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Boise Transit Adopts Digital Fare Payment Technology

Even smaller transit systems like Valley Regional Transit in Boise, Idaho, are turning to account-based fare payment systems in a push to modernize the transit experience and integrate it with other mobility options.

Boise, Idaho
A new digital fare payment system serving transit in Boise, Idaho, is a technology foundation to build an interoperative mobility system across multiple modes of modern transportation.

The Valley Regional Transit, in partnership with Cubic Transportation Systems, launched the City Go Wallet, an account-based fare payment system to support both mobile devices and cash-loadable “smart cards” for a tap-and-pay transit experience.

“Boise has a good bus system, but we recognize that we need to make our transportation system more world class. And to do that, we need the tools available to us,” said Wayne Erik Rysavy, communications manager for Valley Regional Transit.

“This puts us on a path to integrate different transportation modes across the Treasure Valley,” he added.

Aside from the bus system, this could include van pool, car pool and parking networks, “and hopefully in the future, micromobility like scooters and bike-share as well,” said Rysavy.

The new digital fare payment system uses the Umo platform, an app riders download to their smartphones. The app also supports trip-planning, real-time bus information and offers a seamless segue to ride-sharing platforms Lyft and Uber. The system is also being developed to work with Apple Pay and Google Pay, said Bonnie Crawford, vice president and general manager for Umo Mobility at Cubic Corporation. The Umo platform is built with an open API, allowing any mobility provider to easily partner with it.

“As we integrate the parking garages that are servicing the park-and-riders, we also have the opportunity to connect to things like the Spin scooters, and some of the bike-shares,” she added.

Riders have come to expect these levels of mobility technology. A recent survey of riders by TransLoc, a Ford Mobility company, found 74 percent want to see new apps or technology that really improves their experience.

“I think, as we look to the future of technology in transportation, the riders’ expectations are going to grow with the capabilities of the technology,” said Austin Stanion, manager of solutions engineering at TransLoc, during a webinar earlier this year.

A migration trend hastened by the pandemic saw the movement of people out of large urban regions to smaller, hub-like cities, like Boise. Those residents expect modern technology-supported transit, said Crawford.

“One of the things that we have really observed, and part of the drive behind creating the Umo platform was creating an ecosystem that enabled agencies like Valley Regional Transit to unlock a lot of the features and functions of the large and mega cities at a SaaS [software-as-a-service] model,” she added. “So in a subscription model that had a lower cost of entry, had an easier and faster implementation time. So that they were able to bring those mobility options to their communities.”
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Yreka, Calif.