Washington mulls P3 for bus fare system

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Washington mulls P3 for bus fare system

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) said in a Sept. 11 blog post that it is considering using a public-private partnership to develop a system bus passengers could use to add money to their fare cards before they board.

WMATA is a tri-jurisdictional government agency that runs an extensive network of bus and rail systems in Washington, Maryland and Virginia.

The pilot project would involve installing 260 street-side kiosks, running on solar power, along some of the District of Columbia's busiest bus routes. The project would reduce travel delays caused by on-board transactions and save money.

The system's developer would pay to purchase, install and maintain the kiosks,in perpetuity or for a pre-determined period after which WMATA would take ownership.

WMATA estimates a cost of $11.2 million to implement the system and about $320,000 per year to maintain it. The authority expects to repay the developer for its investment over a five - to seven-year period from savings achieved by a 33-hour daily reduction in bus operating time created by the new, streamlined system.

The transit authority also suggested that the developer could benefit financially from future bus service expansion.

According to the WMATA business plan:

"There may even be some potential for profit and revenue sharing from higher fares charged for future premium services, such as bus rapid transit or enhanced express routes."

The business plan says that the P3 route is also derived from absence of funds to fund the capital improvement program.

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