News / Edmonton

What Edmonton's new Smart Fare transit system could look like in 2020

The city unveiled new details about the card-based fare system that is currently under development

City unveiled new details about the card-based fare system that is currently under development for buses and LRT.

Kevin Tuong / Edmonton Freelance

City unveiled new details about the card-based fare system that is currently under development for buses and LRT.

Transit users got a first look at the bus fare of the future Tuesday, as the city unveiled new details about the coming Smart Fare technology.

The method of payment—expected to roll out in 2020—will allow Edmontonians to “tap and go” using a smart card, their credit or debit card, or even cellphones to pay for transit in the city.

“It’s account-based, all transactions are made in the back end system. Customers can manage their own accounts online,” said Ken Koropeski, director of special projects for the city.

He says the new system is safer as lost cards could be replaced without losing the account.

Smart Fare will also put a cap on how much customers pay in a month. Once customers reach the limit for the month, the rest of their rides will be free until the next month.

“There are a lot of people that maybe cannot afford to buy that (monthly) pass upfront or maybe you are not sure what your travel pattern's going to be,” said Gary Googins, regional Smart Fare program manager.

“The benefit of fare capping approach is you don’t have to make that decision upfront. You ride transit as you need to and everyone will have caps so that’s the maximum that someone will pay in a monthly period.”

Koropeski says the fares for the smart cards will be decided by council.

The project has a capital budget of $5.61 million, which was funded by the province in 2016, along with the City of Edmonton, St. Albert and Strathcona County.

In summer 2017, the city contracted Vix Technology to build the Smart Fare system over a three year period. The transit technology company is also responsible for operating and maintenance of the system for 12 years.

The system will be complete by June 2018 and the initial pilot testing will be installed on all buses and LRT stations in 2019.

Koropeski says people will be able to get smart cards either from retail outlets or from smart card vending machines that will replace the current ticket vending machines.  

Transit Peace Officers currently checking LRT tickets will have a device that will allow them to scan the card to tell who paid for their trip and who didn’t.

The full system is expected be in effect by 2020.

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