/ Modified jul 1, 2013 7:21 p.m.

New Bus Payment System Challenging Riders

Passes not reflecting payments in first days of new 'smart card' fare

SunGo fare system (PHOTO: Yoohyun Jung)

By Yoohyun Jung
Arizona Public Media

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The new fare payment system for Sun Tran municipal buses in Tucson was implemented Sunday, and some bus riders experienced problems.

The system, SunGO, uses smart card technology that combines passes for Sun Tran, Sun Express, Sun Shuttle and in the future, the Sun Link Streetcar.

The system is designed to reduce boarding time on buses and make purchasing of bus passes more convenient for Sun Tran riders, Sun Tran officials said in a news release about the new system.

“The card was working for me this morning because it’s the first day that I’ve actually used it,” said Humberto Moreno, a SunGO card user who was waiting outside the Transit Services Office in downtown Tucson. “This afternoon, the route that I was on, was saying that I had no money on my card. I have two economy passes, and I’m still trying to be refunded for one.”

While trying to purchase a monthly economy pass, Moreno said he kept getting error messages that said his card was not processing. He tried for a third time with the help of a customer service representative, and again, he got an error message saying his transaction could not be completed, he said.

Moreno’s bank statement showed two $15 charges from Sun Tran, he said.

A number of riders were outside the Transit Services office complaining that their passes did not reflect payments.

“So this being the first time that I actually bought a pass and tried to use it," said Jon Alfson. "Today being the first of July, I got on the bus, and it said I had no money on it even though I put money on it."

However, Alfson also said he thinks that when Sun Tran gets the “bugs out of the system,” it will prove to be more convenient because passengers can purchase passes in many places - Fry’s supermarket or 7-Eleven stores.

Sun Tran representatives could not be reached for comment.

Yoohyun Jung is a University of Arizona journalism student and intern at Arizona Public Media.

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