Final Smartcard Art

New Fare Collection System

Coming in Summer 2015 





When will the new fare collection system begin operating? 

The new fare boxes are scheduled to be on buses starting in Summer 2015 when the new system begins operating.


Why is TARC upgrading its fare collection system? 

TARC’s fare collection system is more than 15 years old, requires significant maintenance and only accepts paper tickets and cash.  The new system will modernize fare collection, replacing paper tickets and passes with smartcards that can be reloaded with value online for long-term use.  These cards will provide fast “tap and go” boarding.  Cash – exact fare only – will remain a payment option.


The new system will also provide TARC with more precise information for better schedule and route planning to meet passenger needs.  


What is the cost of the new system and the source of funding? 

The system is funded with a combination of federal, state and local TARC funding.  TARC received a $2.5 million grant from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) State of Good Repair program and another $1.5 million in federal surface transportation funds from the Kentuckiana Regional Planning & Development Agency (KIPDA) and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. TARC is providing the remaining matching funds to cover the total estimated cost of $4.9 million.


Will fares increase? 

No. With a smartcard payment, a single ride will cost $1.50 - the same fare now available with a pre-purchased ticket.  Cash fare for a single ride will remain $1.75. Drivers will no longer be able to provide paper transfers.  (See “How will transfers work” section below.)


How will transfers work? 

With a smartcard, free transfers will be provided within two hours after the initial boarding, just as transfers are handled today.  A payment will not be deducted from your smartcard account for additional boardings occurring within the two-hour time frame.  If paying by cash, free transfers will not be available and drivers will no longer be able to distribute transfer slips. Cash paying customers have the option of purchasing a 24-hour pass for local routes – a paper card with a magnetic strip that can be swiped on a fare box reader - for $3.50 when they board.  An express 24-hour pass good also for trips on express routes will be available for $5. These 24-hour pass cards provide unlimited rides for 24 hours after first use. 


Why won’t cash paying passengers receive free transfers under TARC’s proposal? 

TARC’s proposed policy will allow drivers to focus more on operating the bus and less on distributing transfer slips and collecting fares, with a goal of improving efficiency and safety.   This system will also provide more equity and reliability in the fare collection payment process.


Will cash still be accepted? 

The new fare boxes will accept cash – exact fare only – and will process cash payments much more quickly than the current system.  The new fare boxes also will reject foreign coins and other items that are not U.S. currency.


Besides a smartcard and cash, are there other options? 

One other option is a paper card with a magnetic strip that can be purchased on buses for $3.50 for unlimited rides on local routes for 24 hours starting with the first use.  Passengers riding express routes can purchase a 24-hour pass good on those routes for $5.  Value cannot be added to this card.


How will I get a smartcard? 

Smartcards will be available in the same way that tickets and passes are now available - by ordering online at or visiting TARC, Union Station headquarters, 1000 W. Broadway, the Nia Center at 29th and Broadway or at TARC retail outlets. TARC is working to increase the number of outlets that will offer TARC smartcards. Smartcards will not be sold or value added aboard buses. Doing so will avoid slowing down the boarding process and causing delays in service. 


How much will a smartcard cost? 

Initially, the  smartcard will be free but you must add at least $5 in stored value on the card.  Value can be added online with a debit or credit card.  At TARC, cash or a check can also be used.   Retail outlets accept cash or check only. The replacement cost for a card is $5. 


What kind of value can I put on the smartcard? 

Stored value – up to $100 - for individual rides at $1.50 a ride, or a pass good for unlimited rides for a specific time period that begins when the pass is first used for a ride, under the proposal.  You can have stored value and up to two different kinds of passes on a card at any one time. 


What passes will be available on the smartcard under the plan? 

Smartcard holders can purchase the same types of passes available today at the same cost as today.  TARC is also proposing a new 7-day pass that will cost $15 and a new 7-day express pass that will cost $23.  Also new will be a 24-hour express pass for $5.  Passes will provide unlimited rides for the time period starting when the pass is first used. For example, instead of a paper pass good only for a specific month, the smartcard will provide a 30-day pass good for 30 straight days starting on the day it is first used for a fare.


What if a smartcard is lost or stolen? 

You will be able to register your card online for balance protection.  If your card is lost or stolen, the fare value can be transferred to another card in your name.  However, if your card is not registered, the value cannot be transferred to another card.


What will happen to reduced fares for people 65 and older, Medicare cardholders, people with disabilities (TARC3 eligible), and students? 

The same reduced fares that are available today will be available for qualified passengers and for students, ages 6 – 17, with cash or the use of smartcards.  For people 65 and older, Medicare cardholders and TARC3 passengers using local and express bus service, reduced fare smartcards will be available only at TARC headquarters.  Reduced fare eligibility will be verified and the smartcards will include a photo ID.  


Will TARC3 tickets still be accepted on fixed route buses? 

Once the new fare collection system is in place, TARC3 tickets will no longer be accepted on fixed route buses.  TARC3 passengers can obtain a smartcard from TARC that will deduct the correct reduced fare.  With TARC I.D. reduced fares can also be paid with cash.


Are TARC3 vehicles part of the new fare collection system? 

Initially, TARC3 and Yellow Cab vehicles used by TARC3 customers will not be part of the new fare collection system but will be phased in at a later time.  Passengers using TARC3 service will continue to pay just as they do today with no change in fares.  


How will I know how much value I have left on my smartcard? 

The fare box will provide that information each time you pay, and if you register your card you can go online and check your ridership history and payment record.


If I use a smart card, can others who board with me use the card?  

No, the fare box will reject attempts to use a smartcard payment for more than a single ride per trip regardless of the kinds of value on the card. 


What happens to benefits of employees who now ride fare free with their company or student photo I.D? 

TARC is working with its partners and these pre-paid fares will continue with the new fare collection system.  Instead of showing a company or student I.D. when boarding, employees and students might instead tap a TARC smartcard associated with their company or school.  In some cases, the company or school ID may be designed to allow programming for use on TARC’s new fare collection system.


Will companies and organizations still be able to buy tickets or passes in bulk for distribution or resale to their employees? 

Yes, organizations will be able to purchase bulk 24-hour passes from TARC headquarters.  


What will happen to my existing tickets or passes when the new system starts? 

Before the new system becomes effective, TARC will provide a period for exchanging tickets and passes for smartcard value.  All paper tickets and passes must be exchanged prior to the date the new system becomes effective.  TARC will provide more information closer to the time the new fare collection system begins operating. 


Will children 5 and under still ride fare free? 



Will downtown ZeroBus service still be fare free? 



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