Calgary Transit relaunches electronic fare card project

Calgary Transit has renewed its partnership with a Spanish company to develop an electronic fare card for riders of its buses and C-Trains.

Telvent rehired after failed $3.5M attempt to develop reloadable Connect card

Spanish firm Telvent has been rehired by Calgary Transit to provide an electronic fare card for riders of its buses and trains. (CBC)

Calgary Transit has renewed its partnership with a Spanish company to develop an electronic fare card for riders of its buses and C-Trains.

Telvent previously held a contract to provide the reloadable fare card.

Here’s hoping we’ll be able to have the Connect card — or as I prefer to call it, 'the prairie oyster' — very, very soon.- Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

But that deal was terminated last year at a cost of $3.5 million after Telvent could not get the Connect card, to work properly during a pilot program.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday the company has made both technical and management changes. Earlier this year, Telvent approached Calgary Transit to say it had resolved the problems and wanted to resume the project.

Nenshi said Calgary Transit management recommended giving Telvent another try, while keeping a very close eye on the project. The city agreed, concluding that it would cost millions of dollars more to start from scratch with a new company.

"As we’ve gone back to the market, we have realized that there are a number of solutions on the market, but that would have required spending a lot more money on this Calgary Transit solution."

Last time around software issues were identified, but beyond that it wasn’t revealed exactly what caused the card glitches during the pilot program.

Available within the year?

When asked, Nenshi said he'd like to see the cards available within a year. 

"Here’s hoping we’ll be able to have the Connect card — or as I prefer to call it, 'the prairie oyster' — very, very soon." 

The company provides similar technology to other major transit systems in China, Mexico and Spain.

A new deal was officially signed Sunday night. 

With files from Scott Dippel/CBC

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