The Orange County Transportation Authority has selected INIT Innovations in Transportation, Inc. to develop and implement a smart card-based rider validation system for the OC Bus system, offering passengers more convenience and easier access to discounted fares.
The smart cards will embedded with chips and enable passengers to store fare value in a centralized account, allowing them to autoload payments and protect their balances. Riders will also be able to manage their smart cards through a website and use a virtual smart card on their smartphone or other mobile device.
Additionally, riders can choose to pay with cash or credit card through an expanded network of in-person retail sites, enhancing convenience and accessibility for all riders.
The budget for the program is $11.6 million over five years.
“Innovation is a key factor of what we do at OCTA, and this rider validation system is a great example of how we are using technology to meet the evolving needs of riders and to improve the customer experience,” said OCTA Chairman Gene Hernandez, also the mayor of Yorba Linda.
Another important feature of the new system will be fare capping, a policy recently adopted by several other leading transportation agencies that charge riders as they travel and caps the total fare amount for daily and monthly periods. This will make fare collection more equitable and simplify the fare structure, eliminating the need for passengers to pay full cost for monthly passes in advance.
The new smart card system is expected to be in place by 2025 and significantly reduce the reliance on onboard cash payments, leading to cost savings associated with cash collection. The removal of magnetic-stripe components from fareboxes will reduce equipment maintenance costs and expedite bus boardings, improving efficiency.