– Miami-Dade introduces no-cash fare payments

Miami-Dade Florida

BY ALFONSO CHARDY

Free EASY Cards will be handed out to Miami-Dade Transit riders beginning Friday as the system moves away from paper transfers and automates fare payments.

Miami-Dade Transit on Friday will begin giving away thousands of its new, so-called EASY Cards — reloadable, debit-like cards that public transit riders will be able to use instead of cash when taking Metrorail or Metrobus. Metromover, which circulates in loops downtown Miami, is free.

The official launch of the EASY Card program is scheduled for Oct. 1, with the cards going for $2 each after the initial giveaway, Miami-Dade Transit officials said.

The EASY Card will not eliminate cash — at least on buses. Bus drivers will continue to accept exact change for the fare, but they will no longer issue paper transfers. These will be phased out, but the EASY Card will serve as a transfer if it is used within three hours of getting off the first bus or train.

Transit riders will be able to get free EASY Cards at all Metrorail stations, major bus transfer points and some retail outlets between Friday and Oct. 16.

Monthly Metropass holders will be able to exchange their September Metropass for an EASY Card loaded with the amount equal to the September monthly pass.

Those without a Metropass can obtain the free unloaded EASY Card, which can be loaded online, by telephone, at certain sales outlets, or at EASY Card vending machines at every Metrorail station.

Elimination of paper transfers has upset some transit riders. Harpal Kapoor, the Miami-Dade Transit chief, said riders would find it more convenient — and cheaper — to use the EASY Card.

“For just $5, passengers can load the card or ticket with a daily pass good for unlimited rides on Metrobus and Metrorail for the entire day,” said Kapoor. “This option is not available under the existing system.”

Under the new system, riders without an EASY Card who want to board connecting buses will have to pay full fare each time: $2. Bus drivers will not provide change for the fare, and will reject pennies or tokens.

Those with the EASY Card will continue to pay the 50-cent transfer charge. Miami-Dade Transit officials said they received no complaints about the elimination of paper transfers.

All Metrorail fare gates and EASY Card machines are expected to be operational by Friday. Riders can use cash or credit cards to purchase the EASY Cards in daily, weekly or monthly amounts — respectively: $5, $26 and $100. They can also load amounts ranging from $5 to $150.

To use the card, riders will tap it on the Metrorail fare gate or Metrobus fare box.

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