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Electronic fare boxes coming to Turlock transit in May
bus fares pic
Starting May 2, encoded, magnetic strip bus passes will replace the existing ticket books currently sold at City Hall and will also be available for purchase from the fare box itself when boarding the bus. - photo by Journal file photo

The City of Turlock is moving forward with plans to improve bus service in town, with electronic fare boxes the next step in making riding the bus that much easier for local citizens.

The City of Turlock will be introducing electronic fare boxes and a new fare structure in all transit buses starting in May. The new fare boxes are part of the City's efforts to improve Turlock's transit system and make it easier for passengers to ride the bus. 

“Our hope is that this new fare box system makes riding the Turlock Transit system more user friendly,” said Mayor Gary Soiseth. “Whether you are a student, senior citizen or military veteran, there’s never been an easier and more convenient time to ride.”

The City did not raise fares, but simplified the options. Passengers can choose an unlimited use 31-day pass ($45), unlimited use Day Pass ($3.50), a Single Trip pass ($1.50), or a $5 or $10 Stored Value pass — sometimes referred to as a “cash card.”  Senior, disabled and K-12 student passengers would continue to qualify for discounted version of the passes.  As part of a promotional effort the City will be waiving the $0.25 transfer fee for all Turlock Transit routes starting May 2 and ending June 30.

The migration to Fast Fare electronic fare boxes, a product of SPX Genfare, will take place over the weekend of April 30 and May 1, to minimize service disruption.  Starting May 2, passengers will be able to pre-purchase encoded, magnetic strip passes from City Hall, which are passes are similar to those used on Bay Area Regional Transit trains. The new passes will replace the existing ticket books currently sold at City Hall and will also be available for purchase from the fare box itself when boarding the bus.

Passengers can still pay for fares on the bus using cash or coins, but exact change is no longer required.  If a passenger overpays, the difference between the payment and the fare is returned to them on a change card that can be used on future trips.  This change card can be used in conjunction with cash, coins or other fare media to pay for a trip.

Starting May 2, passengers who previously purchased tickets will have two months to either use the tickets on the bus or request an exchange for new passes of an equivalent fare. Exchanges can be made at the City of Turlock’s Finance Division located at 156 S. Broadway during normal business hours.  While exchanges are allowed, no refunds will be made.  Transit drivers will accept both new passes and old tickets through June 30.  On July 1, older style tickets will no longer be recognized as valid fare.

Each of the other three transit agencies in Stanislaus County (Stanislaus County’s StaRT, Ceres’s CAT, and Modesto’s MAX) already operate one or more different models of electronic fare box from SPX Genfare. With Turlock’s planned migration to Fast Fare, the City will continue to work with other regional transit agencies to explore the opportunities for more transit friendly types of cooperation such as a single pass that could be used with all regional transit providers.  

The City will also be hosting a free outreach and education event where members of the public can learn more about the technology and try it for themselves with a demonstration unit.  City staff will be on-site to answer any questions about the new technology.  This event will be held from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at the Turlock Regional Transit Center on Tuesday, April 26, 2016, from 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

The City is also hosting a public forum from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. today at City Hall to seek input on proposed route changes and a new name for Turlock's bus system. The proposal will implement six direct routes that all connect to the Transit Center. Four of the routes will have 30 minute services with the other two running every 60 minutes.