The Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA) in Jacksonville, FL, reports success in its introduction of the Simply Tap And Ride (STAR) electronic payment fare collection system earlier this year. The system went live after only six months of implementation, compared to a usual 12-18 months.
STAR allows JTA customers to pay their fares on all of the agency’s modes—bus, trolley, and shuttle—with a single, reloadable contactless card or ticket. The cards are good for up to three years and can be reloaded with any of JTA’s value passes or with stored cash value. STAR tickets, which are made of paper and expire after 30 days, are geared toward visitors to the city or people who do not use public transit regularly.
JTA staff performed more than 2,500 hours of community outreach during the four months before the launch, working directly with the public educating them on the benefits of STAR and how to use the new fareboxes and Ticket Vending Machines (TVM). As a result, customers were comfortable with the new system on day one: 60 percent of JTA riders used the new fare media in their first month.
The agency has distributed more than 30,000 STAR cards to its riders, including regular fare, senior, and reduced fare passengers. JTA’s change in media included replacing fareboxes in its buses, trolleys, shuttles, and paratransit vehicles, as well as installing new TVMs at higher-ridership locations throughout the city.
Another benefit of the STAR system—beyond an enhanced riding experience and faster boarding—is its Balance Protection System, which enables passengers to register their cards online. If a registered card is lost or stolen, JTA can deactivate the card and replace the value on a new card.