Article Highlights

Key Takeaway:

The Spokane Transit Authority in Washington state is planning to launch an account-based ticketing system next year.

Key Data:

The agency told Mobility Payments it is paying $8 million over five years for the system, including capital and maintenance costs.

Organizations Mentioned:

• Spokane Transit Authority
• INIT Innovations

Updated: The Spokane Transit Authority in Washington state confirmed that its new fare-collection system will include contactless open-loop payments–with a beta test planned for next October, a spokesman told Mobility Payments.

The new system will enable users to tap closed-loop and open-loop contactless cards and scan QR codes on their smartphones, with the agency equipping around 160 buses with new validators. Open-loop payments will be available at or soon after launch, the agency spokesman told Mobility Payments.

The transit agency, which serves a seven-city area, had a ridership of 5.8 million for its fixed-route buses last year and just over 10 million in 2019. It also offers paratransit and vanpool service, though these latter two services will not be included in the first phases of the fare-collection project.

The Spokane Transit Authority already has a closed-loop contactless smart card customers can load with passes and stored value. The new account-based ticketing system would replace this card-based system. About a third of agency customers still use cash.

The new fare-collection system will reportedly offer daily and monthly fare capping as part of the ABT. Spokane Transit Authority hired Germany-based INIT Innovations to build the system, including buying and installing the validators on the fixed-route buses, which will get two validators apiece. This will enable all-door boarding, though that service will be phased in, said the spokesman. The agency told Mobility Payments it is paying $8 million over five years for the system, including capital and maintenance costs. INIT originally announced the deal in January 2021.

Customers will also be able to add value to their closed-loop “STA Connect” smart cards and phone-based accounts at retail reload locations in the InComm Payments network, in addition to being able to top up online, including with their phones.

While the agency has no plans to eliminate cash acceptance on board buses, “one of the project goals is to reduce dwell time by reducing the number of cash-paying customers on board,” said the spokesman. He said a survey conducted in 2019 yielded the estimate that around a third of riders paid with cash at the time.

The new fare-collection system will also enable the agency to offer a new discount program, including 50% off for teen-agers and military personnel.

INIT in its original announcement said its back-office revenue management system, MOBILEvario, will underpin the account-based system. The open architecture design would enable the agency “to integrate both new and existing partners easily,” INIT said. The Spokane Transit Authority has not mentioned whether it plans to add other mobility providers to the fare payments service.

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