Delivering New Ways to Pay
In the near future, customers will have more choices for purchasing DART passes.
Since 2012, the agency has kept a watchful eye on the payment systems landscape, studying emerging trends that are reshaping payment processes, and carefully analyzing their implications.
"DART wants to eventually get out of the business of handling cash at the bus farebox. Doing so should not only reduce administrative and operational costs, but also offer customers greater convenience by providing them a safer and better way to transact with us," Chief Financial Officer David Leininger said.
For people in low- and moderate-income households who make up the unbanked or underbanked population, cash is king. Unfortunately, their reliance on cash means they typically pay more for services, including public transportation.
In spring 2017, DART plans to introduce a reloadable prepaid transit card that rewards frequent users. By summer 2017, the agency expects to roll out a more robust mobile ticketing application, referred to as GoPass 2.0.
Additionally, the agency is working on enhanced technology that can accept contactless payments from smartphone apps such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay. Contactless systems allow consumers simply to wave a card or device over a reader at the point of sale.
"We are not a bank and we are not a social service agency, but we do have a responsibility to ensure we are making public transit accessible for everyone in our community," Leininger said.
Reloadable Stored-Value Transit Card
In its simplest form, the reloadable prepaid card would allow customers to put money on an account managed by DART. Because bus operators cannot make change for customers who pay cash upon boarding, this card ensures they never overpay because their exact fare is debited.
Unlike with using cash, customers who use a prepaid transit card can earn the best fare, both daily and monthly, through actual use.
"We are simply leveling the playing field," Leininger said. "The unbanked and underbanked are currently at an economic disadvantage, and with a prepaid card we are able to reward those who rely on our system the most."
GoPass, the agency's free mobile ticketing and trip planning tool, has appealed to a diverse and vast audience. In its current form, GoPass makes purchasing tickets easy, but Leininger said the app could be more powerful.
The next version - GoPass 2.0 - will enable customers to purchase tickets and transfer them to another person by logging onto their account from a personal computer.
Users will be able to view their account history within the app. The new version allows for more seamless integration with companies like Uber, Lyft and Zipcar. DART also gains the ability with GoPass 2.0 to reward customers with promotions for frequent use.
Customers who are eligible for discounted fare programs - such as paratransit riders, college students and others - will be able to enter their unique authorization number and access fare products.
Contactless Payment Systems
Consumers today want the ability to pay for purchases quickly, easily and securely. DART has selected Vix Technology, a global leader in smart ticketing and payment technology solutions, to implement a new, state-of-the-art fare collection system and offer customers more contemporary payment options.
The agency plans to introduce new electronic validators on buses and at rail platforms. The devices are able to read bank-issued contactless cards, mobile wallets and reloadable transit cards. Customers can expect to find the readers prominently placed at bus and rail stations, which should help reduce fare evasion. Fare enforcement officers will be equipped with hand-held devices to verify that customers did swipe before boarding.
By creating a comprehensive fare payment system, DART wants to make it easy for customers to pay for their transit pass using the tool that is most convenient for them.
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