|Smartcards such at the Orca card allow Tap N' Go verification!|
Imagine grabbing a HART or PSTA bus and paying with the same fare media that you just used to ride MCAT and Polk Transit. Later, you head to Pasco County and use the same fare media to ride the bus there. Moving to such a system is in the works in the Tampa Bay area.
HART is leading the push to secure important federal and state funds for the completion of a long-awaited regional fare collection system upgrade that will benefit a regional connectivity in the Tampa Bay region.
HART has applied for two separate grants that would provide more than $20 million to fund the Regional Revenue Collection and Inter-Jurisdictional Mobility Project.
The initiative, led by HART, represents a collaborative partnership between Citrus, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, and Sarasota counties. Once it is finalized, patrons will be able to travel across the entire multi-county Tampa Bay region using one single ticket in the form of a smart card that can also be instantly downloaded wirelessly to carry on mobile devices.
The Regional Working Group has spent more than two years planning and strategizing to ensure a smooth and timely transition to the high-tech system. The upgrade will allow transit passengers, including those with disabilities and the elderly, easy access to transportation throughout a multi-county region.
"This is a transformational moment for regional cooperation in the Tampa Bay area," said HART Chief Financial Officer Jeff Seward. "The benefits of a more connected fare collection system would be evident from the start from a regional standpoint, and would also help others upgrade their systems so that we all can be compatible. Eventually the customer that's out there would be able to use a smart card technology that would work seamlessly across all systems."
Customers will be able to check their smartcard balances at any time and buy or reload the cards at multiple, convenient card outlets or even online. Because the cards can be scanned instantly on transit vehicles with a digital fare reading device on board, the process of boarding will be accelerated for increased efficiency with a more accurate system that saves HART and its customer's time and effort.
Although $2,367,907 million of funding has been received to-date from a combination of State and TBARTA grants, there remains a shortfall of $10,232,093 based on full smartcard technology implementation at an estimated cost of $12,600,000 for hardware, infrastructure, and integration