Back in March, I blogged about the revolutionary new payment system called Ventra, which will be rolling out in Chicago very soon. I also mentioned at the end of the post that several transit districts in the Tampa Bay area were floating ideas to modernize their fare collection systems. Well now, that modernization plan is one step closer to becoming a reality!
On May 7, 2013, HART announced that it is leading the way when it comes to efforts to create a modern, streamlined, multi-county transit fare collection system that will utilize smart card technology. This effort has been made possible via a collaborative partnership between HART (Hillsborough), PSTA (Pinellas), MCAT (Manatee), PCPT (Pasco), THEbus (Hernando), and transit districts in Citrus and Polk counties (no word yet on whether or not SCAT will be joining in).
As I mentioned in my Ventra post, many transit districts currently utilize fareboxes that are quickly becoming obsolete. In fact, current methods of fare collection used in the Tampa Bay area is over 20 years old (26 years to be exact for HART). Without any further investment, many transit districts in the area will not be able to function as efficiently as those with modernized fare collection systems. I also mentioned that such an endeavor would be dependent on funding. To further move the initiative along, HART, on behalf of the collaborative group, is currently seeking state funding.
Now you may think for a moment that all of this modernization is still decades away. Not so fast says HART! The plan is to roll out the new system in phases during the next three years, with the first phase to be implemented via two modes of bus transport; the HART MetroRapid line (which will begin service on May 28, 2013), and the cross-bay express bus routes between Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties (Routes 100X, 200X, and 300X).
To learn more about this exciting initiative, please read the HART Press Release from May 7. There will be even more info coming out during the next few months!