The Duluth Transit Authority plans to upgrade its fare collection system with the help of a recently awarded $1.8 million federal grant.

“The DTA recognizes that our current fare technology is struggling to keep up with the changing ways in which people want to be able to pay for fares,” Sophia Parr, DTA director of planning and grants, said in a Monday news release. “This award will provide us with a more flexible system that can read different types of fare media, opening the door for mobile payment and employer-sponsored pass programs.”

Parr told the News Tribune that the new system will be an “opening of the door” to partnerships with big downtown employers like Essentia Health and could help speed the boarding process.

DTA spokesman Heath Hickock said the grant lines up well with the organization’s efforts to launch a new website and mobile app.

The new fare system will cost $2.2 million in total, with $440,000 being paid out of the DTA’s property tax levy fund. No timeline has been established for completing the project.

The Federal Transit Administration awarded the money as part of a bus infrastructure program that totaled more than $2 billion around the country.

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