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Valley Metro introduces digital fare on its mobile app

The new update includes digitally purchasable one-ride and one-day Valley Metro fares, as well as plans to digitize and integrate ASU U-passes onto the app


Since Feb. 1, users of the Valley Metro app on iOS have had the option to buy digital fare passes to Valley Metro routes, which include both one-ride fares and one-day local passes.

Valley Metro has introduced mobile fare to its transportation services, giving riders of the bus and light rail the option to purchase fare in the Valley Metro app — one of the steps in Valley Metro's Fare Technology Modernization project.

Since Feb. 1, users of the Valley Metro app on iOS and Android have had the option to buy digital fare passes to Valley Metro routes, which include both one-ride fares and one-day local passes.    

This follows Valley Metro releasing its mobile app several years ago, which was introduced early to aid users in tracking the status of transit in real-time during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the addition of mobile fare, users can purchase fare in advance of their trip and manage an online fare account wherein they can add funds. 

"Mobile fare is something that is being added to different transit agencies so that riders have more options to be able to pay their fare when traveling," said Brittany Hoffman, a spokesperson for Valley Metro.

Hoffman said The Fare Technology Modernization project has been underway for several years but was slightly delayed due to the pandemic's effect on the supply chain.

"We wanted something that was tried and true," Hoffman said, regarding the construction process for the modernization project, which required specific attention to the desert heat and dust. 

"We knew that giving people another convenient, easy option was going to be useful for them to pay to get on our services," Hoffman said. "We're expanding the ways that people can use our system."

The transition to mobile fare cards necessitated an overhaul of the existing infrastructure, which was originally installed in 2008 when the light rail began operating.

"Some (light rail fare vendor) machines are a little bit older now," Hoffman said.  

There are also plans underway to integrate ASU's transit passes (ASU U-Pass) onto the Valley Metro app, according to Valley Metro and ASU Parking and Transit Services. 

A University spokesperson for Parking and Transit Services said they are aware of the app and that it has been discussed with Valley Metro for future implementation.

"If the app were to be ready now, we would test it out during the Summer for possible Fall implementation. There will be some logistics involved in going away from the U-pass cards currently in use. We are planning to reach out to Valley Metro to get the latest update," the spokesperson said in an email.

"We're really excited about (U-Passes on the Valley Metro app)," Hoffman said. 

As part of the fare modernization project, the existing infrastructure on light rail platforms was replaced with over 150 new mobile fare readers. Additionally, Valley Metro and the City of Phoenix installed over 900 new digital fare readers on Valley Metro-operated bus routes, Hoffman said.

According to Valley Metro's website, riders can also expect updated bus fareboxes, reloadable fare cards and specialty fare cards for ADA and school passes in the near future. 

Edited by Annie Graziano, Reagan Priest and Luke Chatham.

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