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Big Blue Bus to Start Accepting Cash Again Next Week

Bob Kronovetrealty
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By Lookout Staff

June 13, 2022 -- Nearly a year after the Big Blue Bus (BBB) stopped accepting cash, passengers once again can slip bills and change into the fare boxes starting next Wednesday.

That's when the transit agency will also implement fare policy changes "to reduce bus boarding and travel time, and maintain health and safety improvements on board," BBB officials said.

The changes include accepting both regular and Senior/Disabled/Medicare Metro 1-day passes and permanently reducing the price for Youth 30-day passes to $19.

In addition, the age children can ride the bus for free will go from four to five years of age, while BBB paper passes and tokens will be discontinued, although the passes will still be accepted on TAP and mobile ticketing.

To encourage passengers to use "contactless" fare payments, he BBB will drop the price of a one-way trip to $110 and includes two hours of free BBB to BBB transfers.

Cash passengers will pay $1.25 for a one-way fare that doesn't include free transfers.

From June 22 to September 20, customers can exchange tokens or paper passes for an equivalent pass product at Blue: The Transit Store, at 1444 4th Street.

Next Tuesday marks the end of a one-year pilot program implemented last July to transition to a contactless payment system, BBB officials said.

In April, transit officials told the City Council that the new fare system has worked, with 94 percent of BBB customers having transitioned.

In a report to the Council, Transportation Director Ed King said that accepting cash payments added as many as 13 additional minutes for every 40 passengers that boarded a bus.

"These delays cause slower service that decreases ridership, increases costs, and makes transit less attractive," the report said.

Still, two-thirds of customers surveyed in February said they opposed the cashless system, officials said.

The survey results prompted the Council to reverse a unanimous vote last September to stop accepting cash ("Big Blue Bus to Stop Accepting Cash, Fare Cards; Could Impact the Poor," June 25, 2021).

BBB officials acknowledged the cashless system adversely impacted low-income passengers whose numbers had grown since the coronavirus shutdown.

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