News / Winnipeg

Smart cards could (finally) be ready for Winnipeg Transit by summer: report

Staff still working through tech glitches, city says

Winnipeg locals may finally be able to ride transit using a long-awaited smart card fare program by summer, according to the city’s latest deadline.

A report headed to Thursday’s finance committee shows the city expects to complete field-testing on the program by spring, and start a staged public rollout by early summer.

This is the latest deadline slated for the project, which has been under development since 2013.

“The complexity of the implementation has required more system development, verification and rework than was initially anticipated and this has caused the project to fall behind schedule,” the report reads.

The program would see riders board buses with prepaid fares loaded onto smart cards, as is seen in other cities such as Ottawa.

The report says testing out the electronic fare program began in June 2015 with 100,000 smart card transactions done on 340 buses.

“This test identified a number of areas in the system that required debugging and rework,” it reads.

Transit staff then travelled to Chicago in September in order to view a successful “smart card system development site,” and returned to install that version of the program.

More testing was done in October and November, which staff said identified further glitches with the fare boxes and software.

The report underlines that no smart card fare program will be implemented until all tech issues are resolved.

Once ready, staff say smart cards will be introduced to passengers in phases, beginning with Handi-Transit, seniors, youth, full fare, eco-pass and post-secondary riders.

In total, the city has approved $17.7 million in contracts and services towards the project. 

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