Go-To card

Infobox rail line
name = Go-To Card
type = Smart Card
system = Metro Transit
status = Operational
users =
locale = Minneapolis, Minnesota
operation = 2007
owner =
operator = Metro Transit|
The Go-To card is a contactless smart card used to pay fares for bus and light rail lines operated by Metro Transit and other transit agencies in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. The system has significantly sped up boardings on area buses while alleviating wear and tear on existing ticket machines and fare boxes.

The Go-To card went into full operation in early 2007.

Problems & Delays

It was originally meant to go into service in September 2003 and become the first such system in the United States, but technical difficulties have delayed introduction. Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. is working under a contract valued at $16.4 million, but Metro Transit stopped payment at $9.4 million in May 2003 when it became apparent that the rollout would be behind schedule.

Cubic Transportation Systems initially promoted this system as the first contactless smart card installation in the country, but since introduction has been delayed, at least one other system in the U.S. has gone into use. While traditional smart card systems require the card to be swiped through or inserted into a reader, the Go-To card would just require a passenger to tap it against the reading device. This reduces mechanical wear dramatically, and removes the need for readers to be hardened against the sometimes cold and wet climate of Minnesota. Ticket machines on Metro Transit's Hiawatha light rail line were designed with the Go-To card in mind, and were breaking down more often than expected because of the higher-than-anticipated load on the money and ticket handling hardware.

Before this system was sent into full release, some Metro Transit employees and selected area riders were part of a test program, started in the latter half of 2004, using the cards as they go about their daily business. In November 2004 after five months of service, Metro Transit's general manager stated that the devices only achieved 20% reliability.

Cubic has said that the issues delaying introduction are software problems. Frequently, either the reader or the card does not properly detect when it has been used. About 1,000 devices are in place across the system. Blue football-shaped readers are already installed in the area's buses. Software for the central computer system, which handles synchronization and how funds are replenished, was not fully operational until late April 2005.

The underlying technology is Philips' MIFARE system, implementing the ISO 14443A standard.

Full Service

In November 2005, Metro Transit allowed 18,000 trial users to begin using the Go-To card system, with hopes of rolling out the cards to all users by the fourth quarter of 2006.

On November 15, 2006, Metro Transit unveiled the Go-To card for 2,500 users to use during a trial period lasting until January 31, 2007. Users may pick up the cards at select locations.

As of April 2007, Go-To cards are sold at Metro Transit stores.

U-Pass

The Metro Transit U-Pass program is a discounted transit pass sold only to University of Minnesota students or employees taking at least one credit of courses. The pass is purchased each semester, is only effective for one semester, and has a mandatory $16 (as of Fall 2007) transportation fee not included with the actual cost of the pass. The University of Minnesota has recently switched to the Go-To card system effective as of the Fall 2007 semester which allows for semester renewal up to six years. [http://www1.umn.edu/pts/upass.htm]

Metropass

Metro Transit transit pass for trains and buses sold at a discounted rate to employees purchased by local companies. [http://www.metrotransit.org/groupDiscProg/metroPass.asp]

College Pass

Metro Transit pass good for unlimited bus and train rides per semester in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area sold at a discounted rate to eligible college and university students. Participating schools include Augsburg College, College of St. Catherine, Concordia University, Hamline University, Inver Hills Community College, Macalester College, Metropolitan State University, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Normandale Community College, and University of St. Thomas. [http://www.metrotransit.org/groupDiscProg/gotocollegepass.asp]

References

*Charles Laszewski (May 8, 2005). Metro Transit 'smart card' pretty dumb. "St. Paul Pioneer Press".
*Jack Sullivan (July 6, 2004). Smart cards need study. "St. Paul Pioneer Press".
*Press release: [http://www.smartcardalliance.org/industry_news/industry_news_item.cfm?itemID=794 Minneapolis / St. Paul becomes first U.S. transit authority to implement Philips' contactless smart card technology.] Smart Card Alliance. Accessed December 29, 2004.
*(November 2005). [http://www.metrocouncil.org/directions/transit/transit2005/GoToNov05.htm Go-To card system goes live for 18,000 transit customers] "Directions" newsletter, Metropolitan Council.
*Press release: [http://www.metrotransit.org/news/stories/11_06_Go-To-Test.asp Go-To Card customer test expands to another 2,500 users] Metro Transit Website


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