City transit buses will be rolling out a new $895,000 electronic fare collection system in late 2013.
An automated system will be installed on 51 buses and will provide accurate fare data and a precise tally of riders boarding the buses.
City transit manager Kevin Joll said the existing system is old, dilapidated and problematic to replace parts. The department has purchased used units from other transit systems in the past but that has not proven sustainable.
“The maintenance costs will be less right up front,” said Joll. “There’s a win right there. There’s also the chance we’ll collect more fares because of the accuracy.”
Ongoing support costs are estimated at $20,000 annually.
Riders will still be able to drop coins in the box but will also have the option of using a registered pre-paid fare card or a proximity card that is swiped at the fare box.
A tone will sound if the fare is short. Joll said if riders lose their cards, they will be able to de-process the chip at one of the shops where the cards are sold.
Drivers will no longer have to fight darkness to count the handfuls of pennies dropped in the box to determine fare accuracy.
“We really wanted to have better tracking on fares and accurate information on ridership and you can get that on an automated fare box,” said Joll.
City council approved the new project at its capital budget meeting on Tuesday. The buses are expected to be outfitted by the fall of 2013.