Capital Metro limits payment options for train riders

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Capital Metro limits payment options for train riders

MetroRail riders will soon be required to use cash, the Capital Metro website or their smart phones to purchase train fare.

Starting Oct. 10, ticket vending machines at some MetroRail stations will no longer accept debit or credit cards; the machines will only accept cash. Riders will otherwise have to purchase a ticket on the Capital Metro website or smart phone application. The changes will be phased in at all nine MetroRail stations during a three-week time period.

MetroRail riders can still use debit or credit cards to buy ride fare on the phone app, online or at the transit store at 209 W. Ninth St., Austin, according to Capital Metro. Customers will also be able to buy train passes at retail outlets, including many H-E-B and Randall’s locations, with a debit card.

The ticket vending machines at all nine MetroRail stations will accept cash and store value cards, which are similar to gift cards, for commuter day passes and commuter single-ride tickets, according to a Capital Metro news release.

The transit authority is implementing the change because Capital Metro would have to spend nearly $5 million over the next five years to upgrade and maintain the ticket vending machines, Communications Manager Francine Pares said. The machines would need new chip technology to process credit and debit cards, and Capital Metro would have to pay for re-certification of the machines to remain compliant with national credit security regulations, she said.

By making ticket vending machines cash-only, Capital Metro plans to invest more funds into its transit services, according to the news release.

Dan Dawson, Capital Metro vice president of marketing and communications, said the app makes purchasing a ticket faster since customers enter their card number only once while setting up the app account. Dawson said credit card customers using the phone app or the website will no longer have to wait in line at ticket vending machines on the platform, which can be busy during peak hours and special events.

Capital Metro launched its phone app in January 2014. As of mid-August, the app had been downloaded by more than a quarter-million people and had sold nearly $5 million in tickets, Pares said.

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Caitlin covers Cedar Park and Leander city councils and reports on education, transportation, government and business news. She is an alumnus of The University of Texas at Austin. Most recently, Caitlin produced a large-scale investigative project with The Dallas Morning News and led education coverage in the Brazos Valley at The Bryan-College Station Eagle. After interning with Community Impact Newspaper for two summers, she joined the staff as a reporter in 2015.
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