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Upgrading a fare collection system – 4 tips that can make a difference


When it comes to reliable fare system solutions, there are several key points to consider when upgrading. System review and mapping, phased piloting, training and final installation are a part of a successful fare system upgrade. Our staff has hundreds of years of collective experience in fare system design, development and implementation. Over the last 30-plus years, we’ve assisted many agencies in implementing and upgrading solutions to fare systems.

1. System review and mapping

By starting with a system review, system providers will have an opportunity to review any upgrades, changes or integrations an agency has made since the original fare collection system was implemented. The system review will lead to an overall system map of the existing fare collection system. Identifying changes will help the provider plan better and allow for a smoother upgrade process. With the map in place, clearing defining the fare collection upgrade and desired results will help keep both parties on track.

Another advantage to system mapping occurs when the upgrade is complete. It’s a good idea to update the system map as the agency continues to expand services or upgrade software. This way, system providers will always start with the most up-to-date data. This will also improve ongoing support and performance.

2. Phased piloting

Piloting programs are an excellent opportunity to ensure the overall system is performing as designed. This is also an opportunity for the agency to ensure the way the system, fare structure and software was envisioned works as originally intended. A structured, phased pilot program (either internal or with an external population) can solve issues before they arise. If any changes need to be made, this is the right time to make or update those changes prior to a fleet-wide installation.

3. Training

The transit agency’s staff is key to successful implementation. Incorporating a comprehensive training program can help pull agencies together, creating a clear understanding of the overall upgrade. The staff helps riders understand the changes taking place, which is valuable in helping riders adopt the new technology change. We recommend individual train-the-trainer programs along with onsite training to the entire staff.

If the upgrade includes hardware upgrades, then training the maintenance team is another crucial component. As part of regular maintenance training, preventative maintenance can extend the life of an overall fare collection system. One component of doing onsite maintenance is to include the necessary inventory of spare parts required to keep the system running smoothly. Preventative maintenance, along with having an inventory of spare parts, can save the team valuable time and lead to better performance.

4. Final installation – experience matters

Choosing a fare system provider that has performed many installations can help the process go more smoothly.

With the completion of a successful pilot program, the final step is to complete the fleet-wide installation, ensuring the agency stays on track with launching the upgraded system to the riders. With the completion of the final installation, the first few days are the most important for overall system functionality. We recommend increasing the number of agency staff riding the system to help answer questions and to assist passengers with the adoption of any changes.

When looking ahead, keeping up with rider demands for technological advances means that you’ll need to be reviewing any system upgrades – both hardware and software – on a regular basis.

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