Sun Tran officials believe that by late next week they will have finally fixed all the glitches in their new fare-card system known as SunGO.
The mass-transit system - which provided nearly 20 million rides to customers in the 2012 fiscal year - has been beset by problems for almost three weeks as it tries to phase out the paper slips it had been using for the last 15 years in favor of plastic cards equipped with RFID chips.
Kate Riley, general manager of Sun Tran, said it has had success this week on fixing problems with the cards not being recognized on the bus, cards having mysterious balances and problems with the new vending machines.
Officials with the city-owned regional transit line say they are still working with their contractor, SPX Genfare, on addressing one of the last remaining problems - an intermittent problem with cards not registering funds added to them.
Difficulties keeping the previous ticketing system, which is roughly 15 years old, forced the transit line to transition to the new smart-card system.
The system went through rigorous tests before it went online June 30, with tests being performed on fare boxes, cards, tickets, vending machines, and online purchasing and sales outlet equipment, Riley said.
Riley, who has been riding different bus lines for the last few weeks to gauge how bad the problems are, said she has seen a drastic improvement in the last few days.
On one of her most recent trips, she said, she witnessed only one person with a problem.
Even then, she said, the driver allowed the man to ride for free since he had a SunGO card. Those without a card, however, should still be prepared to pay the full one-way cash fare.
Riley said she could not comment on how much the problems with the SunGO system have cost the transit line.
Sun Tran officials are encouraging passengers to submit detailed descriptions of the problems they experience with the system, including the time of the incident and bus line they were riding, by calling customer service at (520) 792-9222 or sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at email@example.com or 573-4346.