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Study underway to create universal fare card for metro Detroit transit systems



The process of establishing the Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA) has been something of a slow burner, a simmering process that may — one can hope! — finally lead to the establishment of an efficient regional public transit system in Metro Detroit. 

As MT has noted in the past, the RTA has floated the possibility of a number of ideas, including a universal fare card that can be used on every transit system under its umbrella: the Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT), the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART), the Detroit People Mover, and Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. 

It now appears the gears are in motion to see that come to fruition: A $100,000 study, funded through the Michigan Department of Transportation, to find a seamless single fare card that can be used on each system recently commenced, according to the Freep. RTA officials told the newspaper they'd like to have some aspects of the study completed prior to an expected November 2016 millage vote to fund the authority's operations. Still, most options would take "several years to implement," the Freep says. 

Those advanced options could include the ability to pay a fare with a credit card or a mobile device. Before then, the RTA would look to give riders at all four transit agencies the option to use a single plastic card that could be preloaded with fare money.

It's unclear, at this point, what the late-2016 millage vote on the RTA will entail. 

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