New Brunswick

Codiac Transpo buses to get $2.4M technology overhaul

Moncton city council approved spending more than $2 million to replace fare boxes and introduce a new computer system for Codiac Transpo buses.

Upgrades will allow new fare payment methods, says the general manager of the transit system

Angela Allain, general manager of Codiac Transpo, says upgrades to buses will allow mobile phone payments in coming years. (Shane Magee/CBC News)

Moncton city council approved spending up to $2.4 million on a new computer system and fare boxes for Codiac Transpo's fleet of 40 buses.

The upgrades will allow new fare payment methods.

Angela Allain, general manager of the transit system serving Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview, said she hopes riders will be able to use credit cards, debit or their cellphones to pay while boarding within two years.

Transit riders can already pay the $2.50 fare through an app called HotSpot Transit or with cash.

Replacement parts are no longer available for the three-decade-old boxes that can be tricked with tokens, counterfeit coins or foreign currency.

"That should improve revenue," Allain said of the new boxes. She said American coins will still be accepted. 

"But fundamentally, [the change] will be to provide what customers are used to having today and that it's improved and sustainable."

The boxes will be replaced over the next year along with a new computer dispatch system at a cost of $2,410,686, which includes tax and a $20,000 contingency. 

A Codiac Transpo bus stopped in the parking lot of Peoples Park Tower in Moncton. (Shane Magee/CBC)

TripSpark Technologies was awarded the work by council after a request for proposals process. 

The cost to the city was offset by more than $660,000 provided by the federal and provincial governments, and $120,000 from Dieppe and Riverview.

Coun. Charles Léger called it a large expense, but one that comes with benefits for Codiac and transit riders.

It represents a major technological upgrade for the transit system, allowing buses to be more accurately tracked and providing users more information.

Codiac Transpo is purchasing a new computer dispatch system that will allow the transit system to collect data about popular stops and routes. (CBC)

An app will allow people to get alerts about changes on specific routes or the entire system, such as detours and delays.

"It's a much more in-depth system than we have today," Allain said. "We have a quasi-system like this with a GPS, but it's quite old and not as reliable."

The change will also allow the integration of surveillance cameras inside and outside the bus, which Allain said could help investigations if the bus is involved in a crash.

The computer system will also allow an automated audio and visual announcement system.

No new staff needed

Allain said Codiac doesn't plan to introduce a reloadable transit card system, such as Presto in Toronto or OPUS in Montreal.

The new computer dispatch system will produce reports on revenue by date, time, bus route, bus stop and more. A city staff report states that will allow Codiac to determine the most profitable routes, stops, preferred payment types and which routes have the most transfers.

The new technology won't require hiring any new staff, she said.

The new fare boxes are expected to last about 20 years.