Calgary transit electronic fare project terminated

Calgary transit riders hoping to pay their fare electronically will now have to wait a lot longer to get the service.

Earlier this year, the city launched a pilot program to test the system.

But on Thursday, the city announced the company given the contract has been unable to deliver a product that meets the requirements and timelines set out by the city back in 2010.

The Connect card was supposed to be in use last July.

However, after 350 university students and city employees tested it in daily use and found numerous problems, the rollout was delayed.

Electronic readers for the reloadable cards were installed on every bus and C-Train platform but the problems couldn't be fixed.

Neil McKendrick with Calgary Transit says they decided to terminate the supplier's contract.

"The reader just didn't work. You know, physically it didn't do anything when the customer swiped the card or it gave the wrong information or reacted inappropriately," he said.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says cancelling the contract sends a message to suppliers — that the city won't accept second rate work.

"This is obviously very disappointing. It's mostly disappointing to the passengers who deserve to have this technology in place, but it's gotta be right," he said.

The supplier is responsible for removing its card readers from every bus and train platform and will be paid nothing.

Nenshi says about half a million dollars in staff time was put into the electronic fare card project, expertise that will be useful when a new supplier is found.

The city will now put out a new request for proposals early next year. When the card will go into public use will depend on the new supplier.

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