Transit riders in the Nanaimo region will have to wait until the new year before they can use tap cards or cellphones to pay for bus fares.
Originally scheduled for implementation on Regional District of Nanaimo Transit buses by November, the Umo electronic fare collection system is now anticipated to come online in 2023, said Darren Marshall, transit operations manager, at the RDN transit select committee meeting Tuesday, Sept. 20.
In an e-mail, B.C. Transit, RDN Transit’s funding partner, said implementation is estimated for the early part of 2023, and the delay was due to the complex nature of rolling out the system across the province.
“The project to implement Umo across 30 transit systems and on 900-plus buses is complex and includes several dependencies. Unfortunately, unforeseen supply chain issues have resulted in a slight adjustment to the earlier shared project timeline,” B.C. Transit said.
B.C. Transit added that it is currently testing the Umo service, with the team continuing to “configure our Umo instances for further testing,” and reported that “there have not been any notable issues.”
At the meeting, directors Sheryl Armstrong and Charles Pinker expressed concern about system functionality in light of the mobile and internet service outage that occurred across the country earlier in the summer, but B.C. Transit said it is prepared for that possibility.
“Umo has built-in safeguards that would allow B.C. Transit to continue to operate if there was an internet service outage,” said B.C. Transit.
The Umo rollout will come in two phases, Marshall told the committee.
“The provider … will be offering in Phase 1, an app to purchase fares, reloadable smartcard, which can be reloaded on a website or participating vendor, seamless travel across multiple operating partners, and including inter-regional transit service,” Marshall said. “Cash will remain a payment option. Umo will also offer fare product purchase and usage data … which can be used to inform recommendations on fare policy and service delivery.”
More information will be forthcoming, said B.C. Transit. For more information, go to www.bctransit.com/umo.