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CAT Plans to Update Bus Fare Payment System - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

CAT Plans to Update Bus Fare Payment System

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va (WVIR) -

Charlottesville Area Transit (CAT) is trying to make it easier for you to ride the bus. It's asking for bids from two companies to install electronic payment systems.

Most of the fare machines currently on Charlottesville buses are around 15 years old. The proposed change would update the technology, but it doesn't come cheap; CAT estimates the project to cost around half a million dollars. CAT also expects most of this cost to be covered by a grant the city received earlier this year of $565,000.

The new machines will use fare cards in place of day and month passes, but will still accept cash for one-way fares. They will also have a scanning mechanism for student IDs.

CAT manager John Jones says the improvement in data collection may be the biggest advantage.

"We don't know what time of the day they actually got on unless we go out and physically do a survey, which ties up a person to do that manually. This way the fare box will tell us 100 of those people got off between 10 and 11 a.m.,” Jones said.

The new data collection will allow CAT to identify high-traffic stops and add amenities like shelters and benches where necessary. The systems were all approved earlier this month by City Council, so they should be installed no later than June 2014.

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