The days of quickly flashing your MCard to ride an Ann Arbor bus will soon be gone.

(Krista Boyd/Daily)
Students wai tin line to have their MCards checked as they board an AATA bus, Monday, Feb. 9, 2009.

To cut down on the use of expired MCards, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority will require all pass holders, including current yellow MCard holders, to swipe their cards through an updated fare box on all fixed route buses.

The change will take effect Feb. 16.

Currently, all University students, staff and faculty members who ride AATA fixed-route buses simply have to present their valid yellow MCards to the driver on their way to find a seat.

According to Grant Winston, the associate director for customer service for the University’s Parking and Transportation Services, the change was brought about to assure the AATA that riders are valid MCard holders.

In addition, the University plans to use fare box data to compile statistical information, like ridership statistics.

The new fare boxes will only collect the MCard’s ID number and expiration date. No personal data will be collected, according to a press release from the AATA.

Since 2004, the University has paid AATA approximately $1.8 million a year for eligible students, faculty and staff to ride AATA fixed route buses. However, some AATA bus drivers have reported that passengers have tried to board using outdated white MCards to bypass the $1 fare.

University MCards expire five years after the date they’re issued.

Winston said there hasn’t been a recent increase in passengers trying to board AATA buses with invalid Mcards, but the University wants to ensure that AATA is driving valid University riders.

“I don’t think anyone would say that it’s a growing problem,” Winston said. “We just want to assure AATA that our riders are legitimate.”

Any MCard that can’t be read due to damage or expiration will have to be replaced when the new policy takes effect. Keeping this in mind, AATA is allowing a one-month grace period to allow University staff and students to obtain a new MCard, if necessary.

Beginning March 16, cards that have expired or are damaged will no longer be accepted, and riders will be required to pay the $1 fare when boarding.

In order to obtain a new MCard, cardholders may go to one of the MCard offices located at Wolverine Tower, the Student Activities Building, Pierpont Commons, the Central Campus Recreation Building or, for health system staff, the Med Inn Building of the University Medical Center.

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