Southwest Freeway HOV Ramp At Westpark Drive Now Open

August 18, 2005

The METRO Board of Directors today authorized the agency to contract with Ascom Transport Systems of Norcross, GA., for development and delivery of a smart card fare system.

Ascom was selected after a comprehensive, competitive procurement process that included evaluations of eight firms and on-site inspections of operating smart card systems.

When complete, the Ascom system will allow METRO patrons to board buses much faster, enable METRO retail stores to service customers more efficiently, and provide better data on both bus and rail ridership.

"With Ascom's proven experience in the field of transit smart cards, METRO expects to implement an effective smart card system without delay," said METRO President & CEO Frank J. Wilson.

The base contract with Ascom is expected to total about $10 million. The smart card system should be operational in the summer of 2006.

METRO had contracted with Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. of San Diego to supply an operational smart card system by Nov. 2003. Cubic defaulted on that contract last January, and METRO launched the search for a new contractor.

*A smart card is a credit card-sized plastic card with an embedded computer chip. The chip contains information such as fare price, and transaction and discount information. Under a METRO Smart Card system, riders could use a card to pay for bus or rail trips by touching the card to the farebox or ticket machine in place of cash, tokens or passes. Riders would be able to add value or time to their Smart Cards via the Internet, telephone or a visit to a METRO RideStore or sales outlet. Transit users tend to favor Smart Cards because the cards offer quick processing time, high security, long life and versatility.