BC Transit launches tap payment in Victoria


BC Transit has launched its long-awaited tap payment method onboard buses in the Victoria Regional Transit System.

The new Umo system, pronounced “you-mo,” officially came online in Victoria on Wednesday and allows riders to pay their fares through an app or through reloadable Umo cards.

The free Umo app lets travellers pay for their fare by scanning their unique QR code on new digital validators that have been installed onboard buses.

The app also includes other tools, like real-time map information and the ability to let users create alerts for favourite bus routes, or when funds are running low.

Meanwhile, riders can also opt to buy a reloadable Umo card, which can be reused and continually topped up online, through a designated vendor, or through the Umo call centre at 877-380-8181.

To use a reloadable Umo card, riders just need to tap their card on the new onboard validators.

BC Transit also recommends that people register their Umo cards online to safeguard them in case they get lost, though they do not need to be registered for use.

London Drugs is a provincial vendor for Umo products, though other vendors across Greater Victoria will also sell the cards. A full list of Umo product vendors can be found on the BC Transit website.

Eventually, BC Transit says it will roll out tap payment with debit and credit cards, though no date has been set yet for when that will become available.

New payment options

Over the next few months, BC Transit will phase out its monthly pass system and paper tickets.

The monthly pass system will be replaced by a 30-day pass, which BC Transit says is similar to the monthly pass, except it no longer needs to start on the first day of a calendar month, and instead is active for 30 days after it is purchased.

While paper tickets will be phased out, cash payment will still be an option onboard all BC Transit buses.

Meanwhile, BC Transit will continue to use its “DayPASS” program, and Umo will automatically cap a rider’s fare after the second time they board a bus that day, meaning travellers will never pay more than two times the value of a cash fare for unlimited travel that day.

An Umo customer service call centre also came online Wednesday, and can be reached toll-free at 877-380-8181 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends.

Umo was originally supposed to launch in Victoria in 2022, but was delayed several times.

Future plans

Later this year, BC Transit says Umo will launch in 29 other transit systems across the province, starting on Vancouver Island.

Umo will launch in the following communities in this order:

Cowichan Valley Regional, Regional District of Nanaimo, Comox Valley Regional, Campbell River, Port Alberni Regional, Powell River Regional, Sunshine Coast, Squamish, Pemberton Valley, Central Fraser Valley, Chilliwack, Agassiz-Harrison, Hope Regional, Kamloops, Vernon Regional, Kelowna Regional, South Okanagan-Similkameen, West Kootenay, Cranbrook, Prince George, Quesnel, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Kitimat, Terrace Regional, Skeena Regional, Prince Rupert, Port Edward, Whistler

The Umo system cost $23.2 million to implement across the province, with the federal government covering 50 per cent of the costs, the B.C. government providing 40 per cent, and local government partners funding the remaining 10 per cent.

“The introduction of cashless payment options is great news for transit users across the Capital Region,” said Dan Coulter, Federal Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit.

“By increasing convenience and accessibility we are making it easier for more people to choose transit,” he said.

Adam ChanAdam Chan

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