card is not a standard ORCA card. In order to provide the convenience of a single-card to all campus services, UW decided to include the smart chip inside your Husky ID Card instead of issuing standard ORCA cards. The transit portion of your U-PASS uses the ORCA system to process payment for transit, but does not provide access to the full range of ORCA program features.

To purchase a standard ORCA Card and take advantage of the E-purse, card registration, autoload or other ORCA program features, please go to http://www.orcacard.com.

Can I put a hole in my card so I can attach it to a lanyard?

No. Punching a hole in the card may damage the smart chip or antenna. The Husky Card Account & ID Center has merchandise available to allow for carrying your Husky Card on a lanyard without damaging it. For more information, click here.

The smart chip is like a small computer embedded inside your card. Do not bend, cut, squash, wash or otherwise damage your card.

Can I load a Washington State Ferries pass or PugetPass onto my Husky Card?

Yes, but we don’t recommend it.

If you choose to add a pass onto your Husky Card and your card is lost, stolen, or damaged, neither the UW nor the ORCA agencies will replace those products. If you want to receive the benefits associated with ORCA card registration and/or the ability to replace ORCA products you’ve added if your card is lost, stolen, defective or damaged, please contact ORCA to purchase a standard ORCA Card: http://www.orcacard.com.

Can I load money into my Husky Card Account and use it for transit fare?

No. The Husky Card Debit Account cannot be used for transit services.

Can I load funds onto my ORCA E-Purse to use on the bus, train or ferry?

The E-Purse is not available on Husky Cards. To purchase a standard ORCA Card for E-purse usage, please go to http://www.orcacard.com.

Can I register my new Husky Card with the ORCA System?

No. For security purposes and confidentiality of travel data, Husky Cards cannot be registered within the ORCA system. The University of Washington made the decision to block card registration to protect your data.

Can I load a PugetPass or Washington State Ferries pass onto my card after I graduate or leave UW?

The smart chip with your Husky Card may be permanently deactivated after you leave the UW. Any pass on the card will be lost when the chip is deactivated and will not be replaced by UW or the ORCA agencies. You can load passes onto your Husky Card at your own risk, but it is not recommended. To purchase a standard ORCA Card, please go to http://www.orcacard.com.

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Troubleshooting

My card is lost, stolen or damaged, where do I get a new one?

You must inform the Husky Card Office at once if you believe your Husky Card has been lost or stolen. The best way to report a lost or stolen Husky Card is through the Husky Card Online Office, where you can suspend activity on your Husky Card Account until the Husky Card is found or replaced. You may also contact the Husky Card Account & ID Center M-F 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. at 206-543-7222 or by email.

It is your responsibility to take care of your Husky Card. If your card is lost or damaged and you require a replacement, you will be charged a $20 replacement fee.

Your U-PASS will be transferred electronically when your new Husky Card is printed and will be available for use 24 to 48 hours after card replacement.

If my Husky Card is lost, stolen or damaged, how will I replace my U-PASS?

Your U-PASS will be transferred electronically from your old Husky Card to your new Husky Card. Your U-PASS will not be available for use until 24 to 48 hours after the issuance of the replacement card.

Who do I contact if my new U-PASS powered by ORCA does not work on the bus/train?

Contact Transportation Services if your U-PASS is not working on the bus or train. You can email Transportation Services or call 206-221-3701.

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Technology and data security

Can I receive a Husky Card without a smart chip or can my smart chip be disabled if I am not a U-PASS participant?

No. The University endorses the use of RFID smart chips on campus and inclusion of RFID smart chips within the Husky Card. The University is unable to disable the smart chip or issue Husky Cards without the smart chip.

What personal information is stored on the smart chip?

No personal information or UW data is stored on the smart chip. Data on the smart chip indicates if you have an active U-PASS powered by ORCA or not, and to process transit transactions.

Can someone else easily read the smart chip in my card?

The smart chip is a passive, short-range RFID chip that can only be read at short distances. For more information about what can be read from the chip, click here to view the ORCA Privacy Statement.

Where is my travel data stored?

Travel data is stored in the ORCA databases controlled by the transit agencies. This data is used for billing purposes and does not include personally identifiable information. Information about your most recent transit trips is also included on the smart chip in order to support transfer functions and fare apportionment amongst participating transit agencies. For more information, click here to view the ORCA Privacy Statement.

Will UW be tracking where I use my U-PASS?

No. Transportation Services will be the only office with information on who has a valid U-PASS and will keep this information private in accordance with the UW privacy policy, UW Electronic Information Privacy Policy on Personally Identifiable Information. Transportation Services does not have access to your personally identifiable travel data.

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Canceling a U-PASS membership

Students: Will my U-PASS be deactivated if I withdraw from the UW?

Yes. Your U-PASS will be deactivated and you may be eligible for a U-PASS fee credit on your student account when you withdraw. For most students who are part of U-PASS:

  • If you withdraw between the 1st and 7th day of the quarter, you will receive a 100 percent U-PASS fee credit on your student account.
  • If you withdraw between the 8th and 30th day of the quarter, you will receive a 50 percent U-PASS fee credit on your student account. You will be responsible for paying the outstanding fee.
  • If you withdraw on or after the 31st day of the quarter, you will not receive any U-PASS fee credit. You will be responsible for paying the outstanding fee.

Employees: How can I return my U-PASS?

If you leave UW employment, your U-PASS will be turned off after two missed payroll deductions. You will be fiscally responsible for the cost of your U-PASS until it is deactivated.

If you no longer want your U-PASS, you may cancel it at any time. Visit the Transportation Services office in person to sign a stop payroll slip or email ucommute@uw.edu to request cancellation. The email must include your name and employee ID number. You are responsible for the cost of the annual U-PASS if you fail to cancel it. Once you deactivate your U-PASS, you can reactivate it at any time, but will need to visit Transportation Services to do so.

Employees: Will my U-PASS be deactivated if I miss a payroll deduction?

If you pay your U-PASS fees through payroll deduction and have insufficient funds to pay that fee for two consecutive payroll deductions, your U-PASS will be deactivated. You will need to bring your account out of arrears before your U-PASS can be reactivated.

Faculty and staff on nine month contract can keep their U-PASS active during the summer quarter.

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Student Universal U-PASS program

What is universal student U-PASS?

Universal student U-PASS refers to a comprehensive transportation benefit program that all eligible UW Seattle students pay for and benefit from. All students who pay the Services and Activities Fee (SAF) will be U-PASS members and will be required to pay the U-PASS fee.

How do I know whether I am in the universal U-PASS population or not?

Students who pay the Services & Activities Fee (SAF) will be U-PASS members and will be required to pay the U-PASS fee.

What is the basis for this fee?

The establishment of this fee was approved by a majority vote of the student senates in ASUW Resolution R-17-2 and GPSS Resolution 10.27-11. Collection of this new fee is pursuant to RCW 28B.15.610. RCW 28B.15.610 is the authorizing statute used by Washington State University and Western Washington University students to authorize a student fee for their transit pass programs.

I drive alone to campus every day/walk to campus/bicycle to campus, what benefit do I receive from the U-PASS program?

In addition to the option to ride transit on any day at any time, U-PASS members are eligible for discounts and special offers from transportation-related merchants. U-PASS funds also pay for the NightRide shuttle, providing a safe ride home for walkers and cyclists who find themselves on campus after dark. Recognizing that sometimes people just need a ride, U-PASS members also enjoy discounted membership on Zipcar and Pronto! Cycle Share memberships, as well as discounted carpool parking on campus.

I do not ride the bus or use any of the features of the U-PASS program, so how can the university charge me a fee for something I will not use?

The U-PASS fee is similar to other compulsory fees attached to enrollment. Tuition components include the Student Technology Fee for improvement of technology on campus and the IMA bond fee that covers the expansion of the Intramural Activities building. Many students may not use the computers on campus or use the IMA — some may not even take classes on campus. These fees may not benefit those students individually but they benefit the university community and the student body as a whole.

I am not eligible for universal U-PASS program benefits – can I still buy a U-PASS?

Yes. You can buy a U-PASS through Transportation Services, or if you are a PCE student, you may do so through PCE. You will pay a $150 quarterly fee for the U-PASS, as the $80 quarterly fee ($84 beginning Fall 2016) is established for the Universal U-PASS program only.

I am a student during the academic year but am not registered for classes during the summer. Can I buy a summer U-PASS?

You are not eligible to purchase a student U-PASS if you are not registered for classes during summer quarter. However, if you are working as a temporary, hourly UW employee on campus, you may instead be eligible for a TEMP Pass.

I am a UW employee who is also a student paying the SAF and included within the universal U-PASS population. What should I do?

If you are included within the universal U-PASS population, contact Transportation Services to cancel your employee U-PASS. Note that the universal U-PASS will not work on employee Husky ID cards. You will need to visit the Husky Card Office to obtain a student Husky Card to use your universal U-PASS.

The quarterly cost of the Universal student U-PASS is $80 ($84 beginning Fall 2016) vs. $150 per quarter for staff and faculty. The benefits under Universal U-PASS differ from the faculty staff U-PASS in several ways, including the addition of the emergency ride home available through the faculty/staff U-PASS.

I am a UW PCE student included within universal U-PASS program. Why am I getting two bills, one for tuition and another for the U-PASS fee?

Students taking courses through the University of Washington Professional and Continuing Education (UW PCE) will receive two bills—one from UW PCE for tuition and other fees, and another from Student Fiscal Services for the U-PASS fee. UW Transportation Services is exploring opportunities to streamline this process in the long term and we appreciate your understanding and flexibility in the short term.

My employer will pay for my tuition, including other fees, but will not pay for the U-PASS fee.

The U-PASS fee is one of many mandatory fees associated with tuition for UW students. In addition to the U-PASS, students pay Building, Operating, Services and Activities, Technology and IMA Building fees. Because these fees are mandatory, they are automatically programmed onto to the tuition statement, and financial aid or scholarships should apply to the U-PASS fee just like the other fees. If your employer provides you with tuition funds, and will not cover the U-PASS fee, you can present them with this letter here explaining the mandatory nature of the fee.

I’m a Husky Promise student. Is the U-PASS fee covered by Husky Promise?

Yes, for eligible Husky Promise students, grant aid will be sufficient to pay for tuition and standard mandatory fees, including U-PASS.

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