Starting next year, the Jacksonville Transportation Authority will switch to a new, automated payment system with a smart card for bus passengers.
The smart card, which looks like a credit card, will replace the 20 or so different bus passes that exist today, part of a system that has been in place for a generation.
When the new system goes into place, the options for riding the bus will be the pass, tickets and cash, said JTA mass transit director Clinton Forbes. That will make it easier for bus drivers and eliminate fraud, he said.
"Right now there are so many different fares and passes," Forbes said, "and the bus drivers have to know what all of them are."
Bus ridership has increased by about 8 percent in 2011 over last year, and a better automated payment system should help increase ridership even more, said JTA spokeswoman Shannon Eller.
The cost of the conversion is $4.6 million, with the money coming from federal stimulus funds.