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Staff member
Member Bio
Sep 22, 2015
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Whether people travel on the road or the LRT, the city is starting a debate on if they should pay based on how far they go.

In a white paper released Friday, the city raised the idea of both road tolls and distanced-based fares for transit. The paper suggests a distance based-fare system could encourage more people to live in the core and could be achievable with the new Smart Fare system currently under development.

“Numerous metropolitan centres use geographic or distance-travelled variable transit pricing. The city will have more opportunity to apply different transit service pricing models once the Smart Fare system is deployed,” reads the report.

Coun. Scott McKeen said the public will likely be resistant to either tolls or distance-based fares.

“I suspect there is not much of an appetite in the public for any user fee going up.”

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)
A distance-based fare is in place in Los Angeles for bus rides -- a sprawling City of the 1st order. To ride from Long Beach in the south to the San Fernando Valley in the north can cost as much as $18.00 one way, and, with transfers, take several hours to connect destination points. As the L.A. City's LRT system unfolds (about the same age and stage of development, comparatively speaking, as Edmonton's), the bus system is being redesigned, providing feeders to the RT stations. Where this has happened, ridership has increased dramatically and the cost of transit to users is more manageable (under $5.00 for the same trip, LB to SFV) and ridership on this route is through the roof. Edmonton should take a page from its own ring-road design and orient busses laterally between outlying LRT nodes, implemented as new lines are completed. Los Angeles also has a free downtown bus service -- called DASH -- that ferries riders between destinations in the City's core (I believe they now may be charging a nominal fee -- 50 cents). This service has proved to be so popular that they are duplicating the same concept in various suburban neighborhoods.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson argues for different transit fare structure
Mayor Don Iveson said Tuesday charging one fare for any ride on transit may have to change as the city considers so-called 'smarter fare' technology.

Councillors asked city administration questions Tuesday about a study city bureaucrats created examining user fees that Edmonton charges, including transit fares.

The report suggests studying a transit fare system that would charge people different rates, based on the time of day or the distance they travel.

Full Story (Metro Edmonton)

Transit smart cards promise to make bus rides as easy as buying coffee
Edmonton transit officials will be doing site visits next week to finalize plans for new transit smart cards — a new payment option promising to make buying a ticket as easy as buying a coffee.

The smart cards should allow transit riders to swipe onto the bus, and will be re-loadable from a home computer or credit card. They’re intended to replace transit tickets and monthly passes — currently sold for cash in LRT stations and credit or cash at convenience stores — and better integrate with regional bus systems.

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

City moves closer to smarter rides for transit users
Good move. The PRESTO system here in Toronto was mostly implemented last year. There have been some definite growing pains (the machines are often malfunctioning), but it'll be good to finally do away with the archaic paper transfer system.
New smart cards for Edmonton Transit boast a 'social justice' edge
Edmonton finally confirmed this week a preferred supplier for its five-year effort to go paperless on Edmonton Transit fares and that’s giving residents a peek at some unexpected benefits.

Vix Technology and its account-based system won’t just make boarding the bus and reloading a transit card easier. According to transit officials, it could also address a persistent inequality issue in Edmonton – fixing this with a simple, technology based solution: “fare capping.”

People with steady jobs and good paycheques are the most likely to buy a monthly pass. They have cash on hand at the beginning of the month.

Those who might need their last nickel just to keep the lights on are the most likely to pay cash for every trip. It means they pay $3.25 per ride, more money for the same service.

That’s one reason Ken Koropeski is excited about Smart Fare.

With a card and an online account, the system can track how many times a person uses transit during a 30-day period, said Koropeski, director of special projects for Edmonton Transit. No one would have to commit to a monthly pass on Day 1. Instead, the system could automatically track use and once the rider hits that monthly maximum, all other rides are free.

“When you have capping, it has inherent benefits for people with low income,” said Koropeski.

Ultimately, council will decide if it accepts fare capping as a policy, he said, but smart fare makes it feasible. “It’s certainly high on our minds as a possibility.”
Smart Fare taps into regional cooperation
Innovation will improve transit customer experience
July 6, 2017

Imagine using your SmartWatch to tap and pay for a transit ride from St. Albert to Strathcona County. This type of modern electronic transit fare payment system is now under development for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region thanks to a recently signed 15-year Smart Fare contract with Vix Technology.

The Regional Smart Fare System will be available for use on board buses and LRT in Edmonton, Strathcona County, and the City of St. Albert, as soon as 2020. The “tap and go” fare payment system will make paying for transit as easy as buying a cup of coffee. Customers will be able to use their credit cards, debit cards, other compatible smart cards and smart devices. It will also make travel across regions easier for customers since one account can be used on all participating transit systems.

“The Smart Fare approach demonstrates regional cooperation and a shared commitment to using innovation to improve municipal services,” said Gary Googins, Program Manager for Smart Bus and Smart Fare. He noted, “the system design also allows for expansion to other regional transit systems in the future.”

The capital budget for the entire program is $51.6M. The funding is provided by: Government of Alberta GreenTRIP $28.1M; City of Edmonton $18.8M; Strathcona County $2.5M; and City of St. Albert $2.2M.

Vix Technology’s contract includes $31.4M to design and build the Smart Fare technology. Vix Technology will also be responsible to operate and maintain the system on behalf of the participating transit agencies. The remainder of the capital budget covers backend project work and Smart Bus infrastructure for all three municipalities, which is needed to support the Smart Fare system on buses. The Smart Bus infrastructure has already been installed on Edmonton Transit Service and will be added to the St. Albert and Strathcona County transit systems in 2017/2018.

For more information, see Smart Fare web page.

Media contacts:

Tarra Kongsrude
Communications Advisor
City of Edmonton

Juliann Burke
Communications Advisor
City of St. Albert

Sherri-Dawn Annett
Sr. Communications Advisor
Strathcona County
Reader launches naming debate as officials release transit Smart Card details
Fare capping? Daily rates? Edmonton transit officials are set to release details of a new payment scheme made possible by the high-tech Smart Fare cards on their way.

Officials say the cards will be tap-and-go, which should make getting on a bus quicker, and able to be loaded by credit card. Fare capping would ensure no one struggling to make ends meet would ever pay more than the monthly rate, even if they pay day to day because they can’t afford to pay up front.

More details are promised at a news conference early Tuesday afternoon.

In the meantime, one Edmonton resident says transit riders need to starting thinking now about what they want this new pass to be called.

If not, Edmonton might get saddled with something as mundane as the E-pass or as redundant as the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board.

“I fear we’re just going to get the E-Pass and everyone will be patting themselves on their backs for cleverness,” wrote Chris Chan on Postmedia’s urban affairs Facebook page.
Attended the media briefing, some highlights:
- Reloadable "tap" card-based system
- Possible mobile app
- Also accept debit/credit/mobile (e.g., Apple Pay, Android Pay) fare payment
- Registered to an individual, balances managed centrally (e.g., can cancel a lost card and retail balance with replacement)
- Daily and monthly fare caps being considered
- Will be implemented regionally with St. Albert and Sherwood Park (Strathcona County) transit systems
- St. Albert & Sherwood Park both implementing Smart Bus systems integrated with ETS
- Each system will maintain their own fare structures
- Considering distance-based fare system
- Design completed in 2018, trial rollout in fall 2019, full regional rollout in 2020
- Clever name not yet chosen, marketing firm to announce plans for this
Have we heard more on this? The design was supposed to be done in May right?

Considering Calgary's smart card system died it will be great to see one successfully rolled out in Edmonton these systems can really lower the barrier for entry to people who don't usually ride transit and bring the fare system into the 21st century.
@archited I'm no designer, but...


(Magpie photo credit John Breitsch used under Creative Commons BY-NC-SA license -


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