Manassas Journal Messenger | PRTC installs new bus fare boxes

Today marks the first day of the beginning of a new era of convenience for Prince William and Manassas area bus passengers.

The Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commission has upgraded the system that collects passenger fares, which will, in about a year, be linked to a regional mass transit system that allows passengers to transfer from one service to another, paying their way with a single swipe of a SmarTrip card.

Over the weekend bus crews installed 115 new electronic fare boxes on PRTC buses, which will expand payment options and allow riders to take advantage of bulk fare discounts.

The boxes were paid for in part by a $5 million Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation grant that funds the replacement of fare boxes throughout Northern Virginia.

“DRPT recognized the significant potential that new electronic fare boxes with these capabilities would offer, which is why DRPT chose to bankroll 100 percent of the cost,” said Alfred Harf, executive director of PRTC.

At first the new fare boxes will require exact change and will only accept metal tokens (plastic ones are out July 1, so exchange them for paper tickets).

The new fare boxes are likened to vending machines and they will accept tokens and cash. As soon as next summer, riders will be able to use their SmarTrip cards and take advantage of discounted trip packages, said Christine Rodrigo, PRTC spokeswoman.

“Those savings, together with a universal fare medium that will allow transit riders to use all the region’s transit services without having to pay each time they board, is certain to make transit services more attractive and understandable, which in turn should lead to more ridership,” said Harf.

Metro, DASH, Fairfax Connector and other systems in Washington, D.C., and Maryland use SmarTrip cards.

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