We've had several riders ask why the value they load onto their ConnectCard via our website can take up to 72 hours to become available.
This sometimes is followed up with a comparison to Starbucks, which allows users to load money onto their card and makes it available almost immediately.
When you load money onto your Starbucks card, your credit card is charged and the money is added to your account. When your friendly barista swipes your card, the register connects to Starbucks' network, checks the balance, deducts the purchase amount from your card, and credits the store in which you purchased your latte or Frappuccino. In this case, your balance resides on Starbucks' network.
Our system works the opposite way: Your balance resides on the card.
When you make a purchase through our online self-service web portal, we charge your credit card, create an "action item" that is sent to all of our equipment, which must be picked up by your card.
Stationary equipment like ticket kiosks, validators and machines they have at stores like Giant Eagle download these action items once a day, seven days a week, but the fareboxes on our vehicles -- because we do not connect to our network every time a card is tapped on a vehicle -- only download the action items when they're taken back to the garage at night.
So, if everything is updated once a day, why do you sometimes have to wait up to 72 hours?
Consider this example: Bus 1234 completes its final run of the week at 9:45 p.m. on Friday, goes to the garage and downloads the action items that are waiting. You go online at 10 p.m. and load $20 onto your ConnectCard. The action item is created and sent out at 11 p.m.
Come Monday morning, you board bus 1234 and the farebox tells you that you have insufficient funds. This is because not all of our buses operate on weekends, and the farebox for bus 1234 hasn't been updated since before you loaded the value onto your card.
You can "push" the updated balance to your card by tapping it at a kiosk or at the Downtown Service Center. The screen will show you your new balance before you even walk away so you can board your bus with confidence that you'll have value on it to pay for your ride.