St Louis’ Metro begins smartcard rollout to public after lengthy delay
Metro announced the Gateway Card back in 2011, but the soft launch of the new card only took place at the end of April 2018 after a number of significant delays…
The transport operator for St Louis, Metro, is finally beginning to replace the public’s paper tickets and passes with the Gateway smartcard system, which was most recently slated to launch in 2015.
Pitched in 2011 to provide more convenience and security, less hassle, better service, and more savings, the Gateway Card missed implementation targets in 2013 and 2015, but is now available from the MetroStore at Eighth and Pine streets. Throughout the remainder of 2018, the cards will become available through ticket vending machines at bus transit centres, and eventually from MetroLink stations and some retail stores, ahead of a complete launch in 2019.
“The general availability [at MetroStore] is really a soft launch for the program,” said Jessica Mefford-Miller, a Metro executive, as reported by STL Today. “We’re pushing the cards out to a larger group of consumers as we continue to test this software and prepare for the full launch.”
Eventually, users will be able to top-up the cards online, as well as at ticket vending machines, some transit centres, selected retail outlets, or St Louis’ downtown MetroStore. Users will also be able to set up autoloads to replenish the balance when it gets low, or to renew a pass that is soon to expire.
According to STL Today, the cards have been tested by Metro staff and a number of volunteers since 2014, with Mefford-Miller saying they’ve worked out the majority if issues encountered in that time. Metro spokesman Jerry Vallely described the testing as “very deliberate” following similar rollouts in other regions that resulted in negative passenger experiences.
Since mid-April 2018, over 150 cards had been issued for free, though as the rollout expands across St Louis, there will be a small charge for users to pay to get their hands on a Gateway Card.
While some transport networks across the world have recently taken the step to eradicate cash from the ticketing equation, that won’t be the case for Metro, with users still able to use cash to pay their fare or buy a single-use plastic ticket.
Metro is now looking to take its ticketing efforts mobile.