The days of fumbling with change or racing out to buy bus tickets are coming to an end for Victoria transit riders.
BC Transit is rolling out Umo (pronounced you-mo), a pilot for electronic fare collection in the Victoria Regional Transit System.
Fare validators will start to be installed on buses as the Umo test begins, in order for the company to test the end-to-end components of the platform before it is fully implemented later this spring.
The total cost to implement the system is $23.2 million, with the federal government paying 50 per cent, the B.C. government paying 40 per cent and local governments paying the remaining 10 per cent.
BC Transit employees will be the first to test out the new system before it is expanded to transit riders who are part of the Voice of the Rider customer panel. The pilot will run for several weeks while tests and adjustments are made before it is rolled out system-wide.
Riders who want to be part of the pilot can still sign up to be part of the Voice of the Rider panel.
Once it is rolled out, Umo will replace the current fare payment system. Riders will be able to pay with a mobile app, reloadable card, debit card, credit card, and mobile wallet.
“These new payment methods will increase access to transit by removing barriers such as requiring riders to continually pre-purchase tickets and passes or carry exact change,” BC Transit said in a news release. “The new payment methods will be implemented in two phases, initially enabling the Umo mobile app and reloadable Umo card payments before payment by credit card, debit card, and mobile wallets will be enabled.”
Umo will also introduce changes to the fares, including introducing a 30-Day Pass that will replace the Monthly Pass. It will provide the same benefit of having unlimited long-term fares but riders will no longer have to wait until the start of the calendar month. This pass will cost the same as the current monthly pass.
The system will also introduce a Cash Balance that will allow riders to load money to an account and have money drawn as they take trips. The 30-Day Pass and Cash Balance can be purchased through a web portal or a retailer.
For riders who use the DayPASS, the Umo system will be set up to have the daily fare capped on the second fare and automatically converted to a DayPASS.
“This means regardless of a rider’s chosen Umo product, in transit systems that offer a DayPASS, a rider will never pay more than two times the value of a cash fare for unlimited daily travel,” the news release said. “Cash will continue to be accepted for single ride and DayPASS fares.”
Current fares for BC Transit’s Victoria system are as follows:
- Single-ride: $2.50
- DayPASS: $5
- Monthly pass
- Adult: $85
- Senior (65+): $45
- Youth (18 or under) $45
BC Transit previously announced the electronic fare collection system, with the goal of rolling it out in 2022 but the project was delayed.