Metro Wants To Update The Way It Collects Fares

A consultant will advise the transit agency on how to update its fare collection technology.


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A Metro bus waits to pick up riders at the Northwest Transit Center

Metro says some of its fare collection boxes are over 20 years old and some of the components can't be updated. But technology has raced ahead, and riders now want more options with their smartphones. The transit agency is now trying to figure out how to collect fares in the 21st century. It’s now hiring a consultant to help with the effort.

Metro CEO Tom Lambert says one thing riders have been asking for is a way they can pay a single fare and then transfer to other bus systems.

"That's a platform that we can think can be seamless no matter what jurisdiction you're in,” says Lambert. “We've been talking to our colleagues at Harris County Transit and Fort Bend Transit to see, can they leverage off of that platform."

Along with customer convenience there are other issues. Board member Christof Spieler says fare collection can affect Metro's entire operation.

"A fare system has huge impacts on the reliability and travel time of our service,” adds Spieler. “How you board a vehicle and how long that takes."

Officials say no matter what system Metro eventually chooses, riders will still have the option to pay cash.




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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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