New Fare System

MCTS is pleased to be able to convert to a new electronic fare system. This is a tremendously complicated project which we are committed to keep you informed throughout. We are providing extensive information and training during this project. Check back here monthly for regular updates.

New Fare System Implementation Progress


Progress Update as of October 2014:

MCTS ROLLS OUT STORED VALUE ON MCTS M•CARD

Two weeks ago, Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) began selling the MCTS M•CARD 1-day, 7-day & 31-day passes. Today, the next step in the rollout – riders can purchase MCTS M•CARD Stored Value. Stored Value is cash value you load onto your MCTS M•CARD to pay for transit rides. This will replace tickets. A discounted fare will be deducted each time you ride an MCTS bus, so you can Pay-Per-Use.

This plastic smart card can be electronically loaded with transit passes at 55 retail outlets. This is a more convenient and secure way to pay fares.

How MCTS M•CARD works:

Simply touch your MCTS M•CARD to the orange target (see below).

  • Pass – the farebox will check to see it is valid.
  • Store Value – one discounted fare will be deducted each time you use it.

The passenger display will show information about the transaction.

The farebox will beep once for full fare or twice for reduced fare cards. 

The conversion to smart card technology is just one of three major technological improvements MCTS is implementing on the transit systems this year. Real-Time Information and an Automated Bus Stop Announcement system also make taking transit easier.  

The Milwaukee County Transit System is a vital service to the community, connecting 45 million riders each year with jobs, schools, shopping, healthcare and recreation in Milwaukee County.

For more information see our FAQ section below or, you can download our New Technology PowerPoint or these helpful brochures on the MCTS M•CARD and the new electronic fareboxes. (Click on images to download. You may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.)

 

 

                   New MTCS M-CARDs            New MCTS Fareboxes
                  

MCTS M•CARD Frequently Asked Questions

You may have questions about using MCTS M•CARD. Read on for answers to our Frequently Asked Questions or download this PDF (You may need to download Adobe Acrobat Reader to view.) If any of your questions aren't covered here, please call MCTS M•CARD Services at 414-937-0470 or send an email to mcardservices@mcts.org.

 

Why is MCTS replacing the fare system?
How will the new fare system assist MCTS and Riders?
What changes are occurring?
What will stay the same?
How is this being paid for?
When is the MCTS M•CARD system coming?
How will fares be affected?
What do I pay as a Senior (age 65 & older) or as a person with disabilities?
Will there be any new fare forms?
What is a Smart Card - MCTS M•CARD?
Where will I be able to get an MCTS M•CARD?
Does it cost anything to buy an MCTS M•CARD?
What kind of fare options are available on an MCTS M•CARD?
What is stored value – Pay-Per-Use?
What will happen to paper passes and tickets?
How do transfers work with the MCTS M•CARD system?
What if I'm paying for more than one person?
How do I use MCTS M•CARD to pay my fare?
What are MCTS M•CARD Fares?
My nonprofit organization buys & distributes bus tickets to our clients. What do we do now?
How does the M•CARD affect my bus travel to Waukesha County?
How do I pay the Route 79 Zone Fare with an MCTS M•CARD?
What do I do if my MCTS M∙CARD is lost or stolen?
What if I have questions about my card?

 

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

 

Why is MCTS replacing the fare system?

The current MCTS fare system has been in place since the mid 1980’s. The system is very outdated and the fare boxes require more maintenance. They are no longer cost effective. Additionally, the new fare system will allow us to better track ridership and provide better service.

Back to top.

How will the new fare system assist MCTS and Riders?

  • More Efficiency: More reliable equipment will allow MCTS to better control costs.
  • Revenue: The new fare system’s advanced counterfeit detection and sophisticated technology assure the collection of correct fares and reduce fare evasion.
  • Ridership Data: With the new fare system MCTS will get accurate counts of everyone that boards the bus.
  • Planning: Data collected will enable MCTS to better monitor routing and make changes when needed.
Back to top.

What changes are occurring?

  • Each bus has a new farebox.
  • The new MCTS M•CARD smart card will be introduced and paper passes and tickets will be eventually phased out.
  • People using MCTS M•CARDs will no longer need paper transfers. Free transfers will now be encoded on the MCTS M•CARD and will be valid for 90 minutes.
  • EVERYONE will need a smart card even riders paying cash. You can still pay cash, but to transfer you will need an MCTS M•CARD in order to have a 90 minute transfer loaded on to it. (Paper transfer are still in use, but will eventually be phased out.)
  • CVP, U-PASS and Freedom pass holders have received new electronic cards.
  • Riders will be able to reload their MCTS M•CARDs (and purchase new MCTS M•CARDs for a fee) online at RideMCTS.com (note that M•CARDs will also be sold at many existing pass and ticket sales outlets.) Riders will also be able to order the M•CARD through the phone.
  • The weekly pass will be replaced by a 7-day pass and the monthly pass will be replaced by a 31-day pass. (See more information under “How will fares be affected?”)
  • Those paying cash can give the bus driver a smart card so a transfer can be encoded on it. 
  • Transfer time on the M•CARDs will be increased to one and a half hours. Transfers allow you to board additional buses to get to your final destination without having to pay an additional fare.

Back to top.

What will stay the same?

  • Cash will be accepted with the new fare system.
  • A version of each of the current paper passes will be available on the MCTS M•CARD.
  • MCTS M•CARDs will work like paper passes, but riders will touch their MCTS M•CARD to a farebox target instead of showing their pass to the operator.
  • Fare forms will still be sold at select retailers.
  • Senior citizens, individuals with disabilities will continue to show their identification cards to ride for half fare. Children under 11 will also continue to ride for half fare.
  • At this time, paper transfers will still be used for those who pay cash and do not have an MCTS M•CARD. Changing to a new fare system is a major change and to be most successful has to be done in phases to assist customers in adjusting to the new system.

Back to top.

How is this being paid for?

ARRA (Stimulus Funds) will fund the entire project.

Back to top.

When is the MCTS M•CARD system coming?

MCTS M•CARDs (electronic smart cards) ARE NOW AVAILABLE.

  • On September 29, riders were able to start purchasing a 1-, 7- & 31-day pass at select sales outlets.
  • On October 13, riders were able to start purchasing Stored Value.

NEXT STEPS OVER NEXT SEVERAL WEEKS:

  • Additional sales locations will sell the MCTS M•CARDs for a total of 100 outlets.
  • MCTS M•CARD fares will be sold online at RideMCTS.com.
  • Paper transfers will be transitioned to MCTS M•CARDS (estimated to occur in the first quarter of 2015). 

Paper tickets and weekly/monthly passes will be phased out and replaced by the MCTS M•CARD at the end of this final phase once the fare system is working properly. 

 IMPORTANT: MCTS will not move on to the next phase until each phase is complete successfully. This timeline is subject to change.

Back to top.

How will fares be affected?

The new system will give you more flexibility and will be easier to use than before. All current fare forms will be transitioned to the new fare system. We won’t eliminate any forms, but we will add more conveniences. And, of course, we will always accept cash.

Those who currently use full and half fare tickets will still get a discount over cash fare, but it will be on an MCTS M•CARD. Passes -weekly, monthly, Freedom, CVP and U-PASS - will work similarly, but with smart cards.

Back to top.

What do I pay as a Senior (age 65 & older) or as a person with disabilities?

The reduced fare M•CARD also offers 1-, 7- and 31-day passes. Stored-Value amounts can be added to reduced fare cards. Seniors must show a valid ID and persons with disabilities must show their Medicare or TransitPlus ID card when going to purchase a reduced fare M•CARD. Children ages 6 to 11 are also eligible for the reduced fare card.

Back to top.

Will there be any new fare forms?

  • 1-day pass for adult, premium and half fares.
  • 7-day pass for half and premium fares this is in addition to the adult 7-day pass.
  • 31-day pass for half and premium fares this is in addition to the adult 31-day pass.

Back to top.

What is a Smart Card - MCTS M•CARD?

MCTS M•CARD is MCTS’s electronic smart card for the new fare collection system. It provides a more convenient and secure way to pay fares. The plastic smart card will have a computer chip inside that can store a variety of fare options, including passes and stored value (Pay-Per-Use).

Back to top.

Where will I be able to get an MCTS M•CARD?

Riders will be able to obtain an MCTS M•CARD at similar sales outlet locations where they currently purchase tickets and passes. More information to come regarding these locations, however NEW Convenience - riders will be able to reload their MCTS M•CARD at RideMCTS.com and also purchase new cards for an additional fee.

Back to top.

Does it cost anything to buy an MCTS M•CARD?

At this time, the M•CARD is free. You only pay for the fare you put on the card (i.e. 1-, 7- & 31-Day passes). In the future MCTS may charge a $2 fee for the card.

Back to top.

What kind of fare options are available on an MCTS M•CARD?

The 1-Day, 7-day or 31-day passes provide you with unlimited rides on all MCTS buses. Your pass will activate the first time you use it and will be good until the end of service on the first, seventh or thirty-first day respectively.

"Stored Value" (cash placed ) on the MCTS M•CARD is another fare option. This will replace tickets. A discounted fare will be deducted each time you ride an MCTS bus, so you can Pay-Per-Use. See additional information under “What is stored value?”

Back to top.

What is stored value – Pay-Per-Use?

Stored value is cash value that you may load onto your MCTS M•CARD to pay for transit rides. Load any amount between $2 and $100 and the cash value stored on your MCTS M•CARD is deducted to pay your fare when you tap your card at a farebox. For example, if you load $20 of stored cash value onto your MCTS M•CARD $1.75 (for adult regular fare) will be deducted from your card when you board a bus. Also, a transfer will be encoded on your card, so you do not have to pay any additional fare when transferring to other buses for the next one and a half hours.

Back to top.

What will happen to paper passes and tickets?

Paper tickets will continue to be used through 2014 (specific end date to be determined). If you have tickets, please try to use them now. If you still have remaining valid tickets once the MCTS M•CARD is available, you will be able to exchange them for the new fare form at no charge at the Milwaukee County Transit System Administration Building, 1942 N. 17th Street during normal weekday business hours. Call MCTS M•CARD Services at 414-937-0470 for more information.

Back to top.

NOTE: Paper tickets and passes are still currently available & accepted.

Back to top.

How do transfers work with the MCTS M•CARD system?

During the transition to the new fare system customers can still use paper transfers. When using MCTS M•CARDs Stored Value, 90 minute transfers are automatically loaded. Those who are using passes do not need transfers.

 

If a person is paying cash, he/she can have a 90 minute transfer loaded onto a MCTS M•CARD. Once paper transfers are eliminated, the only way a cash paying customer can get a transfer is by having an MCTS M•CARD. When paying cash, a rider should let the bus driver know they would like to load a transfer. He/she will let the rider know when they can load the transfer by touching the MCTS M•CARD on the orange target of the farebox.

 

Back to top.

What if I’m paying for more than one person?

Let the driver know you are paying as a group fare BEFORE you touch the card to the farebox. Wait until the bus operator tells you it is okay to place the card on the farebox. The farebox will deduct the appropriate amount from the Stored Value Pass section of your MCTS M•CARD.

Back to top.

How do I use MCTS M•CARD to pay my fare?

Very similar to the current system, but instead of showing a paper pass to the bus driver or placing a ticket in the farebox riders will touch their MCTS M•CARD on the farebox's card reader, which looks like a rectangular orange pad. A green light and a single beep indicate that the card has been accepted. If you use cash, you will insert bills and coins into the farebox similar to before.

Back to top.

What are MCTS M•CARD Fares?

 

 (Click chart to enlarge.)


Back to top.

My nonprofit organization buys and distributes bus tickets to our clients. What do we do now?

Nonprofit organizations can buy smart cards from MCTS specifically designed for their use. These are available at MCTS Cashiers Office in the Administrative Building at 1942 N. 17th Street. For more details, nonprofits agencies can call (414) 937-3210.

Back to top.

How does the M•CARD affect my bus travel to Waukesha County?

MCTS  fare can be used toward Waukesha County Express fare as long as the premium is paid in cash or through the Stored Value on the MCTS M•CARD.

For transfers between Waukesha Metro Transit System (WMTS) - MCTS Route 10 (Humboldt- Wisconsin) Passengers may transfer between WMTS and MCTS at Brookfield Square, or other locations that would be normal transfer locations between the systems with a valid transfer or pass from either system (e.g. Waukesha Metro Transit monthly, MCTS monthly, weekly etc.) with no extra cost unless a transfer is requested. Waukesha Metro will have a hand held device which will read your MCTS M•CARD to see if it is valid.

If requesting a transfer from MCTS: Passengers transferring from Waukesha Metro to MCTS must pay full MCTS fare when requesting a transfer.

If requesting a transfer from Waukesha:  Passenger transferring from MCTS Route 10 to Waukesha Metro upon showing a valid MCTS
M•CARD, must pay 50 cents to receive a Waukesha Metro transfer.

 

Back to top.

How do I pay the Route 79 Zone Fare with an MCTS M•CARD?

Pursuant to the agreement with Waukesha County, a 35 cent zone fare is charged to customers traveling in either direction EXCEPT for customers traveling only between Downtown and Mayfair Collection/Watertown Plank Road:

  • A 35 cent zone charge is paid by all passengers traveling to or from Waukesha County, including adults, children and those qualifying for reduced fare in addition to any form of acceptable premium (Freeway Flyer) fare.

  • The zone fare does NOT apply to passengers with a valid Commuter Value Pass, U-PASS or New Freedom Pass.

  • The zone fare can be paid in cash or Stored Value, but never a combination of both for the same zone fare.
  • Passengers who pay their fare with Stored Value or an M•CARD pass will use their M•CARD to pay the applicable premium fare while boarding as usual. Zone fare procedures are as follows:

Inbound (to Downtown)

  • If paying the zone fare in cash – Any passenger boarding in Waukesha County should pay the zone fare in cash while boarding.
  • If paying the zone fare in Stored Value –Passengers who board in Waukesha County will use their M•CARD a second time while boarding to pay the 35 cent zone fare.  

    Outbound (from Downtown)
  • If paying the zone fare in cash – Passengers who board in Milwaukee County and alight in Waukesha County will exit through the front door and pay the 35 cent zone fare. 

  • If paying the zone fare in Stored Value – Passengers who board in Milwaukee County and alight in Waukesha County will exit through the front door and use their M•CARD a second time to pay the 35 cent zone fare. 

 

Back to top.

What do I do if my MCTS M∙CARD is lost or stolen?

We recommend as soon as you get your MCTS M∙CARD to write down the serial number which is located on the lower left hand side on the back of the card (starts with 05), and keep this number in a safe place. In the event your card is lost or stolen, MCTS can block your card and replace it with your remaining balance. Once the MCTS M∙CARD web portal is available, you’ll be able to check your card’s balance and load 1-, 7-, & 31-day passes and stored value onto your card.


Back to top.


What If I Have Questions About My Card

Customers with questions about their MCTS M•CARD can contact MCTS MCARD Services at (414) 937-0470 Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.  Customers can also email their questions to mcardservices@mcts.org.

Back to top.