With more exciting things to come! We’re growing up, guys!
Citizens, riding the bus (or at least paying for it) is going to be way more convenient. The GRTC spent 1.7 million buckeroos on new fareboxes, which may seem like a lot of money to drop on a thing that doesn’t seem too important. But seem again! It could change the way we view the bus!
The sad truth, as every Richmonder knows, is that the GRTC does not factor into the lives of the middle-income households like a bus system would in Chicago, New York, or San Francisco. As a matter of fact, I have ridden the bus in those cities many, many more times than I have ridden the bus in my own.
This is news to no one, and GRTC has been trying to make buses a regular thing for more RVA households with route changes and now-high-tech fareboxes.
Right now, the fareboxes are in sort of a phase one of launch, that is, their full bevy of options will not open up like the promised purple and grey flower until later this summer. We’ll be able to take advantage of tapping smart cards and mobile pay with smartphones (via the upcoming add-on to the GRTC mobile app). Until then, the shiny new boxes’ big audiovisual displays will pave the way for the new improvements, getting its current users used to the system, helping older or vision-impaired riders through the payment process, and moving boarding along at a nice clip.
“What’s happened with other systems that have made this upgrade [like CDTA.org in Albany] is that they now attract millennials who a) generally don’t carry cash, b) are more comfortable paying with a mobile device and c) don’t like buying cars as much as previous generations did,” says Carrie Rose Pace, Public Relations Manager for GRTC. “We also hope that audiovisual components will make it easier for boomers, helping them keep their sense of independence while they ride the bus. It’s certainly easier than the old fareboxes.”
At the moment, the boxes keep the old methods consistent–Go Cards are inserted in the exact same way, cash goes in the same place, employees swipe cards in the same spot–so the learning curve shouldn’t be steep. It’s more like a regular farebox that eats a Mario mushroom at some point in July and ends up with more features. A superbox, if you will.
GRTC’s fare proposals are currently under review by City Council. If passed, that’ll give us the option for an unlimited day pass that costs $3.50 (!), an unlimited week pass that costs $17.50, and an unlimited monthly pass that costs $60.
“It’s cost-neutral for the rider and revenue-neutral for us,” says Pace.
The ultimate goal, as ever, is to get more people riding. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that (hopefully) most of the bugs will be worked out before the Big Bike Race™, during which GRTC expects an influx of out-of-town riders.
Get on a bus, check it out, and report back. If you’re interested in hearing more about the things that make our city go, you’re gonna wanna check out RVANews Live #003 this Thursday, June 4th, 5:30 PM (doors open at 5:00) at Visual Arts Center. Carrie Rose Pace herself will be dispensing knowledge on the “How a City Works” panel, moderated by Aaron Williams, author of our 100 Days to a Better RVA project. It’s $15, we’ll all be there, and it’s a great time that involves beer, wine, a few snacks, and you’ll be out in time to get dinner. We sold out last time, so definitely grab those tix now!