#1Aug 28th, 2008
Thu, August 28, 2008Transit smartens up with new card
By LAURA CZEKAJ, SUN MEDIA
City transit users will have a smart new way of paying their fare starting in 2010.
The smartcard system got the final stamp of approval after it was announced yesterday that OC Transpo will be equipping its vehicles with the technology over the next year.
The merits of the electronic fare collection system on public transit had been considered by council for months before it approved a $14 million investment in the project. The provincial government has added another $7 million into the pot, making the total project worth $21 million.
"This investment is another step forward for Ottawa," said Mayor Larry O'Brien. "Both STO and OC Transpo are moving ahead on very exciting transit initiatives."
The system allows passengers to rid themselves of bulky pocket change or carry tickets in exchange for the card which will enable them to load it up with money to pay for the fare, or use it as a bus pass.
The cards can be configured as a pass, or loaded up through the Internet, over the phone, or by pre-authorized debit payments.
The system has been in use in Gatineau for a decade and has proven successful, according to transit representatives.
The existing STO cards and the incoming OC Transpo cards will be programmed to work on transit vehicles in both systems, allowing for a "seamless" transfer of passengers through the entire network, said O'Brien.
The cards would also be adaptable for use with any future additions to the transit system, such as light rail.
"What this smartcard is all about is bringing transit and the use of transit into the 21st century for the City of Ottawa," said Jim Watson, Ontario minister of municipal affairs and housing.
The cards puts the city on the proper path towards greater use of technology to streamline municipal services, said Stittsville-Kanata West Coun. Shad Qadri.
He would like to see the electronic payment service put into greater use for other city services, such as swimming or library use.
"I would like this card, in the long term, to be one card that could be used at any city facility," said Qadri.
In the short term, he is pleased with the card and its capabilities of connecting the Ottawa and Gatineau transit systems.
Similar cards are also used widely in Greater Toronto.
SMARTCARDS FOR DUMMIES
How does the smartcard work?
- A dollar value is loaded onto the card.
- Wave the card at a reader as you board the bus, O-Train and future rail lines.
- The fare is calculated and amount deducted from your card.
- When the card value gets low, riders can add to it online, or at a vendor.
The "smart card" ,the way of paying your bus fare -has bin used in China for at least past 10 years .