Smart Fare is an account-based electronic fare payment system that will make paying for transit easier and more convenient in the Edmonton region. Transit users in Edmonton, St. Albert, Strathcona County, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Spruce Grove and Beaumont will all benefit from the same payment system. The “tap on/off” fare payment system will be introduced region-wide in phases starting in fall 2020.
A Phased Approach
In the first phase, passengers will be able to load value into a special account and use a transit smart card to “tap on/off” any transit system in the region. Riders can take advantage of fare capping, where transit trips are paid for one trip at a time; up to a daily or monthly maximum amount. 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.
In later phases, riders will be able to take advantage of “open payments” using their credit card, debit card or compatible device to ”tap on/off” the transit systems in the Edmonton metropolitan region.
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 is 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 for operating and maintaining the system for 12 years on behalf of the participating transit agencies.
In 2019, Smart Fare validators were installed on a handful of regional partner buses. This preliminary work is being done to determine design and installation requirements before the technology is installed across the participating regional bus fleets. When the fare validators are in operation later in 2020, they will be used by customers to tap fare payment cards when entering and leaving a bus or LRT station.
By the end of spring 2020, all buses are anticipated to have Smart Fare technology installed with pilot-testing to begin afterwards.
Smart Fare Allows for New Transit Fare Options
Smart Fare also allows municipalities to consider a range of progressive fare options to make transit more affordable for many customers.
The proposed fare options being considered by Edmonton could significantly improve the transit experience for local 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 before they are finalized.