Smart Card for Better Transit
I want to let you know of an exciting new initiative that Council is considering for Transit. We have asked Finance to bring forward funding strategies for implementing a Smart Card system; this proposal would come before Council sometime this spring. Smart Card has proven successful in a number of other cities; we are confident that Edmonton will be able to implement this with several beneficial elements.
Smart Card will improve passenger experience in several ways. Tickets, transfers, paper transfers and various types of passes can be greatly reduced when a single Smart Card covers all aspects of transit. They are considered ‘contactless payment devices’ as they can be re-loaded online and no one needs to search for exact change at the bus door. Loading times for buses will improve as the driver has no need to get exact change or issue transfer slips. This will make it a lot easier to be a transit passenger, as no need to keep spare tickets around or buy a full month’s transit pass if that does not suit your transit needs. And if a card is lost it can easily be deactivated by contacting Transit, and a new card issued without losing the funds loaded onto the card.
Use of Smart Cards improves the security of ETS operators by reducing fare disputes and improves bus loading time as there is no need to confirm cash or tickets in the fare box. Less fare evasion will improve Transit’s affordability for everyone.
ETS will be able to plan routes more efficiently and provide travel incentives with a more advanced fare structure. Bonus awards and loyalty programs can help us attract more riders and get more cars off the roads. Transit services can improve as we will be able to plan for passenger numbers and hours far more accurately and can thus structure routes and fares to better serve the needs of Edmontonians. As Edmonton continues to work with the whole Capital Region, the Smart Card system can work well with the larger transit system within the whole Capital Region.
Another transit improvement that Council may look at, much further in the future is to have GPS tracking for all transit vehicles which citizens would be able to access. This project is not under consideration at this time but would, if implemented, work with Open Data to provide better security and information on where each bus or train is located at any given time. GPS ability for Transit will be looked at in the future but as yet is not being considered for funding. Meanwhile we hope to implement Smart Card much sooner. In the big picture of making Edmonton for our future a more livable city we need to continually improve our transit and transportation infrastructure.