Montreal

Controversial STM Opus charger will improve over time, chairman says

The chairman of the STM is defending the transit corporation's new at-home card reader after only 4,000 people purchased the device.

Only 4,000 purchased since $16 device unveiled in July

Only about 4,000 people have bought the new STM card reader. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

The chairman of the STM is defending the transit corporation's new at-home card reader after only 4,000 people purchased the device.

Right now, bus and metro users have to buy the device for $16.66 to hook up to their computer to buy tickets from home.

STM chairman Philippe Schnobb said when he first started on the job, he thought the idea was a bit outdated.  

The reader was ridiculed by some on social media when it was announced on July 9 and it doesn't seem to be popular with the STM's 600,000 users.

But Schnobb said the system is temporary and the best option for the moment.

"The major investment that was made to create the platform that will permit the transaction online, so that platform will be needed with any technology," he said.

That new platform cost $7.6 million.

The price tag was shared by all cities in Quebec that use the Opus card system.

Scnhobb said the online platform will remain the same once the STM makes the jump to putting your transit tickets on another device, such as your smart phone.

He said other cities already allow users to load rides on their phones. But he said there are drawbacks.

"You have to wait 24 to 48 hours to use it, which, in my view, is not a good solution as well," he said.

Still, Schnobb said it will be months — and maybe even years — before bus and metro users will be able to use their smart phones for their transit needs.

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