Jul 16, 2013 12:20 AM by Matthew Schwartz
TUCSON - Two weeks since its launch, SunTran's SunGO fare card system seems to be having fewer glitches, but it is apparently far from being fully up to speed.
The most common problem is that passengers have money on their SunGO card, but the fare box shows a zero balance.
Bus rider Joseph Varela of Tucson told News 4 about his SunGo card, "It was activated and the meter said it was not activated. So I took out my wallet and showed him (the bus driver) my receipt. At the beginning they said it's going to go a lot faster. It seems it goes a lot slower."
As News 4 reported when the SunGO card system began on June 30, SunTran attributed the card-read problem to a software issue involving the vendor, SPX Genfare, of Elk Grove Village, Il.
Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik said, "I don't care whose fault it is. The riders should not be collateral damage."
Kozachik says he is disappointed in the way the SunGO problems have continued, even though the technical glitches seem to be decreasing. He said SunTran had plenty of time to work out snafus. So, we asked SunTran spokeswoman Michelle Joseph about that.
Joseph replied, "We did do extensive testing, and it's impossible to test in a live environment, with over 250 buses, with the Sun Shuttle system that's out there, it was just impossible to test in a live environment.
The switch from the old ticketing system to the sungo cards cost taxpayers more than five million dollars.
Council member Karin Uhlich told News 4, "Having some glitches could be expected, even after the testing. But the bottom line is this, riders should not bear the brunt of any problems on this system, absolutely none."
One bus driver told News 4 he believes the SunGO card is now working 99 percent of the time. But some riders said that a few of SunTran's 400 drivers still give them a hard time if their SunGo card shows a zero balance. The company says it has told drivers to give card holders a free ride in those cases.
SunTran's Michelle Joseph said, "We're still hearing that the drivers are not aware of the problem. We are hearing that as well and we're very disappointed to hear that. We have been doing everything we can to try to communicate with our drivers to please give the passengers the benefit of the doubt."
SunTran says it wants to hear from passengers who have a SunGO card and had a problem with a driver regarding their card balance. SunTran wants passengers to provide them with the bus route and number, and the time of day the problem occured.
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