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CDTA Launches 'Navigator' System

The Capital District Transportation Authority has officially launched its Navigator smartcard system.

CDTA has moved "Navigator" out of the test phase. The fare payment system is a combination smartcard and phone app.

Mark Eagan is president of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce:  "This is my phone. But to my kids, who are 14 and 17, they never make a phone call, but they're on this all the time. They expect they can do almost anything through this phone, and that's really what Navigator is about."

Riders set up their Navigator accounts online, through their phone or by stopping by a retail outlet.

Scott Jarzombek with the Albany Public Library says cards are also being made available at all branches. "The fact that every one of our seven branches is on at least one CDTA bus line is important to our patrons. Many of the people who visit the library every day get there by bus. Allowing people to buy and replenish Navigator cards at any of our locations simply makes your life easier."

Customers will get a discount for using the cards, which, with a tap on the farebox, move funds to pay for your ride. There's a computer chip inside instead of a magnetic strip.

Plans call for Navigator to be used as the payment system when CDTA's bike-sharing program rolls out — and customers will be able to use the phone app to check bus schedules as well. CDTA CEO Carm Basile says cardholders will be given perks.  "Birthdays, anniversary days, certain holidays. We can now either reduce the fare, remove the fare, modify the fare. We can say, 'Hey you ride every day, you're going to be rewarded once a month.' Only caveat is it requires registration. You'll register your card. And in addition to the perks, when you register the card, no longer is a stolen card or a lost card a big deal. We'll replace the card."

The familiar Swiper cards and paper passes will still be available for most of 2017; riders will be made aware of a final transition plan in the near future. Officials promise the phone app will be activated soon.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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