The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority wants to know what riders think abandoning the “honor” system and installing turnstiles at Metro Rail stations.
The authority will hold a public forum 5 p.m. Thursday in the auditorium of the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, 1 Lafayette Square, to reintroduce the proposal, along other plans to modernize fare collection about the rail and Metro Buses.
NFTA officials have talked for several years about replacing the system that has served Metro Rail since its inception, relying on infrequent checks by ticket inspectors riding underground trains. That system worked fairly well in the past, with a fare evasion rate of less than 3 percent.
But it is now estimated that 5 to 8 percent of riders avoid paying the $2 fare to ride the Metro Rail, said Michael Martineck, an NFTA spokesman.
NFTA commissioners took the first step towards changing its fare collection system by adopting state-of-the-art electronics that accept everything from cash to smart cards. The authority is now contemplating the addition of a stored value card, Martineck said.
“It’s kind of like a gift card, where you can keep adding money to it,” he said.
“It would be used for the bus and the rail and para-transit. We would still have cash fares. That doesn’t go away,” Martineck added.
In addition to the new card technology, the authority is investigating installation of turnstiles at its stations to curb fare evasions.
If implemented, the changes would take place by the fall of 2018, he added.