Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation to move from bus passes to smart cards
Author: Mary Pickels
Date: December 15, 2012
Early next year, Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation passengers will be able to trade in their bus passes for smart cards.
FACT is transitioning into the ConnectCard system, director Lori Groover-Smith said. "Equipment is being installed and we are undergoing training."
A pilot program, including FACT employees and some area employers, will begin in January, she added. "Then we will slowly get everyone switched over to that system."
Port Authority of Allegheny County introduced the ConnectCard system earlier this year.
Eventually, riders should be able to use the cards throughout the region with partnering transit agencies, Groover-Smith said.
Passengers will soon be able to purchase bus passes with debit and credit cards. Riders can purchase monthly passes or load value passes, where they can choose stored amounts ranging from $5 to $200.
The ConnectCard will eliminate riders' need to carry cash or exact change, Groover-Smith said, since bus drivers are unable to make change for passengers.
"The benefit for us is that it will help cut down on fraud," she said.
The plastic, reloadable cards cannot be duplicated.
"It looks just like a credit card," Groover-Smith said.
Riders will tap their cards on onboard validators to register their trip.
The cards will help the transit agency compile ridership data - from how many riders are transported per run to the busiest routes.
"If we know that after 8 p.m. there is minimal ridership, that will help with scheduling," Groover-Smith said. "We purchased new equipment. Funding primarily came from a Port Authority federal grant for the regional project."
Passengers will be able to purchase the cards at a sales outlet terminal at the main Dunbar Township site and at vending machines at the transfer center off Matthew Drive in South Union.
The agency logs about 10,000 riders per month, according to its website.
Groover-Smith said the agency sells 150 to 200 passes per month, primarily to passengers who are commuting to work.