Arc and ride: Edmonton to pilot smart fare system for transit this summer

·2 min read
The Arc card is reloadable, and each ride contributes to a monthly cap. (City of Edmonton - image credit)
The Arc card is reloadable, and each ride contributes to a monthly cap. (City of Edmonton - image credit)

Some transit riders in the Edmonton region will soon be able to pay fares with a new electronic payment system being piloted this summer.

The city is calling it Arc. The new smart fare system involves a loadable card. Users tap their card when they got on a bus or train to pay the fare.

Those who use the Arc card system get the benefit of a daily and monthly cap. Once riders reach the cap, the remainder of their trips for that day or month will be free.

The summer pilot will involve:

  • A selection of adult fare users.

  • A selection of U-Pass students.

  • Transit staff across the region.

The pilot will expand to the rest of adult fare users and U-Pass users in the fall. Beginning in 2022, people using the Ride Transit Program and seniors passes will be able to start using an Arc card.

Arc cards can be used around the Edmonton area too, in Beaumont, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, St. Albert, Spruce Grove and Strathcona County.

Riders can still use cash if they don't have an Arc card.

One feature the city is touting is that the money is not stored on the card itself, it is stored in an Arc account, leaving riders with more peace of mind if they happen to lose the card.

According to Cameron Grayson, director of transit innovations, said the new system will cost about $50 million.

"The City of Edmonton funded approximately $18 million dollars of that, Strathcona County and St. Albert together provided about $5 million. The rest of the money, about $28 or $29 million came from provincial funding via the GreenTRIP fund," Grayson said Tuesday.

Green Transit Incentives Program (GreenTRIP) was launched more than a decade ago to provide one-time funding for municipalities to improve their transit systems.

Edmontonians have been waiting several years for a smart fare system to materialize. The arc system is being implemented more than five years after the City of Edmonton first approved funding for a tap card system.

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