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October 1, 2009

New IDs coming to Pittsburgh campus

New University identification cards are coming to the Pittsburgh campus this fall and they’re getting smarter.Pitt ID Card

Updated ID cards for Pitt faculty, staff and students not only have a new look, but also contain a chip that will work as a bus pass when implementation of smart card technology on Port Authority vehicles is completed. That system is expected to be in place in late 2010, according to Port Authority spokesperson Judy McNeil.

The University typically redesigns its ID cards every six or seven years, but delayed the latest update in anticipation of the Port Authority changes, said Jessica Larson of Panther Central. New cards were last issued on the Pittsburgh campus in 2001. Larson said she knew of no plans for Pitt’s regional campuses, which are responsible for their own ID cards, to issue new cards in the immediate future.

Cards will be distributed to Pittsburgh campus faculty and staff through department administrators Oct. 14-30. Graduate student distribution, also at the departmental level, will take place Nov. 23-Dec. 18.

With the exception of graduating seniors, undergraduates will have an assigned day between Nov. 2 and 13 to pick up their new cards in the Posvar Hall Galleria.

Card numbers will not change and the new cards can be used anywhere the old cards worked, such as for building access, Larson said.

If Panther Central has an individual’s photo on file, it will appear on the new ID card. Those for whom no photo is on file will need to go to Panther Central in the Litchfield Towers lobby to be photographed.

Individuals must turn in their old Pitt ID card in order to collect the new one, Larson said. Anyone who has lost his or her card must pay the standard $20 replacement fee and have the lost card deactivated before a new card is issued.

Pitt ID cards act as a bus pass for free rides on Port Authority vehicles county-wide. Currently, drivers manually track the number of Pitt riders.

Under the new system, instead of waving their ID at the bus driver, Pitt riders would wave their ID card at the fare box. The “proximity” cards  would not need to be swiped at the fare box, McNeil noted.

The new smart card-capable fare boxes will be installed by late this year or early next year, although it will be fall 2010 or later before riders will be using their smart cards on all Port Authority vehicles, she said.

For non-Pitt riders, the smart cards, which are similar to a retail gift card, will eliminate the need to purchase bus passes, said McNeil. Instead, riders will be able to reload their card with additional value online, at kiosks or in person at the Port Authority’s customer service center. Eventually, regional transit agencies will be able to connect to the system, creating a “seamless regional system” that would enable a suburban rider to use one card to ride from outside Allegheny County, she said.

The new system also is expected to yield a more accurate count of Pitt riders, McNeil noted, adding that without close scrutiny of a Pitt ID, it’s currently difficult to tell whether the card is valid.

According to John Fedele, Pitt’s associate director of news, the implementation of the smart card technology triggers a reopener clause in the University’s Port Authority contract. “As the implementation of smart card technology was anticipated to occur at some point during the term of the existing service agreement, a new compensation methodology was negotiated and will be based upon the actual rides used by the University as determined by the new smart card technology,” he stated.

The University’s contract with the Port Authority runs through July 31, 2012. That agreement called for Pitt to pay $3.89 million for 2007-08, $4.47 million for 2008-09, $5.14 million for 2009-10, $5.91 million for 2010-11 and $6.8 million for 2011-12. (See Oct. 11, 2007, University Times.)

—Kimberly K. Barlow

Filed under: Feature,Volume 42 Issue 3

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