Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) announced on February 9 that it has chosen the Umo Mobility Platform by Cubic Transportation Systems as its new fare collection system, following a competitive process that began last May.
Umo (pronounced YOU-mo) is a national fare collection system that will connect MCTS riders to not only its bus services but to other forms of transit across the region as well. The new fare collection system is expected to launch in fall of 2022.
MCTS said that the communities it serves will benefit from improved transportation equity. The new fare collection system was made to fit the needs of all transit riders, including those without smartphones or who do not have a bank account.
“The ability to fare cap means riders can purchase as much or as little as they can afford, and still get the discount of a weekly or monthly pass,” said MCTS Managing Director Dan Boehm. “The new system recognizes when riders reach the equivalent of a pass, and automatically rewards them with free rides for the remainder of the period. Now, everyone can access a faster, more convenient way to pay and travel to jobs, education, entertainment and other destinations.”
Riders can choose to pay for their transit trips whichever way they prefer, including via contactless credit cards, mobile phones using the new app, a new smart card reloadable online or at retail outlets, or cash on board the buses.
Expanded retail locations based in a larger number of neighborhoods will also offer multi-lingual capabilities, and options for the visually impaired. With fare capping, riders will pay the lowest price, no matter how many times they ride.
“Making public transit more accessible is key to achieving racial equity in Milwaukee County. To create more connected communities, we must reduce the barriers that keep our neighborhoods, and their residents, separated today,” said Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley. “MCTS is working to reduce barriers to accessing public transit by introducing flexibility in transit fare collection to accommodate the needs of all potential riders.”
The new fare collection system has the potential to support seamless regional connectivity for commuters traveling to and from Milwaukee County and eventually throughout the southeastern Wisconsin region.
“We are excited to partner with Milwaukee Country Transit System,” said Bonnie Crawford, VP and General Manager of Umo. “MCTS sees the future of transit and the potential to connect its community to all mobility options using one app, whether they are riding the bus, grabbing a scooter or booking a ride-share, just like other major cities.”
Because the platform is cloud-based, it works faster than the current fare collection system, offering immediate on-board payment validation via mobile app or smart card. The mobile app will also provide real-time bus tracking and trip planning. To use Umo, passengers create an account via the app and then add funds to their account using their credit or debit card or with cash at more than 200 retail locations.
In the coming months, MCTS will begin educating its rider base how the account-based system works and introduce them to the comprehensive features and benefits found on the Umo mobile app and fare card. On-bus validators are expected to be installed later this fall.
The new system will eventually replace the current M-Card and mobile app. The education campaign will include a timeline of when the old system will be phased out and the new one begins. There will be an introductory period allowing riders time to transition to the new system.