March 19, 2013

TriMet launches INIT onboard fare collection

TriMet riders on lines 17 and 70 are noticing a difference when they purchase fares on the bus. Instead of being handed a hole-punched slip by the bus operator after putting cash or a ticket into the fare box, a more durable and legible ticket is popping out of a new onboard ticket printer. The bus tickets match those of MAX and WES, taking the confusion out of transferring. They have a foil security strip and are good for two hours.

“For years, most bus transfers have not matched those on the rail systems, but these new printers will ensure that bus riders will get a full two-hour ticket,” said TriMet Director of Revenue Operations Chris Tucker.

Unlike the ticket vending machines found on MAX and WES platforms, these printers are located inside the buses and are about the size of a toaster. They are produced by INIT, a leader in Intelligent Transportation Systems and fare collection systems.

Riders put the necessary fare into the fare box for either a two-hour ticket or a day pass, just as they usually do. Instead of tearing off a newsprint transfer receipt with the ticket type and day code punched out, the bus operator presses a button on the console for the corresponding fare. The ticket prints and pops up out of a slot on the top of the machine. The rider takes the ticket and proceeds with boarding. This system will be easier for operators and fare enforcers, and may speed up the boarding process for riders.

The ticket printers will be tested on the lines 17 and 70 for several weeks so TriMet staff can monitor the use and make any adjustments necessary. After that, the printers will go into use on all buses by July 1.

When TriMet eliminated zones and established its base two-hour ticket, the agency began exploring options to ensure bus tickets would be valid for the full two hours. The current tear-off transfers were not very precise in showing the valid time of the transfer. The cost of implementing the ticket printers is $1.5 million.

Separate from the ticket printers, TriMet will be piloting a new mobile ticket system in the coming months that was created by local software company GlobeSherpa. The TransitSherpa app will allow riders to buy and use tickets on their smartphones to ride buses, the MAX and WES. A beta test of the mobile ticketing app will launch by the end of April with a full systemwide launch expected sometime this summer.

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