Skip navigation

Electronic fare system

We're building a new, state-of-the-art electronic fare system that will make it faster, easier and more convenient to ride the bus or train.

Get e-fare updates by email

You choose how to pay

In the new e-fare system, you choose the most convenient way to pay your fare on the bus or train. You'll be able to use any or all of the following:

arrow pointing up
A fare card
available from neighborhood grocery stores, as well as convenience stores and pharmacies
or
arrow pointing up
Your smartphone
via mobile ticketing or your mobile wallet using Near Field Communications (NFC)
or
arrow pointing up

Your own credit/debit card
including American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa contactless smart cards

The future of fares

...is easy. Not only will you have your choice of convenient payment methods, our new electronic fare system will make it simpler and easier to get around on TriMet:

clockFast and hassle-free

No need to carry cash, find exact change or keep track of paper tickets

umbrellaLost-card protection

Tickets and passes are saved in your account even if you lose your card

touchEasy account management

View account history and set up automatic reloads

cartConvenient

Load value by phone, web or at grocery/convenience stores and pharmacies

piggy bankFair

Potential daily/monthly pricing caps = free rides and savings for frequent riders

contactless wavesContactless

Nothing to swipe or insert—Just tap your card or phone on the reader as you board

Common questions

Why is TriMet switching to an electronic fare system? Won't it be expensive?

contactless logo

We are moving away from paper fares to make it easier and more convenient for riders to use TriMet, and to improve the efficiency of our operations over the long term. Building the system will cost up to $30 million initially, but it will pay for itself over time, thanks to reduced fare leakage, increased revenue, and reduced costs associated with ticket machine maintenance, cash purchases and collection processing.

What about riders who don't have a bank account?

If you don’t have a bank account, you'll be able to get a fare card, similar to a gift card, and load money onto it. We’re looking at building a robust retail network where the cards could be purchased at convenience stores, grocery stores, pharmacies and other retail outlets. This will improve access for everyone—especially low-income riders.

Do I get a discount if I ride frequently?

Another possible benefit for frequent transit users and low-income riders is daily and monthly caps on fares paid. Currently, a 1-Day Pass costs $5 for an Adult rider and is good for as many trips as you take in a given day. The e-fare system we’re considering could also have a daily maximum cap, and once you hit that, you won’t pay for additional trips. The same would be true on a monthly basis, so you could buy a 1-Month Pass "one ride at a time"—a great alternative to the upfront cost of a pass.

Will cash still be accepted to pay fares?

You will still be able to pay cash on buses and at ticket machines, but you would not be able to take advantage of all the benefits of the e-fare system.

Will there still be paper tickets?

We expect to start phasing out paper tickets after the electronic fare system is in place (approximately 2017).

What about the ticket machines?

Ticket machines are our most expensive fare distribution channel, costing us approximately 30 cents for every dollar we collect. While an e-fare system would not replace our current ticket machines, we would likely reduce the expense of operating the machines to help pay for the new system. To accomplish that, the number of options available on the machines may be reduced (i.e., they would only dispense single-ride or 1-Day Passes). Some habits are hard to break, but we want people to switch: It's a better deal for riders, and it reduces our costs as well.

Will there be any fees to use the system?

There will not be any regular charges to riders to use the electronic system other than paying the fare.  However, we may charge a small fee for the cards to cover part of the cost of issuing the cards.

How will the system work for employers that purchase TriMet fares?

Employers will be able to provide their employees with a reusable fare card that is durable and should last up to five years, instead of paper tickets and passes or stickers. Fare value will be loaded electronically to employee cards using a convenient web site. The new system will be available to employers and employees that participate, and will include pre-tax savings benefits as well as convenient account management tools.

Will the public be involved in the design of the system? Can I sign up to test it?

By fall 2015, right after the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail line opens, employee testing is expected to be under way. In 2016, we plan to test the system with a limited number of riders, then roll it out to all riders in 2017. You can sign up for email updates using the form at the bottom of this page, and we'll keep you in the loop!

Will I still be able to transfer to and from Portland Streetcar or C-TRAN?

Our goal is that this becomes a regional system, allowing seamless transfers between buses, MAX Light Rail, WES Commuter Rail, C-TRAN and Portland Streetcar.

Will my bank information be safe with contactless payments?

Improved transaction security is the main reason why the banking industry is moving toward contactless payments. Your bank and personal information is actually better protected and more secure when payments are made using a contactless card than with a traditional magnetic stripe card. The new e-fare equipment and software will be compliant with the same banking security standards required to accept credit and debit cards in a retail store and online. Therefore, you can rest assured that your personal information is protected to the highest standards possible.

Can someone with a portable card reader standing or sitting close to me steal the transit value off my e-fare card?

Transit value is not stored on the e-fare card and cannot be read by unauthorized personnel. The e-fare system is an account-based system, which means that when you purchase a card, a unique transit account is created in the system for securely storing transit value. When you tap your card to an e-fare reader, a transaction is instantly sent to the central system to check the account balance and deduct the correct fare.

 

Get e-fare updates by email