CDTA Navigator

CDTA Navigator Card

CDTA shared a few more details today about the fare payment system that's in the works. The transit org will be pilot testing the system this year, and could start rolling it out by the end of 2015.

A few bits about the upcoming "Navigator" smart cards:

+ The paper fare cards CDTA currently uses will be replaced by plastic smart cards with a computer chip embedded in them. CDTA says a card can last as long as three years.

+ The Navigator cards will act either like the current rolling 31-day swiper pass, or like a debit card for fares. You'll be able to load money on to the cards and buy rides with it. And the rides will have a small discount compared to paying with cash -- $1.30 per ride for the first three rides in a day, and then rides four and up are free for the day. (The current cash fare for regular routes is $1.50 per ride. And a day pass is $4.)

+ Because the cards will be connected to an account, the funds on the card can be refilled automatically (kind of like E-ZPass.) If you lose the card, you'll be able to get a replacement and not lose the fare value connected to the card. Also: Multiple cards can be connected to an account, so for example, you could have one card for yourself and another for your child, and manage them via the same account.

+ There will also be Navigator mobile app (for iOS and Android) that will work in similar way to the smart cards. You'll be able to just scan your phone at the fare box on the bus.

Here's a brochure that explains the new features.

Jonathan Scherzer, CDTA's director of marketing, told us today that about 50 percent of people who ride the bus do using a pre-paid fare card of some sort. He said CDTA is hoping the new system will increase that percentage.

Admittedly without seeing the system in action yet, it sounds like Navigator will be step a up in terms of ease of ease and convenience. That might be especially true if you're a semi-regular rider. If you can, essentially, load a few bucks onto your phone for the bus, you don't have to worry about being able to find your fare card or digging up cash. (And, you know, you probably always have your phone.)

As we said before, there are a lot of good things about riding the bus -- hey, someone is doing the driving for you -- and, if you have the choice, it's something worth considering more often. But the experience is not without the occasional snag. And as CDTA continues to build up its service -- especially with the planned expansion of BusPlus -- eliminating some of those points of friction could help get more people on board.

Earlier on AOA:
+ Not in the driver's seat
+ CDTA now offering realtime bus info

Comments

Sounds good to me. I have been taking the bus to work this winter and have been loving it. And this sounds more convenient than remembering to replace the paper pass in my wallet every week. As long as they don't increase the $1.30 fare I get using a ten ride pass, I'm happy.

When I used to bus-commute in another city, there was a similar smart card system and it was AWESOME. On/Off time was significantly decreased, so buses were even a little more timely. I hope this pilot goes smoothly because the faster this gets implemented, the better for bus riders. This is good news!

Yes, I can't wait for this to be implemented. Additionally, the tie to your smart phone will make it easier to monitor your balance on the card at a bus stop and top off if needed before the bus even arrives.

I started using CDTA this year, and I really like it. Looking forward to the Navigator, I think it will make things even better.

Too bad that more of the surrounding municipalities don't partner with CDTA. (ahem, Amsterdam).

I just LOVE riding the bus to work. I don't have to deal with obnoxious drivers or traffic. I can sit back and enjoy my coffee and time with fellow travelers. I take the commuter bus from Schenectady and ride with a great group of professionals.

Once in a while we get a less than friendly driver - but for the most part - they are all kind and considerate and do what it takes to get you to your destination - or connecting bus- in a safe and timely fashion.

I'm using CDTA from past 3 months and it's Okey. One thing I'm looking here is why it's taking a year to introduce Navigator. I even registered in pilot program but did not got a response.
I would prefer to have a chat with fellow travelers but haven't chatted with anyone so far.
I don't like people travelling in CDTA after they finish smoking outside.

What's the status of this program? I would be extremely impressed if the phone application actually works as advertised.

@jakefromstatefarm, still in pilot testing of the physical card, testing of the phone application should come later this year. I believe the goal is to go live with whole Navigator package early next year. Based on my peers via the Facebook community board, the card has been a pretty good success, with only a handful of boo-boo's experienced. I know I only experienced one issue in the three months I've used it, otherwise, I've found the card to be an excellent upgrade from the flimsy passes. I'm certainly looking forward to the phone component testing phase. I believe they have significantly widen the access to the piloting phase, so I highly recommend you sign up and help with the testing. If interest, sign up here: https://www.cdta.org/forms/navigator-pilot-signup

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