The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority is getting a digital upgrade, putting its “Jazzy Pass” fare cards for bus and streetcar riders online for the first time and testing technology that would allow customers to pay by scanning their smartphones.
Heretofore only available from bus drivers, streetcar conductors, vending machines and local stores such as Walgreens, the fare cards are now on sale on the RTA’s website.
Patrice Bell Mercadel, a spokeswoman for Veolia Transportation, the private company that manages the RTA, said the online option had an unpublicized “soft launch” beginning Feb. 10. Buying the passes online comes with a $2.50 convenience fee.
The RTA’s board of commissioners also cleared Veolia to start a pilot program in the next few months that will allow customers to pay by smartphone. Mercadel said Veolia will pay for the yearlong pilot, using technology from a company called Masabi.
At the outset, riders will be able to activate a ticket on their phones and show it to a bus driver or streetcar conductor. Mercadel said that if the RTA can find funding to keep the idea going on a permanent basis, the agency will install machines that will let customers simply scan their phones in order to pay.
She could not say how much a full rollout would cost but said the expense is likely to be “manageable.”