As part of the transition to new fareboxes, VTA will also change the way it sells day passes onboard buses. For many years, VTA preprints day passes and distributes to the drivers daily. Riders using the day pass can just show the pass to the bus driver. After the transition to the new equipment, the new fareboxes will encode and print a "smart" day pass once the fare is paid. Riders using the new day pass will tag the pass on the sensor located on the farebox (pretty much like how riders using Clipper cards to pay the fare, except Clipper users tag on the Clipper reader, not the farebox).
When riding the light rail with the "smart" day pass, just present the "smart" pass to the inspector upon request. When riding the bus with the day pass purchased from a light rail ticket machine, just show the pass to the driver.
The new fareboxes will also feature a magnetic stripe reader. If you ride using a Highway 17 Express or MST passes, just slide the pass on the reader.
In the meantime, SamTrans also ordered new fareboxes from the same manufacturer, and will rollout the new fareboxes this summer just like VTA.
With the new fareboxes, SamTrans will provide two new features. The first is the change card, which is given to riders that put more money into the farebox than the fare itself. The riders can then use the change card for future rides on SamTrans. The second new feature is the long awaited day pass (to be introduced in 2012 after a fare study and public hearings).
Because getting change beforehand can be very difficult, the new change cards will certainly benefit cash riders and reduce boarding times. Rather than holding the bus and digging into the pocket for exact change, or ask fellow riders for change, the rider can just put a $20 bill in and knowing that he or she is not overpaying. The exact change requirement at many agency is a barrier for bus usage (whereas ticket machines at light rail, Caltrain, or BART can give change).
Unlike VTA, SamTrans is not planning to implement "smart" day pass. Riders with Summer Youth Pass or day pass will slide the pass by the magnetic stripe reader. Riders with change card will dip the card onto the top slot. Like VTA, Clipper users will tag the card on the Clipper reader located separately from the farebox.
The co-current introduction of new fareboxes and Clipper marks a dramatic transition of fare payment at both agencies. Eventually, preprinted passes would become history. As agencies and riders become more accustomed to new fare media, new features like fare cap and 31-day passes (instead of pass based on a calendar month) are becoming possible.