The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority has is in the middle of a multi-million dollar update to its fair collection system and those changes will have a significant impact on you if you use the bus or train in Western New York.

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For years the NFTA Metro Rail and Bus have used cash machines and swipe cards for people to pay their fare when using public transit. While many other transit systems around the county had updated their systems to mobile payments and smart cards, Buffalo and Western New York has lagged behind. The current system in Buffalo has been in place for at least 35 years.

For the last couple of years, the NFTA has been testing a new system that will use smartphones and smart cards. METGO, the working name of the new system, has cost the NFTA around $22 million and should be all ready to go by summer.

This will mark a significant change for the transit system and the roughly 80,000 people who use Metro Bus and Rail everyday.

It's a tap and go, account based system, like what is used in Washington DC and New York City. Users will load money onto an account and use a card, or their cell phone, to tap and pay their fare. The fare would then be deducated from that account. In addition to the reloadable cards and accounts, people will also be able to buy prepaid cards at locations throughout Western New York.

The equipment for the new system has been fully installed at the Allen-Medical Campus Rail Station with the remaining stations getting its new equipment over the next few months.

Personally, I am happy to see that the NFTA is making some udpates. This has been long overdue.

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