Capital Metro could issue proposals for speedier technology

Capital Metro officials in Austin are considering issuing two requests for proposals early next year for new ticket vending machines and for a consultant to study its fare system. The goal is to speed up the loading of passengers and reduce the use of cash. New technology is needed as existing ticket vending machines are unable to accept credit cards due to new chip technology and should be replaced with newer technology such as reloadable smart cards, according to Reinet Marneweck, the chief financial officer for the transit agency.

Passengers now use outdated magnetic stripe cards that are purchased for daily, weekly and monthly passes that would gradually be replaced by the new smart cards. The agency currently spends about $3.1 million annually to collect about $24 million in fares. Agency officials are also considering offering passes at more retail locations and to purchase mobile passes at retail locations to reduce the use of cash. Other plans include the addition of onboard fare validator boxes on each bus instead of only on MetroRapid buses.