Saratoga County

CDTA proposes new fare payment methods

Capital District Transportation Authority bus riders could pay for their trips with smart cards and

Capital District Transportation Authority bus riders could pay for their trips with smart cards and maybe get customer discounts such as free rides on birthdays under a proposed new policy.

The CDTA board last week approved a draft smart-fare policy that if finalized would start in the middle of next year.

The basic fare of $1.50 for standard service and $2 on BusPlus won’t change, but discounts could be offered to those who are pre-paying with new cards that will be more flexible than current “swiper” cards.

CDTA recently installed a new fare collection system on all its buses, a system that has the ability to use smart cards and mobile payment technology.

The proposal focuses on getting riders to use pay-as-you-go debit cards and offering incentives and discounts for frequent riders.

“The new system allows us to incentive use and reward customer loyalty,” Director of Sales and Marketing Jonathan Scherzer wrote in a memo to the board. “This offers opportunities like free rides on birthdays, a free ride after riding 10 times, or after depositing $100 in stored value. These will strengthen the bond between CDTA and our customers.”

Currently, people riding the bus either pay cash or use “swiper” cards good for unlimited rides over a fixed period of time, like 31 days.

CDTA will be holding 10 meetings on the plan across Schenectady, Saratoga, Albany and Rensselaer counties, its service area. Dates already set include July 29 at the Schenectady Public Library main branch, and July 31 at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Dates are also going to be scheduled at the Hamilton Hill Boys and Girls Club in Schenectady, and at the Clifton Park-Halfmoon Library.

Current plans are to present the final smart ticketing policy for approval by the board before the end of 2014, with the goal of offering the new features to customers by mid-2015.

Meeting Wednesday in Rensselaer, the board also approved paying the local share of a $3.5 million project to undertake detailed planning for a Washington-Western avenues bus rapid transit line in Albany. CDTA will be responsible for $700,000, with federal funding covering the rest of the cost.

The authority carries about 16.5 million riders a year.

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