E-tickets now used for fares on North Ferry

Photo: North Ferry General Manager Bridg Hunt demonstrating the new hand-held devices for ticketing. (Photo: Beverlea Walz)

North Ferry’s time-honored method of collecting fares was replaced April 16 by 21st century technology.

The thick, yellow rectangles of paper, that are quickly punched and handed out as both ticket and receipt are now gone. They have been replaced by a hand-held device capable of recording the fare, printing a receipt and even talking to the customer.

Bridg Hunt, general manager of North Ferry, said fares will remain the same and that the cost of the new devices “is a wash” when factoring in the savings the company will realize on the cost of printing.

All crew members have received training and are ready to begin operating the new system. Mr. Hunt said 21 of the devices, which are manufactured by Honeywell, have been ordered “so far,” with software developed by North Ferry.

“It shouldn’t be much different from what’s happening now,” Mr. Hunt said, referring to the exchange between deckhand and customer. For the time being, customerswill still beable topurchase tickets on the boat or at North Ferry’s office, where residents can also buy a book of tickets and tokens for passengers. When a customer presents the ticket and token, the deckhand will use the device to document that a car is onboard and determine the number of passengers. They can then enter that information on the device for either a round trip or one-way fare. The device will print a receipt and an audio component will announce that a car, driver and passenger(s) are being serviced.

In the future, credit cards may be used on board as well as a plastic ferry card, with purchased fares already encrypted into the card. But for now, paper tickets will still be given to deckhands.

The technology will make exchanges more efficient for customers, Mr. Hunt said. There are 15 different fare categories “not counting our commuter tickets, which have three flavors,” he said, and each receipt will itemize all elements of the fare.

For commuter tickets, there will be a bar code scanned by the device; the receipt will include how many trips are left on the ticket.

One of the advantages of the new system will be “transparency,” Mr. Hunt said. It will clear up confusion by infrequent visitors who may question the price differential if, for example, they come alone and then with a passenger.

“It also gives us great metrics for traffic,” Mr. Hunt said.

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Photo: North Ferry General Manager Bridg Hunt demonstrating the new hand-held devices for ticketing. (Photo: Beverlea Walz)