Orca Pay


An undergraduate capstone team was recruited from the Human Centered Design Engineering department to help transit agencies better understand how a mobile ticket app like the Transit GO Ticket could be improved to appeal to infrequent riders like event attendees. After conducting a heuristic evaluation of the UX/UI design, the team discovered many of their target users still have a strong preference for cash payment over mobile ticketing.


“How can we help to reduce cash fare payments and increase a stagnant 60% ORCA adoption rate?”
Survey data and field research led the team to propose a design for the Next Gen Orca App including a payment platform concept. With this app, transit riders can instantaneously update balance, see past trips, and manage multiple accounts.


The team’s interviews suggest that Transit GO Ticket has poor adoption and significant UX problems, which may be expensive and time-consuming to update. With next gen ORCA right around the corner, King County metro has communicated their intent to discontinue support of the app by 2022. This research supports King County Metro’s theory that next gen ORCA will make mobile ticketing obsolete. The focus on a fare payment system would significantly aid in the development of a mobile component for the next generation of ORCA.

By shifting attention to next gen ORCA, the team was asked to expand their user group beyond infrequent riders and event attendees. This is because the next gen ORCA system will affect all current and new ORCA users, with current users most likely to adopt the system earlier. Applications that work with the next gen ORCA system must be optimized to all users of the system (including event attendees).


“ORCApay” is the proposed payment and account management application for the next gen ORCA system. The application allows the user to link, manage, and purchase ORCA accounts, manage and reload their various accounts, view their travel history, and customize their profile, along with leading the user through the onboarding process. Each of these functions is described in more detail below. The application is intentionally simple, having a single main page, which allows users to reach the desired function in as few clicks as possible. This simplicity also leaves room for the application to grow as the ORCA system evolves further.



The ORCAPay design prototype won 1st place in the HCDE People’s Choice Awards, and the team’s research and recommendations were shared with project sponsors. The ORCApay team was also invited to deliver a presentation to the UX/UI design firm responsible for designing the Next Gen ORCA website and mobile app.


This undergraduate capstone team was led by Prof. Mark Zachry. This project received mentorship from King County Metro and Sound Transit.

Academic Department

Faculty Leadership

Mark Zachry

Human Centered Design & Engineering
Research Areas
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Social computing
  • Technology for social change
  • Communicative practices of organizations
  • Interdisciplinary studies


  • Sierramatice Karras
  • Zoe Escalona
  • Zachary Thomas
  • Ryan Zuzelski