Calgary Transit still trying to find suitable electronic fare solution

Calgary Transit is still trying to find a way to allow riders to use pre-loaded fare cards on its trains and buses, after an earlier effort was cancelled.

After the failure of the Calgary Connect system, city is looking at newer technologies

The Calgary Connect system turned out to be unreliable, resulting in an ongoing multi-million dollar lawsuit. (CBC)

Calgary Transit is still trying to find a way to allow riders to use pre-loaded fare cards on its trains and buses, after an earlier effort was cancelled.

The Calgary Connect card, which was supposed to allow users to swipe their card to ride, didn't work reliably and resulted in Calgary Transit filling a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the supplier. 

That case is ongoing. 

New technologies

Transit director Doug Morgan said Transit is exploring new ideas, and staff will soon travel to Vancouver, Salt Lake City and Philadelphia to see how cards work in those cities. 

"It's moving quite quickly to where people are paying with their phone, paying with their own credit cards, so we're also in contact with the City of Edmonton, who has a contract out currently for a smartcard system," he said. 

"We think the technology is at the point where this new breed is really going to provide great value to Calgarians. We just want to make sure it's sustainable, deliverable and at the right value for us."

'Incredible sinks of money'

Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he's a tech guy, but any new system must show real benefits to transit riders for the city to look at this again.

"And when we look at the incredible sinks of money that these projects have been, for example in British Columbia and in Ontario, I really, really have to be convinced that if we're going to invest money in transit that that's the right place to invest it," he said.

City council will have to approve any transit proposal. 

With files from Scott Dippel