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Metro Transit hopes for faster boardings with new fare boxes

August 29, 2018

New fare boxes designed to speed up the boarding process are appearing on Metro Transit buses and may someday allow riders to pay with a credit card.

The first of the new fare boxes, installed on eight buses earlier this month, allow riders with a transfer ticket to simply swipe and ride. The feature will allow riders to spend less time at the farebox and streamline the boarding process, said spokesman John Komarek.

With the current fare boxes, which date to 1992, riders insert their transfer ticket into a slot. The machine reads the transfer, then spits it back out, which can be time consuming. With the new boxes, riders with transfers will be able get on just as fast as riders who swipe their GoTo or Metropass cards.

There is no waiting for the ticket to go in and come back out, Komarek said. When you add minutes and seconds up, it compounds as you go along through the day.

Metro Transit riders use about 54,600 transfer tickets a day.

The new fare boxes also eliminate the possibility of a paper jam. While rare, they can delay boardings and, in the worst case, cause a bus to be taken out of service, Komarek said.

Buses are stopped to board passengers about one-third of the time they are in service. The hope is the new technology will make for faster boardings.

The plan, Komarek said, is eventually to incorporate card readers into the fare boxes. For now, they will remain a separate unit. Down the road, the hope is to include the ability for riders to pay fares with a credit or debit card.

We want to make it as convenient as possible, Komarek said.

Old fare boxes will be swapped out for new ones as time and funding allows, Komarek said. That may take several years since Metro Transit has 909 buses in its fleet and each farebox costs about $15,000.

Tim Harlow 612-673-7768

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