RDN Transit riders are expected to be able to pay their bus fare with transit cards or cellphones by the end of the year.
B.C. Transit, RDN Transit’s funding partner, announced a deal in January with Cubic Transportation System Inc., purveyors of the Compass Card payment option for Lower Mainland buses, to offer more modern payment options to transit operators across the province. The new technology is scheduled to be adopted in Nanaimo region buses in November, according to an RDN transit select committee report.
Current coin boxes are scheduled to be replaced with a system allowing customers to use a pre-loaded transit card or an Umo phone app initially, although it will still be possible to pay cash, Darren Marshall, RDN manager of transit operations, told the committee at its March 10 meeting. Debit and credit cards and mobile wallet options will be available in the future, he said.
Marshall told the News Bulletin the move is necessary as the current fare boxes are becoming obsolete.
“They’re end of life and you can’t get parts for them,” he said.
RDN director and committee member Don Bonner, a transit user, said the move will be beneficial as it will make it easier for people to board and disembark from buses. Lowering barriers for transit users will eventually lead to increased ridership, he said.
“The idea of just being able to walk on a bus, tap your card and then sit down, it’ll get rid of one more reason why people aren’t using the buses,” said Bonner.
The Umo system will be first utilized in Victoria as part of a pilot project, which is scheduled to launch in August.