On Thursday, October 1, Greater Portland METRO, Biddeford Saco Old Orchard Beach Transit (BSOOB Transit), and South Portland Bus Service will begin requiring fares as the three transit systems introduce DiriGo TouchPass, their new contactless fare system that uses a mobile app and smartcards for fare payment. On that date, all three systems will resume front-door boarding on buses and implement a fare increase, which was approved in 2019 following an extensive public review process for each of the agencies.
In March 2020, in response to the COVID 19 pandemic, the three agencies had reduced service schedules, suspended fares, limited the number of passengers on board, and required riders to board the bus through the back door (except for passengers needing assistance). They have all resumed regular service schedules. Safety precautions, including enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of buses and physical distancing when possible, will continue. The agencies have also installed safety shields inside buses to help ensure the safety of bus operators and passengers. All riders are required to wear a face covering. Individual agencies may have passenger capacity restrictions and other requirements listed on their websites.
DiriGo TouchPass includes a pay-as-you-go benefit, called fare capping, which improves equity and affordability in the cost of using transit. It allows all riders using the DiriGo TouchPass Card or the mobile app equal access to discounts. Riders pay only for what they use. This new benefit also provides a new monthly fare cap for reduced fare riders. The introduction of DiriGo TouchPass, along with a fare increase, was initially planned for April 2020, but was delayed due to the pandemic. Previously, paper tickets, transfers, and passes, along with cash, were used to pay fares. Passengers will still have the option to pay in cash.
The most convenient way for riders to access the new fare system is to download the TouchPass Transit App on their smartphone, open the app and click on the DiriGo/Southern Maine option, create an account, add value using a credit or debit card, and, beginning October 1, start using their smartphone to pay their fare by scanning their QR code when boarding the bus. DiriGo TouchPass Cards can also be used instead of the mobile app and will be available at the METRO Pulse, BSOOB Transit Customer Service, and South Portland City Hall.
Staff from the three participating agencies are also holding additional outreach events to distribute DiriGo TouchPass Cards and help riders learn how to use the new fare system. During this introductory period, DiriGo TouchPass Cards will be distributed free of charge and include two free rides.