February 24, 2009

Utah showcases electronic fare system at industry event



The Utah Transit Authority is showcasing its new electronic fare collection system this week at an event held in Salt Lake City by the Smart Card Alliance. The new electronic payment system for the transit agency is the first full-system rollout of a transit payment system based on the open payment network.

UTA’s new EFC system accepts major contactless credit and debit cards such as Visa payWave, MasterCard PayPass and American Express expresspay for a single adult cash fare on more than 600 buses and a fleet of light rail and commuter rail trains.

Payment authorization is initiated when a customer taps a contactless credit or debit card to an electronic reader on a train platform or bus. Riders are also asked to tap off when exiting in order to complete their trip and get an electronic transfer. The rider is then able to tap onto a new bus or train without being charged for a new trip. The final charge is processed through a back office system that matches up individual card “taps” within the two hour transfer window to create a complete trip and calculate the final charge. Customers may also pay for more than one rider by tapping on and tapping off multiple times, once for each rider.

In addition to providing a new method of payment for customers, the “tap on/tap off” approach provides UTA with valuable data that the transit agency will use to adjust services to better reflect the actual travel patterns of its riders.

“The new EFC system is an investment in the future that will pay big dividends for our riders,” said John Inglish, UTA general manager. “The EFC system will help UTA better determine ridership patterns and be more responsive when planning service.”

The system, which officially launched in January, is used daily by thousands of UTA riders. In addition to accepting credit and debit card payments, the new EFC system is also being used to validate UTA-issued passes carried by corporate and educational customers as well.

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