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Paperless payments coming for Howard transit riders

Riding buses in Howard will be getting easier thanks to a new app that allows riders to pay for fares on their phones.

On the app, riders can purchase bus tickets using credit cards and scan the ticket from the smartphone screens.

“If you can go to a Ravens game and get into the stadium on your smartphone, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to do the same thing when you want to ride a bus,” County Executive Allan Kittleman said at a Tuesday afternoon press conference.

The app will be made available next summer and was funded by a $50,000 state grant awarded to the county in September. It is meant to make trips easier for riders, according to Cristin Tolen, general manager of Regional Transportation Agency of Central Maryland. The RTA has no plans to make the entire payment system paperless.

Currently, 22 out of the RTA’s 32 daily buses operate in Howard.

RTA, which operates in Howard, Anne Arundel and parts of Prince George’s counties, has since July 2017 added 24 new buses to their fleet. Thirteen operate using “clean diesel,” eight are paratransit and three are electric buses. The clean diesel buses are larger and operate on a fixed route. Paratransit buses are smaller and go to specific locations. Electric buses operate only in downtown Columbia.

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