Beginning in August, N.C.’s Piedmont Authority for Regional Transportation (PART) will be offering two new digital payment methods system-wide in the form of TouchPass Mobile and smart card ticketing. This electronic fare technology will allow passengers to conveniently purchase passes online or through the app, pay fares easily with a scan or a tap, and ultimately speed up the boarding process.
PART plans to transition all passengers to TouchPass by the end of September 2019 and will stop selling magstripe paper passes on August 5.
With the new TouchPass system, passengers can create a TouchPass account where they can buy and keep track of bus passes, load stored value, and monitor activity such as transfers. They can then access these pre-loaded accounts to ride PART buses by either downloading the TouchPass app on their smartphone, or by linking their account with a physical reloadable smart card that can be purchased online or at the Coble Transportation Center ticket window. The account-based system also ensures that passengers passes and stored value are safe if they misplace their smart card. As long as they’ve fully registered their TouchPass account they can transfer the money from one card to another.
The TouchPass app and smart card are designed to shorten and simplify the boarding process by allowing passengers to simply tap their Smartcard or scan the QR code on the mobile app to board. Although PART buses will continue to accept cash as a fare payment, the agency has already seen positive results from the system and is encouraging riders to try it for themselves.
In addition to simplified boarding, the new system features several other advantages including automatic transfers that can be stored in a passenger’s account, eliminating the need to get a paper transfer from bus drivers. Online purchases of passes and stored value can also be made using the app or online through the TouchPass system.
Of all the enhanced features this system boasts, likely the most significant is the PART Rewards program that is available to passengers who utilize the stored value feature in the TouchPass system. The system automatically keeps track of trips and payments and will put a cap on a passenger’s account, saving them money. Once a passenger spends $5 per day or $80 per month, they will not have to pay for additional trips the rest of the day or month.