BC Transit is in the process of upgrading to allow digital payment options on Greater Victoria buses but it will take time.
In 2018, the federal government announced that B.C. would receive more than $136-million in funding from the Canadian government, the provincial government and from various local governments. The funding would allow five transit upgrade projects to be carried out across the province including adding more than 100 new buses to the BC Transit fleet, building 100 new bus shelters and equipping almost 800 buses with GPS tracking.
In February 2019, the transit company began rolling out GPS tracking technology in Greater Victoria to allow passengers to track their buses in real-time through their cell phones.
As part of the upgrades, $21 million was allotted for adding a cashless fare system to the BC Transit fleet.
This will permit transit-users to use bank cards or phones to pay for bus tickets, explained Coun. Susan Brice, Saanich councillor and chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission.
Greater Victoria is set to be the first region to see the digital payment options on-board BC Transit buses, but eventually, the whole fleet will be equipped, Brice noted.
In January 2019, the transit company issued a request for proposals for digital fare technology and its installation on buses, explained Jonathon Dyck, spokesperson for BC Transit. In April, the tender was cancelled due to issues staff found with the requirements listed in their request. Dyck emphasized that staff will be reviewing and reworking the request and it will be reissued “at a later date.”
Initially, BC Transit had hoped to have the digital fares installed in 2020, but the cancellation of the initial request for proposals will impact the timeline, Dyck said. Once the new request for proposals is complete, an estimated completion date will be clearer.
“We know it’s a project customers have been asking for and BC Transit wants to work on it,” Dyck said. “We’re looking forward to getting it in place but are taking the time to get it right.”
Dyck emphasized that physical tickets and cash payment options will not be taken away as some patrons prefer those methods of payment.