News / Edmonton

Alberta offers up $28 million for Edmonton-area Smart Card system

The transportation minister announced the funding along with money for four new electric buses for the St. Albert transit system.

Topher Seguin/For Metro

Transit users could be tapping their way across the capital region by 2018 and leaving their change in their piggy banks, after the province agreed to fund a region-wide smart fare system.

The province announced $28 million in funding for the proposed system that would allow user to pay with cards instead of cash on buses and LRT lines in Edmonton, St. Albert and Strathcona County. “It’s important that we invest in forward-looking transportation solutions,” said Transportation minister Brian Mason announcing the funding in St. Albert Wednesday. Edmonton Coun. Ben Henderson said he’s relieved the plan is moving ahead.

“We’ve been pushing for it for an awfully long time,” he said. “I think smart fare will be much more convenient for the public and easier for us.”

Lorna Stewart, Edmonton transit’s director of customer experiences, said the city hopes to have a fully functioning system up by 2018. She said the city has already started the work on a public tender.

The Smart Bus system, which currently allows users to track buses in real-time, will be an important part of the system, because it forms the basics of the communication for the fare system.

Stewart said like other systems the proposal will have a loyalty type card that can be preloaded and then used as people travel, but they intend to have the system do much more.  

“People want to be able to pay with a credit or debit card; they don’t want to have to carry cash,” she said. 

Other smart fare systems in Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver have struggled to implement systems. Stewart said the city hopes to learn from other’s mistakes, but she acknowledged it’s going to be a challenge.

“This is not for the faint of heart.”

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