One card to ride them all, one system to bind them.
The Alberta NDP government is investing $28 million in a new "seamless" smart fare system for public transit users Edmonton, St. Albert and Strathcona County. Transportation Minister Brian Mason made the GreenTRIP funding announcement in St. Albert on Wednesday.
"The integrated system will make it easier and more convenient for riders to transfer between municipal transit systems and it will also encourage those that would otherwise drive to use transit instead," said Mason, joined by St. Albert MLA Marie Renaud.
The last piece of funding follows investments from the City of Edmonton, City of St. Albert, and Strathcona County for a total of $42 million. The City of Edmonton expects to tender the project this October, with a new cross-jurisdictional system up and running by 2018.
Dorian Wandzura, general manager of transportation for the City of Edmonton, said the funding "has been on the books for a little while" as the city wants to move forward with a "flexible" system that allows for electronic payment.
"It lets people use public transit without their wallet," he explained. "It's the tap on, tap off type equipment. It's about the electronic fare payment, the account-based system so that you can log on from home, top up your card and get on the bus."
Wanduza said a card system could allow for "zone-based fares" where riders pay different fares depending on the length of their trip.
The announcement was met with praise from Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, who added the planned system will be "so much more convenient for riders".
Mason also announced $2.1 million to St. Albert Transit for the purchase of four new electric buses. St. Albert Mayor Nolan Crouse said the buses will be on the road by fall 2016 and will eliminate roughly 100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions.
"For us, the four buses is our way of sticking our toe in the water," said Crouse. "We have about 60 buses total so we're expecting over the years ahead to help move this technology forward in the city of St. Albert and I'm sure it will catch on across the province and beyond."
The Alberta Government has committed $2 billion to the GreenTRIP program by 2020-21, with over $1 billion paid out since 2013. Mason said he's received a draft copy of former Bank of Canada governor David Dodge's infrastructure report and more GreenTRIP news will come "very shortly."