Efforts by Calgary Transit to develop an electronic fare card are expected to start again this week after it terminated a contract with a vendor last year, reveal documents obtained by CBC News.

  • Click on the "Listen" button above to hear Scott Dippel's story from the Calgary Eyeopener  

Calgary-based contractor Telvent had designed electronic transit farecards for cities in Mexico, Spain and China — but couldn't get the system to work here.

Neil McKendrick of Calgary Transit says the system failed to function during field tests.

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

City documents show there were problems with the platform readers and the website set up to track transactions for card users.


Documents obtained by CBC News show Calgary Transit is set to renew efforts develop an electronic transit card. (CBC)

The city had paid Telvent about $3.5 million by the time it terminated the contract last November — money it said the company would repay.

Documents also show the total cost of the project ballooned to $13.5 million in the months before the decision was made to cancel it.

Telvent has refused to comment; however, the company stated in documents submitted to the city "it has never been removed from a contract or failed to complete a contract it has been assigned."

Calgary Transit says it will start the process of calling for new bids on the electronic fare card later this week.

Ald. Shane Keating, who sits on the transportation and transit committee, said the new card should allow users to do more than just pay transit fares.

"You can use them for a wide variety of venues, you know recreation, swimming pools, and in some cases some of the cards have been even used in local businesses rather than just city services," he said.

"I think that's what we have to do, is make sure these cards are as up to date and sophisticated as possible."

Officials say there is no word yet on when the system will be available, and it depends on who wins the contract.