Transportation

The day of digging for quarters on the bus is over, thanks to smart card

Nine transit agencies are offering one payment card.
Nine transit agencies are offering one payment card. tbizjak@sacbee.com

You can now ride almost any bus in the Sacramento five-county region without having to dig in your pocket for dollars, dimes and quarters.

Nine area transit agencies on Thursday announced the launch of a regional “Connect Card,” similar to an ATM card, that can be tapped against a fare machine on a bus or at light-rail stations to pay for the ride. Local transit officials say the card allows riders to transfer from one city or county’s bus system to the next without having to deal with each agency’s ticketing protocols.

Participating agencies are Sacramento Regional Transit, El Dorado Transit, Elk Grove’s e-tran system, Folsom Stage Line, Placer County Transit, Roseville Transit, South County Transit Link, Yolobus and Yuba-Sutter Transit.

The machine deducts the fare from the card account, or notes whether the cardholder has some form of transit pass.

Eventually, the card system could replace cash, credit cards and paper passes for many riders, transit officials say, although it is up to bus agencies to decide if they will ultimately phase those other payment methods out entirely.

The Connect Card is not the only form of new technology in use in the region. Some Sacramento Regional Transit riders already have a smartphone ticketing app – called RideSacRT – that can be used instead of cash or the Connect Card.

The $15 million Connect Card system will reduce administrative costs for transit agencies and increase regional transit ridership by making cross-agency transfers easier for riders, according to regional transit officials.

For more information, go to www.connecttransitcard.com, or call 916-321-2877. Cards also will be available at 14 Raley’s supermarkets in the Sacramento region. Go to the connecttransitcard website for a location listing.

Tony Bizjak: 916-321-1059, @TonyBizjak

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