Within a year there could be a major shift in the way people pay their fares to ride on Calgary Transit.
Subject to funding, the city’s transportation committee has approved plans to implement a mobile ticketing system. It would allow riders to use their smart phones to purchase fares.
Riders would use the phone as proof or a valid fare, or scan it on a device on a bus or LRT station platform. The new system could be in use within a year at a cost of $5-million. It would also set the stage for Transit to move to a zone-based fare structure.
Councillor Andre Chabot asked if the new technology could allow time-based fares, reducing prices for those who ride during off-peak hours. “We hear all the time that we’ve got buses running in the middle of the day that are empty or LRTs that are empty in the middle of the day,” Chabot said.
“If we could encourage ridership during those hours at a reduced rate is that something that we’d even contemplate.”
Transportation GM Mac Logan told the committee the new system would allow time-based fares and more.
“As we advance our fare products we can do time-based fares and certainly distance-based fares as well, that’s the ultimate goal.”
Time-based fares could be included when a report on transit fares is brought to city council early next year. Transit is dealing with a $17 million shortfall due to deeply subsidized passes and fewer riders.
Calgary Transit is also asking for $15 million to replace the 230 ticket machines at LRT platforms, the machines will not be able to receive software updates after 2018.
The machines are also 14 years old and were expected to last 10 years.