Stuart McLean, Regional District of Nanaimo transit select committee chairperson and board vice-chairperson, tests out a new Umo card at the RDN Transit facility on Nov. 16. (Karl Yu/News Bulletin)

Tap-card, mobile app fare payment goes live on buses servicing Nanaimo area

Umo system now live in Victoria, Nanaimo, Cowichan Valley, with Comox Valley coming next

Streamlined bus fare payment is now an option for people taking public transit throughout the Regional District of Nanaimo.

At a media event on Thursday, Nov. 16, officials from B.C. Transit and RDN unveiled the Umo electronic bus fare payment system, allowing transit customers to pay with a reloadable tap-card or mobile phone app via a scanner on buses.

Cards can be picked up at designated vendors and the mobile app is downloadable through Google and Apple app stores.

Tim Croyle, B.C. Transit chief operating officer and vice-president of operations, said Umo will improve transit riders’ experience.

“The Umo mobility app does more than just allow riders to conveniently manage their fare products and pay for their ride,” he said. “It also brings additional travel tools to improve and make the transit experience easier, such as real-time trip planning, maps, alerts and reminders … with the Umo card in hand, our riders have even more flexibility at their disposal.”

There are three options with which customers can add money to their Umo card account: through a vendor, online at http:/ or via phone at 1-877-380-8181. Transit riders can still pay with cash if they so desire.

Stuart McLean, RDN transit select committee chairperson and board vice-chairperson, said the RDN is “excited to provide as many transit connections as possible.”

RDN Transit already has a route connecting Nanaimo and Duncan and work is being done to provide service to the Comox Valley, he said.

“The RDN has signed a memorandum of understanding with B.C. Transit for expansion hours in the next three years, which will include a connection between Route 99 Deep Bay and Route 10 Fanny Bay from the Comox Valley, so it is hoped that those two can provide a connection between the Comox Valley Regional District and [the RDN], which will allow users to, hypothetically, travel all the way from Campbell River to Victoria on B.C. Transit,” said McLean.

Interac, credit card and mobile wallet payment options are in the works, said Ryan Dennis, B.C. Transit director of revenue development.

“We are working with our vendor right now,” he said. “It’s a bit more complicated than the reloadable card that we’re rolling out, but we are working towards getting that to riders in 2024.”

Buses in Comox Valley, Campbell River and Port Alberni are next in line for Umo payment.

B.C. Transit received money for the initiative through the Investing in Canada infrastructure program, with the federal government providing 50 per cent of costs, the provincial government contributing 40 per cent and RDN 10 per cent, stated a press release. In all, upgrading 30 transit systems with the technology carries a price tag of more than $23 million.

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