GOLETA, Calif. - Riders hopping on the Clean Air Express or Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District buses don't have to have cash on hand anymore.
Contactless payment options are being introduced in the tri-county region on Santa Barbara County public transit systems.
It's part of a six-month demonstration in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo and Ventura Counties. It is also happening in a few other regions including Monterey, Salinas and Sacramento.
Caltrans District 5 Deputy District Director Scott Eades said, "The state saw the need to be able to have the ability for folks to use their cards things their used to paying for in the store on a bus and seamlessly between bus systems which has been a big challenge in the past, so this is really moving forward."
Customers can use their Visa, MasterCard credit and debit cards or mobile payment options when they board the bus.
Clean Air Express customers will also pay a dollar less as those contactless payments will be $6 rather than the standard $7 one-way cash fare. Multi-ride fare discounts are also being honored.
Marjie Kim, the executive director of the Santa Barbara County Association of Government hopes it will make riding the bus easier.
"You don't have to worry about change or getting your dollars out of your wallet. It is easy, and then you get the benefit of the fare reduction. If you ride it more often you'll get the discounted rate, so the more you ride it the cheaper it will be, so you will be able to not even think about it and ride the bus," said Kim.
Hillary Blackerby of Santa Barbara MTD said it will also help people save money at a time when gas prices are higher than usual.
Riders do not need to register online, and they can visit a portal if they need to keep track of their receipts.
The quick and secure tap-to-pay plan was in the works before the pandemic, but contactless transactions are a cleaner option at a time when masks are still required on the buses.