Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Regional Fare Collection Project Moves Ahead

A new region-wide electronic fare management system will soon streamline the transit ticket-buying process for the whole Tampa Bay region. Riders will buy a card in one county and use it to catch a bus in any of the other seven counties. The solution will not only make it easier for patrons to manage their fares, but it will also speed up boarding times and cut back on time spent counting coins and bills coming out of bus fare boxes.

With this long-overdue upgrade fare collection will be simpler, easier for patrons, and will also work seamlessly to provide one common fare media for all public transit passengers throughout the region. Transit agencies in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Citrus, Hernando, Manatee, Pasco, Polk, and Sarasota counties - which make up the Regional Working Group, have been partnering for nearly four years, to create this unified fare collection system to improve regional connectivity.

The region-wide fare collection system solution, which allows passengers to purchase fares for travel throughout the entire region on any bus, is one step closer to deployment.

For months a partnership coalition of various agencies has cooperated and collaborated to implement forward-looking smart technologies that benefit transit customers and the greater Tampa Bay region. "The Regional Working Group is excited to bring this innovative system to our riders," said Jeff Seward, HART CFO. "It will move our region into the future of transit fare collection and allow our riders an unparalleled, flexible rider experience. The project will provide great value to our region, improve on time performance, and reduce costs."

On March 3, the multi-agency Regional Working Group will meet with the technology vendor, INIT Innovations in Transportation, to officially kickoff the final phase of the innovative project. On that day teams and leaders, along with the vendor, will confirm the steps and details and share status reports to set things in motion for the groundbreaking project. The outcome of this effort will provide riders with technology that lets them purchase fares using a convenient mobile device app or reloadable, account based fare card. "INIT is excited to partner with the RWG to deliver a modern fare system that will  provide passengers with better fare options and offer them greater mobility throughout the Tampa bay region", Roland Staib, CEO, INIT Innovations in Transportation, Inc., Chesapeake, VA.Within 6 to 8 months of the project kicking off riders will be able to use the mobile app across the Tampa Bay area by showing their purchased fare via the phone to the driver. By the end of the project fares will be validated using the new on-board validators that are to be installed.

The new $12 million system will provide seamless and common fare media for passengers throughout the Tampa Bay region and will replace the outdated and less efficient fare collection systems in the area - including the system used by HART for more than 25 years. "With our strong base of out-of-town customers brought in by our nationally acclaimed tourism, the ability to pay fares instantly and mobility via smart phones will be a real game-changer," said Brad Miller, CEO of the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority. "Soon your vacation will begin the moment you land at the airport by simply downloading the app, hopping aboard, and the next thing you see will be the white sands of Clearwater Beach."