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 will provide extensive information and training when we are further into the project. Check back here monthly for regular updates.
New Fare System Implementation Progress
Progress Update as of April, 2014:
- Scheidt & Bachmann have just finished installing fareboxes on all MCTS buses.
- We are now retrieving data about cash fares paid by passengers.
- We have begun to test basic smart card target functionality with a 'pilot' group of riders.
- Next month we will begin testing the full functionality of the smart card readers, and internet revaluing portal used to reload passes on smart cards. Once the equipment passes all tests, we will start selling the MCTS M•CARDS..
- Throughout the implementation process we will be tweaking the system for optimum performance.
For now, riders should continue to use the new farebox only when paying with cash. If you use tickets –
DO NOT PUT TICKETS in the farebox. Give them to the bus driver who will invalidate them.
Featured Tip — In the future, smart cards will make taking the bus even easier. With the proper fare loaded on the card, you will just touch the card on the target at the top of the fare box briefly to allow the machine to read it. The system will validate your fare and you will be on your way! Remember, before the fare system is operational on buses, we will provide you plenty of instruction and notice.
Reminders — We hear from many riders who are excited about the system. To continue to help you during this fare upgrade, here are some reminders:
- We will give customers a lot of notice when these new cards will be available.
- You will not lose out! We will let you know how to exchange any remaining paper tickets and passes when we switch fare forms.
- Cash will still be accepted with the new fare system.
- Discounted fares will still be available with the new system, including for children, seniors and persons with disabilities.
- Commuter Value Pass and U-PASS Programs will continue on the new system.
For more information see our FAQ section below or, you can download 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
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 email@example.com.
Why is MCTS replacing the current fare boxes?
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 will occur?
- Each bus will have 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.
- CVP, U-PASS and Freedom pass holders will receive a new electronic card, yet it will have all the same benefits as before.
- Riders will be able to reload their MCTS M•CARDs (and purchase new MCTS M•CARDs for a fee) online at RideMCTS.com.
- 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 the current paper passes will be transferred to the MCTS M•CARD.
- MCTS M•CARDs will work like paper passes, but riders will tap 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?
Riders will be transitioned to MCTS M•CARD in three phases:
IMPORTANT: MCTS will not move on to the next phase until each phase is completed successfully. This timeline is subject to change.
Phase ONE: New fareboxes will be installed on buses and tested for functionality.
- Cash fare can still be inserted into the farebox.
- DO NOT insert TICKETS into the new farebox. If you use tickets, please hand them to the bus driver.
- All valid passes will be accepted as fare as usual, by showing it to the bus driver.
Phase TWO: MCTS M•CARD (electronic smart card) will be launched.
- The MCTS M•CARD, smart card, will be launched and available to purchase at numerous sales outlets similar to before. However, at some locations you will not be able to reload value on your current MCTS M•CARD. (See What are MCTS M•CARD fares? for more information.)
- MCTS will begin an online sales component at RideMCTS.com. You will be able to conveniently reload value on your MCTS M•CARD. Also, if you do not have the card, for a fee you will be able to order a new card and have it mailed to you.
- Paper tickets and weekly/monthly passes will be phased out and replaced by the MCTS M•CARD at the end of Phase Two once the fare system is working properly.
Phase THREE: CVP, Freedom and U-PASS card holders will be transitioned to new MCTS M•CARDs.
- Commuter Value Program participants will receive a new electronic smart card that will look similar to the previous CVP card. It will have the same benefits. Since this transition may take several months, some CVP customers will continue to use their current CVP cards during the transition period.
- New Freedom Pass holders will receive a new electronic smart card that may look a little different, but will have the same benefits.
- In fall of 2014 – all students participating in the U-PASS program at their college/university will be able to pick up their new electronic MCTS M•CARD at their school. For colleges/universities that used validation stickers in the past, they will now be replaced by the MCTS M•CARD. Students will still need to show their student IDs. 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.
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.
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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).
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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 there is no additional charge for the card. You only pay for the Stored Value or pass you are purchasing. In the future MCTS may charge a small 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?”
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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. 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 into 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.
How do transfers work with the MCTS M•CARD system?
While fareboxes are being installed on all buses, customers will still use paper transfers. Once MCTS M•CARDs are available, transfers will be automatically stored on the MCTS M•CARD for those using passes or stored value (Pay-Per-Use). Those who are using passes do not need transfers.
If a person is paying cash and has an MCTS M•CARD, they can ask the bus driver to place a transfer on the MCTS M•CARD at the time of paying their cash fare. 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 tap 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.)
The MCTS M•CARD is not available to purchase at this time. Please check back at a later date.
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