Smart Fare will allow riders to pay for transit using a variety of methods as early as 2020. Customers will be able to use their credit cards, debit cards, other compatible smart cards and smart devices. The “tap and go” fare payment system will make paying for transit as simple as buying a cup of coffee. It will also make travel across the Edmonton Metropolitan Region easier for customers since one account could be used on all participating transit systems, including Edmonton, St. Albert and Strathcona County.
Transit customers will be able to set up an “account”, which would allow them to purchase day passes, multi-ride packages, monthly passes and other transit fare products. ETS riders will still be able to use cash in the fare box and the vending machines at LRT stations.
Smart Fare vs. Smart Card
Smart Fare technology is very similar to the way you use a bank card with your bank. It uses an account-based set-up, meaning the account credit stays online. If riders lose their Smart Fare card, they can replace it without losing their account credit or fare purchase. Loading the Smart Fare account is instant. Once riders add credit, they can use it right away.
Smart Fare Project Overview
The Regional Smart Fare/Smart Bus project will see an electronic fare payment system implemented for Edmonton, St. Albert and Strathcona County transit systems. The project also includes adding Smart Bus infrastructure for St. Albert and Strathcona County, which is needed to support Smart Fare. Edmonton is already using the Smart Bus system.
In 2015, the Government of Alberta approved GreenTRIP funding for this regional initiative. Edmonton, St. Albert and Strathcona County are also supplying some of the funds for this $51.6M capital budget project.
In spring 2016, LTK Engineering Services was retained as the overall program manager for this project. LTK are experienced in Smart Fare implementation and have strong knowledge of the industry.
In summer 2017, Vix Technology was contracted to design and build the Smart Fare technology over a three-year period. Once the technology is in place, this experienced transit technology company will also be responsible to operate and maintain the system for 12 years on behalf of the participating transit agencies.
Now that the contract has been signed, the system design will begin. The approximate timelines for the project include:
- June 2017: Contract Signed with Vix Technology
- June 2019: System Design Complete
- 2020: System Pilot-Testing and System Launch
In April 2019, Smart Fare technology will be installed on five ETS buses. This preliminary work is being done to determine design and installation requirements before the technology is installed across ETS' fleet. All ETS buses are anticipated to have Smart Fare technology installed by spring 2020 with pilot-testing to begin shortly after.
The Regional Smart Fare System is multi-modal (Bus, LRT, and DATS) and will be deployed by Edmonton Transit Service, St. Albert Transit and Strathcona County Transit.
Smart Fare Allows New Transit Fare Options
Smart Fare is a powerful tool that allows fare payment options that were previously not available or practical to implement. The proposed fare options being considered by Edmonton could significantly improve the transit experience for customers. They include: Fare Capping, Pay-As-You-Go, Distance-based Fares, and Best Fare. These possible fare options will need to be reviewed by Edmonton City Council and undergo customer market research before they are finalized.