Plan on track to modernize how Edmontonians pay transit fares: city committee

Click to play video: 'Tap-and-go transit passes in Edmonton?'
Tap-and-go transit passes in Edmonton?
WATCH ABOVE: Edmonton transit is working on "contact-less payment" and if that becomes reality, the long-standing honour system will become a thing of the past. Vinesh Pratap reports – Feb 13, 2017

A city committee says a plan to implement tap and go technology for transit users when they pay their fares, a move which would effectively eliminate Edmonton’s current honour system, is progressing well and will eventually be put in place.

The type of payment being recommended would see transit riders use reloadable cards that can be topped up with cash or monthly passes that can be tapped when getting on a bus or LRT platform.

“That will be a full open payment system so we’re looking at accepting credit cards, debit cards – it’s also an account based system so if you have a smart card you can reload it with your daily usage,” Eddie Robar, with the Edmonton Transit Service, said on Monday. “You can do account-based (payment) online as well.”

“It will also give us better data on how people are actually using the system,” Mayor Don Iveson said. “How they’re transferring between busses and LRT for example.”

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Since the LRT began running in Alberta’s capital in 1978, Edmontonians have simply been taking their monthly pass or validated tickets and walked down to platforms without worrying about gates. That would change if contactless payment is adopted by the city.

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Iveson suggested he was interested in the idea and that it may allow the city to make better use of its resources.

“I think if we had an opportunity to use our peace officers on the transit system to do different kinds of enforcement rather than checking tickets, I think that would be a better use of their time,” he said.

The digital payment system is in place in countless other cities around Canada and the world.

Iveson added he hoped to see such a payment system in place sooner than later as the city has considered it for about 10 years now.

Robar said once a vendor is awarded a contract, the city would “be able to timeline out how long it will take for us to get to a point where we are implementing the service.” itself.”

The move away from an honour system for transit fare payment actually comes at a time when fare evasion rates are declining. According to the city’s numbers, ETS had a fare evasion rate of just under two per cent in 2015, down from just under three per cent in 2012.

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The Community and Public Services Committee spoke about the fare payment plan Monday, the same day it listened to a presentation on a report called the Edmonton Transit User Experience and accepted its recommendations.

Among the report’s suggestions are creating a code of conduct for riders and transit operators, creating a system to measure’s transit’s successes and shortcomings and greater inclusion of ETS fares with other major sporting events.

READ MORE: Edmonton Transit report recommends improvements including new reporting system

ETS will look more closely at the transit report and report back to the city committee in May.

-With files from Vinesh Pratap.

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