AUSTIN (KXAN) — Following approval for two new transit fare systems in July, CapMetro delayed the launch of the affiliated customer account system.
The board approved its fare-capping and Equifare programs in July, with both set to be hosted through CapMetro’s new account-based system, Amp. The Amp physical and digital account options were set to be available in early 2023 under initial timelines.
However, a Dec. 27 memo included in Monday’s board agenda said the launch date is delayed until the summer at the earliest.
“As part of our work to pilot the technology ahead of a formal launch, it has become clear that we must shift the launch date back from early 2023, to summer 2023 at the earliest,” the memo read in part.
The memo said CapMetro’s technology contractor hasn’t been able to “provide a working product that is ready for public release.” In the interim, CapMetro provided 37,000 passes to the Transit Empowerment Fund in November to provide immediate access for people who need transit services but cannot afford the related fares.
Those 37,000 passes were distributed, with 1,483 individual passes used already for a total of roughly 34,500 boardings, per the memo.
What’s fare capping?
The first program, called fare capping, will help limit how much money riders spend on a daily or monthly basis. With fare capping, customers who have paid for two rides on the CapMetro system will be eligible for free rides the remainder of the day.
For example: If someone rides CapMetro on their morning work commute and transfers between buses along the way, they would hit their daily cap and ride free for the remainder of the day. That daily cap would translate to a maximum expenditure of $2.50 daily.
On a monthly basis, riders would be eligible for free rides for the remainder of the month once they’ve paid for 33 single rides. That translates to a maximum spending cap of $41.25 per month.
Both the daily and monthly fare capping will be tracked through an Amp account, an Amp pass or by connecting an Amp account with a CapMetro pass.
What’s Amp, and how does it work?
An Amp account is required to keep track of fare capping and Equifare services. Users can load money onto an Amp card through either cash or credit, at either a transit store or retailers like Dollar General, CVS, Walgreens, 7-Eleven and Family Dollar. People who pay strictly with cash for their rides won’t be able to qualify for fare caps without using the reloadable Amp card or app.
Riders using the CapMetro app have a virtual card they can sync their Amp account. Once the Amp account is registered within the CapMetro app, users can pay as they go and earn their daily or monthly caps, and reload their account with a credit card as needed.
To qualify for fare caps, users need to pick their Amp mode of choice and stick with it to build up their ridership. Riders can use the physical Amp card or the virtual Amp account option, but can’t bounce between both modes and remain eligible for fare capping.
Who qualifies for Equifare?
Equifare is CapMetro’s new program available to income-eligible customers who, under the program, will received discounted fares. Once an applicant’s eligibility is approved, they can apply for Equifare either online or at CapMetro’s transit store.
Equifare users are also required to use the Amp account to receive discounted fares. Equifare can be paired with fare capping to help maximize monthly savings.
Equifare joins CapMetro’s two existing fare categories:
- Standard: Full rate for a transit pass available to local or commuter fares.
- Reduced: 50% off the full rate for people ages 65 and older, Medicare card holders, active-duty military personnel and riders with disabilities.
Now approved, Equifare is CapMetro’s third category under its fare policy and structure.
The following programs will be used to determine an applicant’s Equifare eligibility:
- Medicaid program.
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program.
- Telephone Lifeline Program.
- Travis County comprehensive Energy Assistance Program.
- Medical Access Program.
- Supplemental Security Income.
- Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing.
- Homeless Management Information System.