UTA to offer new reusable fare card

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SALT LAKE CITY --  The Utah Transit Authority is planning changes to the way some of their patrons pay, and the new method employs technology to do away with nickels, dimes and dollars.

UTA officials said passengers can currently pay in a variety of ways, and they said about 25 percent of their riders still pay for single fares one at a time with cash and coins—but that could change as soon as next month.

Remi Baron, UTA, said they have a new card for their cash-only customers.

“We developed this new fare pay card to really help the consumers that use cash right now in the fare box, so for $3 they can activate this card, and then they can load anywhere from $5 to $500 on it, and they could just use it on our tap on, tap off machines.”

Officials said the new card could make boarding the bus, TRAX or FrontRunner trains faster and easier. Officials plan to sell the card at hundreds of retail outlets across the Wasatch Front, like Rite Aid and Walgreens.

“It's almost like a gift card from a store where you load some money on it, and it never expires, and once it’s put on the card it's good for as long as you have the card,” Baron said.

Under the current setup, rail riders have to purchase tickets at kiosks before boarding, but the new fare card will streamline that process by creating one card for all services.

“They can take that card straight from a store and go right to a TRAX station or a FrontRunner station or a bus and get on,” Baron said.

Suhyen Perez is one UTA rider excited about the change.

“I think it’s a good idea for people who ride the bus every day,” Perez said.

Baron said the new system will help people who don’t carry cash as well as parents who need to purchase fares for their children. Baron said if the card is stolen, it can be canceled just like credit card can be.

“We're going to roll this out in the fall, probably within a month we'll have these cards ready for people to use,” Baron said.

UTA officials said another benefit of the card is the possibility the technology will allow them to someday implement a fare system that’s based on distance of the ride rather than a flat fee. They also said the technology will enable them to track traffic and patterns more effectively, which can lead to better routes.