Manitoba

Winnipeg Transit 'Peggo' smart cards finally ready

Winnipeg Transit is ready to roll out the smart cards originally promised by former mayor Sam Katz in 2006.

Seniors can start using cards in July; other transit users have to wait until August

Winnipeg Transit's new electronic reloadable fare cards, called Peggo cards, will be introduced in phases this summer. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

Winnipeg Transit is ready to roll out the smart cards originally promised by former mayor Sam Katz in 2006.

Transit director Dave Wardrop held what he called a "brand launch" on Friday for the city's new Peggo cards, microchip-enabled tap cards that can be loaded and reloaded with transit fares or cash.

Winnipeg seniors can start using the cards on July 4. They'll be offered to full-fare riders and youths on Aug. 8.

"We want to have people take their time, adapt to the system and pick up their cards in a staged period of time," Wardrop said.

The cards will be sold online and at 7-Eleven stores, Shoppers Drug Mart locations and 11 other retailers in parts of the city not represented by the other two retail chains, Wardrop said.

The cards require a one-time $5 fee that will be rebated during an introductory period. Cards may be registered to allow them to be replaced if lost or stolen.
Winnipeg Transit's new electronic reloadable fare cards, called Peggo cards, will be introduced in phases this summer. 0:31

A 75-minute transfer comes with each electronic fare, eliminating the need for paper transfers. They can only be used once every three minutes, to prevent users from handing them to other transit riders as a means of avoiding paying fares, Wardrop said.

"What that does is that avoids the opportunity for people to tap with the pass and because of heavy loading or traffic or bags or parkas, slip the pass to someone behind them and let them slip in on the same pass," he said.

The city will continue accepting cash fares but will stop selling bus tickets by the end of the year.

Cards can be loaded up with passes good for 24 hours, three or five days and one to four weeks, as well as on a monthly or annual basis. Students will also be offered semester passes.

Cards can also be loaded up with cash in increments of $5, $10, $15, $20, $30 and $50, up to a maximum of $200.

The electronic fare-collection system was envisioned a decade ago. Katz announced the cards as part of a six-year, $142-million transit upgrade in 2006.

When technological issues delayed the implementation, some of the initial cash allocation was used to purchase land that was used to build the Northeast Pioneers Greenway, a bike-and-pedestrian trail in North Kildonan, Wardrop said.

The city began planning the system in earnest in 2010 and announced a rollout would take place in 2013.

That did not happen until 2015, when a trial run of the new payment system, involving 100,000 transactions on more than 340 buses, yielded problems that required another year to fix.

"Yes, it did take longer, but any time you're dealing with technology, it's critical to get it right," said city council public works chair Janice Lukes (South Winnipeg-St. Norbert), whose portfolio includes Winnipeg Transit.

To date, the electronic fare-collection system has cost the city $17.7 million to develop. Transit has posted information about it at winnipegtransit.com.

Toronto, Ottawa, Vancouver and Minneapolis have all adopted electronic payment systems for public transit. Wardrop said Winnipeg's system is more advanced, based on the way it functions.

Within minutes of the Peggo launch, some Winnipeggers complained about the technology on Twitter.

About the Author

Bartley Kives

Reporter, CBC Manitoba

Reporter Bartley Kives joined CBC Manitoba in 2016. Prior to that, he spent three years at the Winnipeg Sun and 18 at the Winnipeg Free Press, writing about politics, music, food and outdoor recreation. He's the author of the Canadian bestseller A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba: Exploring Canada's Undiscovered Province and co-author of both Stuck in the Middle: Dissenting Views of Winnipeg and Stuck In The Middle 2: Defining Views of Manitoba. His work has also appeared in publications such as the Guardian and Explore magazine.