Read background provided by Sound Transit staff in the motion to be considered on Thursday, Sept. 6.

Sound Transit and its regional partners are poised to invest more than $100 million into the next-generation ORCA program, with the goal of improving the user experience and increasing payment options.

The current ORCA system is nearing the end of its life, and updating the system has been a regional effort since 2015. Sound Transit has been in charge of managing the Regional Fare Coordination System since entering an interlocal cooperation agreement in 2003 with transit agencies in King, Kitsap, Snohomish and Pierce counties, Everett, and the Washington State Ferries.

The Sound Transit Board’s Operations and Administration Committee will decide on approving a four-year, $94.2 million contract with systems integration company INIT Innovations in Transportation to create and operate the next ORCA fare collection system during a meeting 1-3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, in the Ruth Fisher Boardroom of Union Station, 401 S. Jackson St. The ORCA Joint Board is scheduled to approve the contract on Monday, Sept. 10, followed by full board approval on Sept. 27.

King County tapped INIT in 2007 to install smart bus technology in its fixed-route Metro vehicles and create a new communications center system.

The integration company was determined by Sound Transit to have provided the best proposal out of four firms that applied for the contract.

While Sound Transit is executing the contract with INIT, the transit agency expects its regional partners to provide $62.28 million in future reimbursements, with King County Metro representing 57.8 percent. INIT is the largest, but not the only contractor that will be brought in to create the next-generation ORCA system, and has the option for 11 one-year contract renewals.