Utah Transit Authority is taking steps toward cashless bus and train fares with the launch of its new reloadable electronic fare card: FAREPAY. The card will enable commuters to simply purchase a fare card, load it with cash and use it to “tap” on and off any bus or train on the system, including the Sugar House streetcar, expected to open in December.
FAREPAY cards will be available online, at UTA customer service centers, in addition to select retailers. Riders can buy the card for a one-time fee of $3, chose to load and reload in amounts up to $500, and then as they board and leave transit have their fare automatically deducted.
UTA said that about 25% of its riders now pay with cash and could benefit from such cards. They won’t have to have exact change every time they get on the bus or train. They also won’t have to spend as much time at ticket vending machines to buy train or bus rapid-transit tickets.
The system also aims to aid UTA with its scheduling of routes. Tapping on and off allows the UTA to track trips of all riders, and the new fare cards will allow it to boost such data collection from more people.
With the new program, cardholders will be able to check their account balance online. They can also register to have fare automatically reloaded – transferred from a connected credit card – when their FAREPAY reaches a specified balance.
The cards will allow free transfers within the currently allowed two hours from when they first board a bus or train. The transit is also working to develop a way for cards to recognize discounts for seniors or the disabled.