Manitoba

Winnipeg Transit scraps tickets for tokens on buses

Winnipeg Transit is replacing bus tickets with coin-type tokens as part of its upgrades to the fare collection system.

The tokens, made at the Winnipeg-based Canadian Mint, have an estimated life span of 20 years

Winnipeg Transit is replacing bus tickets with coin-type tokens as part of its upgrades to the fare collection system. 1:26

Winnipeg Transit is replacing bus tickets with coin-type tokens as part of its upgrades to the fare collection system.

The tokens are slightly smaller than a Toonie, have a Winnipeg Transit logo embossed on them and are being introduced into the system immediately.

The decision follows the introduction last month of the Peggo smart cards.

For the tokens, Transit consulted with social service agencies and school divisions and discovered a large volume of bus tickets were being handed out to people with certain needs.

The adult fare Winnipeg Transit token. (City of Winnipeg)

"One of the challenges we had when going to a smart card was you aren't going to have that one-ride opportunity, so in consultation we developed tokens," said Transit's Jonathan Borland.

Borland said the tokens are just starting to be distributed to the agencies and schools.

The news is a relief to organizations such as the Manitoba Psychiatric Association, whose members give bus tickets to patients with serious mental health issues.

"Many of our patients are struggling with housing, finding food on a regular basis. For them to be able to maintain a card, to put money on it in advance, to be able to keep track of it — we foresee a lot of challenges," said Dr. Maria Bronson.

Drs Maria Bronson and Leonard Schwartz relieved tokens will be available to mental health patients. (Sean Kavanagh)

The president of the MPA, Dr. Leonard Schwartz, added: "We are relieved to see they are bringing in the tokens."

The tokens, manufactured at the Winnipeg-based Canadian Mint, have an estimated life span of 20 years. Transit ordered 350,000 youth tokens and 250,000 full fare tokens for a total cost of $387,170.

Transit won't phase out the current paper tickets until later this year and then only after publicly letting riders know they can swap the tickets for the new tokens, Borland said.