Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Technology to improve Port Authority’s rider experience with the fare-system

I do not know about other transit riders, but I can barely wait until I will be able to use the new ConnectCard system to pay for my fares.  This is why I decided to make sure that I will board the same bus as my friend F.H who is one of the 300 University of Pittsburg employees and students asked to test the system.
Like all Pitt staff and students, my friend’s fare is covered by her employer and she can use her University issued ID in lieu of a bus pass. With the new system in place, instead of presenting her ID to the bus driver she is swiping it over the orange magnetic reader positioned on the top of the fare box. The system validates her ID instantly, bypasses the current procedure by which the driver has to check the pass to validate it manually and streamlines the process.
Another advantage of the new system is a significant reduction of fraud.  Currently there are riders who “share” one transit pass by transferring it with one quick move to the next rider. With the new system this “trick” won’t work any longer.  As I was trying to take a picture of my friend as she was swiping her card,   I missed the first shot so with the driver’s concurrence she swiped it again. As we were expecting, the second time she tried her ID was no longer validated.

Bus rider using the new farebox system

L.H., another friend and University of Pittsburgh employee who is participating in the system’s first test group,  told me that the new system worked perfectly until today. We believe that she is one of the 25 test participants who will have their IDs deactivated randomly during the four week test period in order to make sure that previous students who are no longer enrolled with the University as well as former staff members will not take advantage of the system by using their expired IDs long after they stopped being valid. 
L.H. also noted that while the new system will make streamline the fare paying process for those riders who purchase tickets or passes, when it comes to paying the fare in cash the system is slower. This implies that in order to make the new system successful the Port Authority will have to develop a comprehensive system of distribution for ConnectCards  that includes on-line , brick-and –mortar and why not, mobile options.
To read more about the new ConnectCard fare system check our April updates. And a short note on the first testing phase here.

No comments:

Post a Comment