AUSTIN, Texas — A new type of fare is coming to Austin’s transit system as Capital Metro completes work on a new app and account-based fare system.
The new fare, “Equifare,” aims to improve equity for transit riders. It will cost more than the current reduced rate, which is 50% of the standard rate, but less than the standard rate.
The new fare category is for riders with a household income less than 200% of the federal poverty level. It’s also open to riders who can prove they are part of one of these programs:
- Medicaid Program
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
- Telephone Lifeline Program
- Travis County Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP)
- Medical Access Program (MAP)
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH)
CapMetro’s board is set to approve the new fares in May. A fare equity analysis, required for any potential change to the fare structure, is ongoing. The results will be considered by the board before approval.
At the same time, CapMetro will launch fare capping. Transit users will never pay more than the total cost of a Day Pass in a calendar day or more than the total cost of a Month Pass in a calendar month.
As part of the new fare strategy, CapMetro is also launching a new app and an account-based fare system called “Amp.”
Amp accounts will be used to pay transit fares in the new app or by using a new smart card. The card can be physical or digital and will store a balance that is added by the user.
A CapMetro spokesperson said the upgrade to the system and new Amp cards will cost the transit agency more than $2 million.
Beta testing is set to start this summer. A CapMetro presentation showed the agency also plans to start marketing the new fares and system this summer.
CapMetro has been dealing with staffing shortages and service disruptions for months now. The agency is in the process of hiring more bus operators and restoring service quality to normal levels, but that isn’t expected until the fall.
Despite back-to-back monthly gains for over a year before the pandemic, CapMetro is also still trying to restore ridership.
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