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Transit May Improve Thanks to New Technology

Public transit users may luck out if Port Authority’s wristband ticketing service experiment goes well.

photos courtesy allegheny county port authority


For the next month, Port Authority will pilot its new ConnectBand technology, which offers transit users the ease of wearing their bus pass on their wrist.

Around 200 ConnectBands will be distributed at Port Authority’s downtown service center (623 Smithfield Street) on a first come, first served basis on Thursday, June 20, beginning at 7:30 a.m. The wristbands will be tested to see how well they are received by the public, based on feedback from the ConnectBand wearers.

The blue rubber silicone wristbands are one-size-fits-all, with an embedded chip that’s similar to those found in ConnectCards. The ConnectBand technology works the same as the current ConnectCard technology used by Port Authority, allowing users to load stored cash value and passes to the device. Users can reload money onto their band or card online, at certain light rail and busway stations, the downtown service center and at participating retailers such as most Giant Eagle and Goodwill locations.

However, ConnectBands and ConnectCards are not interchangeable, as the monetary balances will be linked to two different accounts.

After the month-long trial period, wristband customers will complete a survey, answering questions about how the bands worked and any recommended changes that could be implemented to improve the ConnectBand experience, according to Port Authority spokesperson Adam Brandolph.

“The bands are not replacing ConnectCards,” Brandolph says. “They are simply another option for our customers.”

Other than this new hands-free technology, no more changes are being introduced to transit users’ routines for now.

“Wearing a band may be beneficial to individuals with mobility issues or those who simply don’t want to fish through their purse or wallet or take off their gloves on a winter day,” Brandolph says. “Once we receive user feedback, we will make any popular changes and then make decisions about wider distribution.”

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