Catching up

After 21 post-free days–the longest hiatus I’ve taken from this blog in the three (plus) years I’ve been writing it–I return (project: complete, Chicklet: healthy and enjoying her bus rides more than ever), determined to reestablish a more regular posting schedule in May.

I’ve had about a zillion bus adventures since I last checked in–far too many to write about. The good news is, there will be many zillions more.

On to the transit news of note:

I trust you all noticed that Metro’s website has new and improved home page. It’s the beginning of a long-overdue update/upgrade to make the site more relevant, responsive, and usable. Some highlights: Trip Planner entry fields are now on the home page (not three clicks away); the navigation is simpler; and there are “quick” links to important stuff like Orca information and Tracker. It ain’t perfect (yet), but it’s a good start.

The Orca payment system is live. As it happens, my annual pass expired on May 1st, so I’m now using an Orca card. This month, I’m trying the “e-purse” only, which means that I didn’t purchase a pass; the money I loaded onto the card is deducted as I ride. Since I’m not commuting five days a week anymore, and, since, with Orca, paying cash is as convenient as paying with a pass (more on that later), I figured it was worth it to find out how much money a pass actually saves me.

I had a few glitches at first–it took a couple of days for the money I added online to register in the system, and a couple more days for transfers to work correctly–but everything seems to working fine now.

What I love:

• You don’t have to buy a pass to have the convenience of a pass. If you’re an infrequent rider, you can add money to your e-purse and use your card when you need it. No more worrying about having correct change or keeping track of transfers.
• If you do buy a pass, you can add extra money to your e-purse for trips that exceed the pass’s value. Beautiful!

What I don’t love:

• Annual passes are no longer an option. I have no idea why.
• Orca’s web interface for loading money and buying passes–especially for people with new cards–is confusing. It’s not clear up front how to buy a pass, and it’s also not clear if you can use the money you load into your e-purse to purchase a pass (you can’t).

On the whole, though, I’m loving the change.

Anyone else have thoughts about Orca–or, for that matter, Metro’s new home page?

* This includes, believe it or not, the period after my mother’s death and the period after Chicklet’s birth.