Army tests base security app
- By Brian Robinson
- Mar 21, 2002
Users of public transportation in Los Angeles County soon will have one
of the most advanced fare collection systems in the country to help speed
them on their way, following the award of an $84 million contract to install
a smart card system countywide.
The multifunction, chip-based smart cards will be usable on buses, subways
and light rail, providing the first "seamless" method for riders to move
around the Los Angeles transportation grid. They simply "flash" the card
before a wireless smart card reader, which takes the fare information from
the card without having to make contact with it.
Riders don't even have to take the card out of their pocket or purse
if they pass close enough to the reader.
There are 450,000 frequent bus riders throughout the county, according
to Gary Wosk, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority
(MTA), and 750,000 cards have already been ordered to also cover users of
other public transport.
"The hope is that this system will eventually eliminate the use of coins
and tokens completely," he said. "It should also help to cut down on fare
fraud, to the tune of $150 million over 15 years."
County riders will get their first taste of the new system this summer,
when a temporary paper version of the smart card will be available. The
real chip-based card system is expected to be fully installed by 2004.
The MTA also seeks to partner with other government entities, as well
as schools, convention centers, parking lots and retailers close to transit
stops and rail stations, since the cards can also be programmed to pay for
other items, such as soft drinks from vending machines.
Los Angeles has had this smart card system in mind for a few years,
said Wosk, but will benefit from the experience that the contract holder,
Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., has had installing similar systems in
Washington, D.C., and Chicago. The Washington system, for example, was launched
in June 1999.
Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.