HESPERIA — With the coming of the new year comes Victor Valley Transit Authority’s launch of its TouchPass electronic fare collection system, enabling passengers to purchase fare products online and ride VVTA buses using a smart card or mobile app.

A few years ago the transit authority began operation of Needles Link Route 200: a Friday-only round-trip service between Needles, Barstow and Victorville. According to the authority web site, busses are currently scheduled to leave the Needles Transit stop along G Street between Broadway and Front Street at 6:15 a.m. PST each Friday. The bus arrives in Barstow at 9:30 a.m., then at two stops in Victorville at 10:15 and 10:30 a.m. It departs Victorville at 2:30 and 2:45 p.m., departs Barstow at 4 p.m. and arrives back at the stop in Needles about 7:15 p.m. Cash fares posted are $13 one way for adults; $6.50 for seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities and Medicare patients. Up to three children age five and under ride free when accompanied by a fare-paying adult.

According to the authority, the new hassle-free payment options streamline the passenger boarding process and help maintain on-time performance.

Technology is central to the mission of VVTA, and with The TouchPass Card or Mobile App available on the App Store (iOS) and on Google Play (Android), passengers with the TouchPass Card or the Touch Pass Mobile App simply tap their card or show their smartphone to the TouchPass reader by the fare box to ride the bus.

Developed by Delerrok, VVTA began piloting the system with a soft launch in early September 2019 to great success. Since then, VVTA migrated many of its popular paper bus passes to TouchPass smart cards. Now, to begin 2020 looking towards the future, TouchPass is available to all passengers.

“Boarding the bus is now as easy as flashing a pass or mobile phone app at the TouchPass reader located near the farebox when boarding,” said VVTA Deputy Director Nancie Goff. “Gone are the days of fumbling around for exact change on a crowded bus with a line of anxious passengers behind you. The TouchPass system makes boarding stress free. The ability to prepay for fare makes budgeting simple.”

“VVTA is driven to provide the latest technology that will enhance our passenger’s experience,” said Kevin Kane, executive director, in a prepared statement. “With the recent addition of onboard WiFi, electronic fare payment is VVTA’s natural next step into the future.”

The TouchPass account-based electronic fare collection system stores account information on secure servers rather than on the cards themselves, as was the case with older systems of this type. This allows passengers to buy fare products anywhere, including ticket windows, online, and on the mobile app.

Once purchased, fares can be used instantly.

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