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The day pass is back

From Metro:

The METRO Board of Directors [Thursday] took the first step to bring back the “day pass.” The Board voted to commit $175,000 to adapt METRO’s Q Card system so a $3.00 extended “day pass” feature can be accommodated later this year. The action allows METRO to modify an existing contract with ACS/Xerox so software can be adjusted to accept this fare payment option.

The action, at [Thursday]’s monthly METRO Board meeting, follows requests from the riding public and is a necessary step in reintroducing the popular fare which was discontinued in 2008 when the METRO Q Card was introduced.

METRO board chairman Gilbert Garcia said, “This is great news for our current patrons and an incentive for new ridership. We were constrained by the software that is used in our fare collection system and will be able to get past that with this action. We’ve been pushing for this as a board and will be delighted to offer the option to riders again soon.”

The extended “day pass” is expected to be reintroduced later this year when the software has been modified and the changes implemented in METRO’s revenue collection system.

See here for some background. This is a good move, and should help them with their stated goal of increased ridership. Passes work with both buses and the light rail, so if you rode the bus to work you can take the train to lunch at no extra cost. While this is obviously intended to give a discount to frequent riders as well as to encourage more ridership, it might wind up costing a bit less than originally estimated because not everyone who buys a day pass may actually use it often enough to achieve that discount. You’d need to take at least three trips to make your day pass pay for itself. Last year, I was in the San Jose/Sunnyvale (*) area for some training at Symantec, and used the light rail system there to travel between my hotel and the Symantec campus. I bought a day pass each day, which equaled the cost of three rides, partly because it was easier to make one purchase and meant one fewer receipt to keep track of, and partly because I might have wanted to go out in the evening. In the end, I never did go out after returning to my hotel after class – though the train stopped right in front of the Symantec campus, it was about a mile from my hotel, and one round-trip walk between the hotel and the station was enough for me. It’s entirely plausible to me that some number of people will buy Metro day passes intending to take extra trips during their day, then not actually taking them.

Not addressed by this press release is whether Metro will bring back some of the other volume discounts it used to offer, such as weekly and monthly passes. I sent an inquiry to Metro about this, and the response I got was that there were no plans to do that at this time. If this is something you would like to see them bring back, or at least consider bringing back in some form, I recommend you contact Metro via whatever means appeals to you and let them know about it.

(*) Note: That’s Sunnyvale, not Sunnydale. BIG difference.

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One Comment

  1. Robert says:

    Adding a weekly or monthly pass would make too much sense…. they’ll wait so they can spend another $175k to “adapt” the Q card system AGAIN later down the line instead of doing it all at once :-/