The Capital District Transportation Authority is buying a new fare collection system that will let its thousands of bus riders recharge “Swiper” cards or pay their fares by smartphone.
The new system won’t be in place until late 2015, but the CDTA board on Wednesday awarded a $7.3 million contract for developing and installing it to SPX Genfare of Elk Grove, Ill.
“These advancements make our services easier to use and more convenient for customers,” said CDTA Chairman David Stackrow. “Our new fare collection system establishes a foundation that we expect will meet the needs of the authority long into the future.”
SPX Genfare is the same firm that provided the current fare collection system, and it was selected from among five companies that submitted proposals, officials said.
Federal grant money is paying $5.5 million toward the cost of the new system, with the remainder to come from capital and operating budgets between 2016 and 2018.
The current fare system dates from the early 1990s, with some upgrades in 2002. The new system will take advantage of various technologies developed since then and respond to new demands put on the collection system by BusPlus and other service improvements.
Smart cards, mobile ticketing, point of sale terminals and mobile transaction processing will all be made possible by the new system, CDTA officials said.
People will also be able to recharge their Swiper cards over the Internet.
With the new system, customers will be able to buy fares using their mobile devices and then display their payment on screen for validation via a contactless media reader on the bus. For those riders, it will mean faster boarding times and more flexible payment options, CDTA officials said.
The system will also include improved software for tracking revenue from the fares, which bring in close to $20 million a year, according to CDTA CEO Carm Basile.
The contract award was the product of nearly two years of work by CDTA’s procurement staff.
“At the end of the day, we must maintain the integrity of our fare collection system,” Basile said at the board’s monthly meeting at the Rensselaer rail station. “We’re excited to get this behind us and be moving forward.”
CDTA, which provides bus service in Rensselaer, Schenectady, Saratoga and Albany counties, has seen ridership growth in the last couple years and now carries more than 15 million riders annually.