Sunday, March 25, 2012

New Toys Are a'Comin...

I mentioned Phil Washington in my last post and that reminded me...

He met with Drivers over the last couple of months and gave us information about a new system that is coming out as we speak.
We've also recently received more training as the system is going into testing mode here in Denver.
It's been testing in Boulder this last month so many of you may have already seen it - or even here in Denver, you may have already seen it popping up (the testing starts in Denver in April) on your buses.

It's the new "
Smart Card" program.

Here's what I've heard and what I know:

Many of you have noticed that we've (RTD) done away with the Token this year.
The idea of this new system is to eliminate as much "media" and cash from use as possible.

I hear that Denver/RTD has more "media" than any other Transit system in the Nation.
For example, we have a myriad of schools and colleges here along the Front Range.
Each school has it's own ID and "sticker" with new colours for each semester and expiry date.
And it is very rare that more than one school/college/university has the same expiry date as another, so Drivers have to learn each date, each colour and each identification - whether student or faculty.

Then there are the Eco Passes.
While most are the green/blue passes, not all are.
And not all Eco Passes are all services included - some don't include the DIA routes, others don't cover regional or express routes.

We have monthly passes, and some are for AB, BC & CD Zones.
And each monthly is by degree of service, whether local, express or regional and some are "discount" - requiring further proof of eligibility of discount.

And on and on and on it goes, you can see that we have a TON of "media" and Drivers old & new find it tough to keep track of them all.

This new "Smart Card" has an RF chip inside.
Programmed for the specific customer, whether ECO, Student, Monthly, disabled or "gift card" - it's all ONE CARD, programmed specifically for the one customer - with photos included (when required) that will be read by a computer/scanner.

You wave your card across the scanner and your card is "charged" for the ride.
No need for a transfer, your card is remembered by the system along your route of travel for a specific period of time.
As you board your next bus within a set time period and scan the card, the system will remember you and not charge you.
Until you go back in the direction from which you came or you exceed the time / grace period - which to the system, tells it that you are in a new zone or that you're returning to your origination.

And there's no chance for the Driver to misread or mis-punch your transfers, you won't need those anymore.
There are three lights on the scanner - red, yellow and green.
Once you've paid, the light flashes green.
If you owe a full or partial fare, say you have a local monthly pass loaded onto your card and you're going to DIA or you're boarding an Express - the yellow light will light on the scanner, requiring you to pay the balance of the fare.
If it flashed red, run in shame and embarrassment - hide your face from the cameras and other passengers!

LOL - no, I'm just kidding.
There's a number you can call (the Drivers can't help and can only ask that you pay the full fare) to correct any issues.

It may hurt a bit here and there in the interim as we switch over to this new system but once it's fully up and running, the end game/goal is to be at least 90% cashless and pain free.
And I hear that end goal/game should be realized completely by the end of next year.

Ask your Driver about the new system coming shortly.
We all know about it by now and we all have received training on how to operate it during the testing phase so we can give you more details.

As Always, "Welcome aboard, Toss your cash and get a Smart Card, Find your seats - Let's Roll!"

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