Metro-East News

Volunteers needed to test Metro’s Gateway Card

Metro is planning to start the second phase of its Gateway Card testing and is looking for more volunteers to take part in the program.

The transit service is looking for people who use both MetroLink and MetroBus to participate in the next phase of testing, said Director of Communications Patti Beck.

The Gateway Card is planned to replace the daily, weekly and monthly paper tickets used by Metro riders. The system allows users to pay for their fares online and protects balances if the card is lost or stolen.

So far 50 volunteers have been recruited, with another 50 volunteers on a waiting list.

The more frequently they use both services, the better the testing will be, Beck said.

Phase two testing is expected to begin in the next few weeks.

“The new MetroLink and MetroBus fare collection systems have to talk to each other and communicate back to Metro’s database,” Beck said. “We will make sure both systems are successfully integrated before we will move our Gateway Card participants into the second phase of testing.”

Beck added Metro wants as many riders participating as possible who meet the testing specifications.

“We are not setting a specific number of testers for this second phase because we want as many people who meet the specifications out there testing on our system as possible,” Beck said. “However, the number will depend on the survey respondents and how they currently use the Metro system.”

Metro does not plan to include people who are reduce fare customers in this phase.

The first phase of testing included only MetroLink riders and about 100 volunteers.

To participate, Metro riders are asked to fill out a survey about their transit usage, Beck said.

Metro wants riders on both sides of the Mississippi River to make sure all of the card validators are tested, she added.

She said there is no deadline to sign up.

“We plan to add more and more customers as the testing progresses,” Beck said. “The survey will remain open until we are completely finished testing so that we may add more testers at any time, depending on which components need to be tested.”

Metro’s multi-year testing and implementation of the upgraded fare collection system, which includes the Gateway Card, is budgeted to cost $29.2 million.

Metro did receive three federal grants for the purchase and installation of the Gateway System and fare collection equipment, according to the Gateway website.

Gateway users will be able to pay online, at ticket vending machines at all Metrolink stations, at select retail outlets. Holders can also set up autoloads or automatically renew passes that are about to expire. Paper tickets and passes are planned to be phased out.

When people use the card on MetroBus and MetroLink, they will tap a sensor that will deduct the fare and tell people if they need to add money to their card.

Beck said Metro hopes to roll out the Gateway Card program later this year.

“We won’t do it until we’re certain Gateway Card is ready to go,” Beck said.