The start of 2016 marks many changes for the mode of transportation I use for work for over the last 20 years. Four new rail lines will go-live later this year, which may allow me to leave my car at home for commuting to work. But eh first change for me happened the first of the year with the introduction of the Flatiron Flyer. This route replace many of the express and regional routes between Boulder and Denver. Also for me, the change in fare structure has reduced my cost of commuting by about one third.
Late last year, I signed up for and was accepted to a pilot program called “The My Ride Stored Value Card”. This is basically a prepaid ride card where the fare is deducted from the card when it is tapped on a card reader. Using the card gives me a $.25 per ride discount on the regular fare. The card also allows for a three hour window to use a transfer onto another bus route. Outside of a rough start, I think this program will be a keeper.
Experiences over the first two weeks:
January 4 – Today was the first day of the new Flatiron Flyer route. These are buses that run between downtown Denver and Boulder on 15 minute intervals. The rides on this route were free today!! I brought my voucher to the customer service desk to obtain my new MyRide card.
This is where the fun begins.
Clerk #1 (as I hand her the voucher) – What is this?
Me – a voucher to participate in your new My Ride program.
Clerk # 2 talks to Clerk #1 and points to boxes on the back table. Clerk #1 grabs items from boxes and returns to station. She starts typing.
Clerk #1 – What is your name.
Clerk #2 -everything you need is written on the voucher.
Me – rolls eyes
After another 10 minutes, I had a card with an initial deposit of $100. Ready to go for Tuesday.
January 5 – I boarded the bus to go downtown. The card reader read “Regional”. I asked the driver to downgrade the fare to local.
<sound of crickets> The driver stares at his console, not sure of what to do. As the line to board grows impatient in front of me, the driver waves me in. Card balance $100. I wrote an email to RTD and was told not all the drivers had been trained on the My Ride card program.
Evening ride – card reader is broken. Card balance $100
January 6 – morning ride – card reader broken $100 balance. Evening ride – card reader broken $100 balance.
I’m starting to think I may never pay for a bus ride again.
January 7 – Finally. a working card reader, withe the correct local fare showing. Card Balance $97.65
Evening ride – no issues. Card balance $95.30
January 8 – no issues on either trip Card Balance at end of week $90.60
January 11 – no issues. Balance $85.90
January 12 – no issues. Balance $81.20
January 13 – no issues inbound. Balance $78.85 Outbound – driver did not know how to downgrade fare (still?) Balance $78.85
January 14 – inbound – no issues Balance $76.50 Outbound -card reader broken
January 15 – no issues either trip. Card balance $71.80
Thoughts: The kinks of the first two weeks will work themselves out. The ‘pay as I use’ will actually cost me less then the monthly passes ($99 for a local pass). I would like to see enhancements such as self-service through the website, as the only time I know my remaining balance is after I scan the card. Also a way for the bus to calculate the fare based on route and location would be helpful and could reduce boarding delays as the program goes wide.