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Smart Card - Signing of the Interlocal Cooperation Agreement and Vendor Contract April 29, 2003

Photo, from left: Joyce Olson of Community Transit; Kenneth Housden of Everett Transit; Rick Walsh of King County Metro Transit; Richard Hayes of Kitsap Transit; Don Monroe of Pierce Transit; Joni Earl of Sound Transit; and Mike Thorne of the Washington State Ferries. Managers from the seven transportation agencies involved in the regional fare coordination project proudly display a prototype of the "smart card" that passengers around the Sound will be using within three years.

The agreement signed today also confirms the selection of ERG Transit Systems as the vendor of the system. The company, based in Australia, has implemented automated fare collection projects in more than 200 cities throughout the world.

From left: Joyce Olson - Community Transit; Kenneth Housden - Everett Transit; Rick Walsh - King County Metro Transit; Richard Hayes - Kitsap Transit; Don Monroe - Pierce Transit; Joni Earl - Sound Transit; and Mike Thorne - Washington State Ferries.

The new system will be expandable in more ways than one. Any public transit organization in Washington, Oregon and Idaho can join in the future. It also provides a system that can be used to pay for road tolls, parking fees, or other services.

Photo of Ron Sims speaking. “Using smart card technology, we will connect this region into a transportation system without boundaries using a single fare card,” said King County Executive Ron Sims. “This is a major step forward for users of mass transit, and marks a new level of cooperation between jurisdictions to creatively work on transportation issues affecting millions of people in our region.”

Sims said the collaboration, known as the Central Puget Sound Regional Fare Coordination Project, represents an unprecedented degree of regional cooperation, commitment of resources, funding, policy coordination and cost sharing. He said the Federal Transit Administration considers the project to be the most collaborative initiative of its kind in the United States, and sees it as a governance model.

“This new technology will provide more accurate ridership data, and make all our systems more cost efficient,” said Sims.

Photo of Smart Card reader. By 2006, passengers will be able to easily transfer from one system to another without digging in their pockets for extra fares and tickets. It will just take a wave of a “smart card” embedded with a microchip that automatically calculates any fare due. The cards can be reloaded and used indefinitely, and will eliminate the current system of more than 300 types of tickets, passes and tokens.

The new fare-collection system will feature a fare card containing a microchip. The chip can be loaded with a cash value or any amount equal to a pass sold by the partner agencies. The cards are read at the farebox, terminal or station with the fare automatically deducted.

It will also give businesses, such as Boeing and Microsoft, which subsidize public transit for their employees, better information about their employees’ ridership.

Updated: Apr. 29, 2003