New fare boxes designed to speed up the boarding process are appearing on Metro Transit buses.
The first of the fare boxes, installed on eight buses earlier this month, allow riders with a transfer ticket to simply swipe and ride.
The feature will allow riders to spend less time at the fare box, said spokesman John Komarek, and may someday allow riders to pay with a credit card.
With the current fare boxes, which date to 1992, riders insert their transfer ticket into a slot. The machine reads the transfer, then spits it back out, which can be time consuming.
With the new boxes, riders with transfers will be able get on just as fast as riders who swipe their GoTo or Metropass cards.
“There is no waiting for the ticket to go in and come back out,” Komarek said.
“When you add minutes and seconds up, it compounds as you go along through the day.”
Metro Transit riders use about 54,600 transfer tickets a day and buses are stopped to board passengers about one-third of the time they are in service.
The new fare boxes also eliminate the possibility of a paper jam. While rare, they can delay boardings and, in the worst case, cause a bus to be taken out of service, Komarek said.
The plan, Komarek said, is eventually to incorporate card readers into the fare boxes.
For now, they will remain a separate unit. The hope is that eventually riders will be able to pay with a credit or debit card.
“We want to make it as convenient as possible,” Komarek said.
Old fare boxes will be swapped out for new ones as time and funding allows, Komarek said.
That may take several years since Metro Transit has 909 buses in its fleet and each fare box costs about $15,000.
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768