MA: BAT bus riders can pay by phone starting this spring

Starting this spring, bus riders will no longer need to rummage their pockets or purses to find their fare, thanks to a new state grant aimed at modernizing fare collection on the city's transit system.

The Enterprise, Brockton, Mass.

Jan. 6--BROCKTON -- Starting this spring, bus riders will no longer need to rummage their pockets or purses to find their fare, thanks to a new state grant aimed at modernizing fare collection on the city's transit system. 

The Brockton Area Transit Authority will soon allow customers to purchase single-ride tickets and monthly passes on a mobile phone app that provides live information about their bus's estimated time of arrival, according to the agency's Executive Director Michael Lambert.

Customers would simply show their phone to BAT bus drivers before boarding, Lambert said, similar to the way fare collection works for commuter rail riders using the MBTA mTicket app.

BAT currently uses the NextBus app to provide riders with live updates on the location their busses, but Lambert said the agency could potentially contract a different privately-run company to bundle that feature with the mobile ticketing service in one app, depending on how the procurement process goes.

Lambert said riders will still be able to pay in cash or use a Charlie Card to board busses, if they prefer.

The cost of developing the mobile ticketing system will be covered in full by a $116,000 grant announced by MassDOT on Friday.

The grant will also pay for the creation of a discounted monthly pass for bus riders, which Lambert said should be available to students in time for the next semester of school. Previously, students and seniors could pay a discounted fare, but couldn't aggregate those savings with a monthly pass.

Lambert said the price of the discounted monthly pass has not been determined yet.

BAT plans to conduct outreach programs at Brockton High School, Massasoit Community College and Bridgewater State University to sign students up for the discounted pass.

Nine other regional transit authorities won competitive grants from MassDOT for their own initiatives, some of which include expanded service on evenings and Sundays.

"This grant program helps support Regional Transit Authorities to launch projects to enhance their existing services and implement best practices," Governor Charlie Baker said in a statement announcing $3.5 million in grants.

Staff writer Ben Berke can be reached at bberke@enterprisenews.com

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