ORCA’s Joint Board last week discussed changes and enhancements (“new work”) for the next round of implementation in June called Maintenance Release 18. Much of the new work in MR18 has to do with the website and streamlining customer service. Work to be implemented in March (MR 17) will affect back office operations: Autoload enhancements, bank holds, business account management, RapidRide card readers at stations, and transaction history.
Currently, routine Maintenance Releases are scheduled 4 times per year. Costs for new work are shared among the agencies using a complex formula based on the previous year’s ridership, except agency specific work. There is $1.5 million in the regional fund for system enhancement. The agencies will address funding beyond that amount during 2013 budget process.
Due to the publicity for this meeting, Sound Transit’s CEO, Joni Earl, opened the meeting expecting the first public comment to be ever given before the Joint Board. Alas, there was no public comment. The next Joint Board Meeting is on February 13, 2012, 10:30 am at King Street Center’s 8th floor conference center. This is your chance to let the managers and staff of all seven Puget Sound transit agencies know your thoughts about ORCA.
Summary of the meeting and work items for June, after the jump.
Representatives from the vendor, Vix, gave a report. The Joint Board discussed the agenda for its Futures Workshop, where they will work on a vision for ORCA based on current industry trends. Vix will be presenting their work in other cities and new technologies like Near Field Communication.
Next in discussion was 2012 legislative bill requests. One concerns proof of payment for certain transportation fares. HB 3183.2/12 (in its 3rd draft) concerns the disclosure of personally identifying information on certain transit passes and fare payment media. It clarifies that “personally identifiable information includes use of information pertaining to a specific, individual transit pass or fare payment media” and “information that may be disclosed regards the acquisition and use of transit passes or fare payment media”.
Results from the second online ORCA survey were presented. The survey was not a statistically valid survey as there was no random selection of respondents by a criteria (very important), no prevention of multiple responses from the same individual, and was limited to those using the website. Sound Transit conducted the survey this year. Metro conducted the first survey in 2009. 183,951 registered cardholders received an email with a link to the survey. 11% (20,734) responded. 2,500 responded to the 2009 survey.
Community Transit’s CEO, Joyce Eleanor, asked about doing a controlled survey and commented that the results haven’t significantly improved since the last survey. CT conducts an on-board survey every 3 years. Metro conducts a telephone-based rider survey every year. Kevin Desmond, Metro’s general manager, suggested coordinating each agency’s survey to achieve the same result without having to conduct a separate regionwide survey.
A good portion of the meeting was spent discussing the process of prioritizing the new work under a limited budget. The list of new work for the next maintenance release presented to the Joint Board were selected by agency staff. However, two of the work items did not yet have a cost estimate. Eleanor was worried that there may not be enough money left to do the “big ticket items” like the disposable card.
She stated the need for the disposable card, which would benefit people with low income/human services organizations/tourists and has been asked for by customers. Desmond thinks there should be a business case to justify disposable cards, which have an ongoing cost for the cards. He also raised the question of cost and benefit for three items which would affect about 6,000 customer service transactions per year but would cost over $200,000 to implement.
The list of work items for Maintenance Release 18, scheduled for testing in June, includes regional and agency specific items.
- Bulk Card Orders Fulfilled at Customer Service Office (CSO) Allows customers to purchase or add value to multiple cards in a single transaction. (vendor price TBD, item removed from MR18)
- Transfer Card Balance Allows fare products to be transferred from one card to another regardless of card category (Adult, Youth, Senior). Allows passes to be transferred after the 15th. ($130.9k)
- Call Center Remote Revalue Allows a customer service representative (CSR) to restore expired value added online. This happens when someone adds value to their card online and didn’t tap their card within 60 days*. (price TBD)
- Security Roles for Ad-Hoc Reporting Improves the security of personally identifiable information and privacy of cardholder information. ($17.6k)
- Youth Card Replacement Allows registered Youth cards to be replaced via the website and customer service without additional proof-of-age by storing card owner’s date of birth in the back office. ($89.6k)
- Portable Customer Service Terminal (CST) Allows all card types, including printed Regional Reduced Fare Permit (RRFP) cards, to be issued in the field such as at community events and locations. ($137k)
Agency specific items:
- Streetcar On-Board Fare Payment (Metro) Design and implementation of Driver Display Unit-less onboard card readers for use on existing and future streetcar lines. ($700k for current generation readers to $1 million for next generation readers)
- ACCESS autoload (Metro) Metro continues to use paper ACCESS passes for customers who automatically renew their pass each month. Allows ACCESS customers to set up and use Autoload since ACCESS vans do not have ORCA equipment for customers to tap. ($70k)
- Non-ORCA Fare Products on the Customer Service Terminal (CST) (Metro) Allows sales of non-ORCA fare products like human service ticket books and taxi scrip through the CST. Allows sales of those products to be tracked by customer and reduces Metro’s dependence on the old Counterpoint point of sale system. ($120k)
* Originally, customers who added value remotely must tap their card to activate the value within 30 days or it expires. Multiple staff (CSR and supervisors) are involved in restoring value to the card. After customer complaints, the period was extended to 60 days. Why have an expiration date? ORCA staff explained that over time, add value transactions accumulate in the system. Each time a card is scanned, the reader has to search through those transactions. Having too many of them in the system would “bog it down” by increasing the card transaction time, meaning a delay every time a card is tapped. The vendor does not recommend eliminating the transaction expiration date.