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Smart Bus Initiative


Enviro_1203
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I saw this interesting bit in a Edmonton Insight Community survey:

"Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) is conducting a customer research exercise that requires customers to use their mobile device to complete a series of tasks and questions related to the customer experience while using transit. ETS is looking to recruit 25 individuals to complete the exercise and is asking members of the Insight Community to consider participating if you meet the following criteria: 

• Currently use Edmonton Public Transit Bus or LRT and/or will use transit in the month of May 2021
• Have access to a mobile device that can connect to a data network capable of loading webpages
• Loading an application (app) on your phone 
• Able to complete activities as you complete your transit trip. 

The exercise will be completed on your own time and does not require in-person interaction beyond the use of public transit. Financial compensation of $75 will be offered to participants. The exercise will be completed in partnership with a third party (Pivotal Research Inc.) and your contact information will be shared with Pivotal Research Inc. to facilitate contact with participants."

I wonder what they're going to be testing. I imagine it's not related to the SmartFare pilot, since credit card/phone tapping wasn't planned for until a later phase of the project.

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On 4/19/2021 at 5:50 PM, MatthewB said:

I wonder what they're going to be testing. I imagine it's not related to the SmartFare pilot, since credit card/phone tapping wasn't planned for until a later phase of the project.

Cool, thanks for sharing that!

I would have thought that it was for SmartFare as they are looking to roll it out soon (at discounted prices too!), and the requirement to install an application seems about right for that. The buses already have the readers.

The "original" smartcard pilot with the Cubic Systems equipment was limited to a small group as well, involving University of Alberta students.

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14 hours ago, A. Wong said:

Cool, thanks for sharing that!

I would have thought that it was for SmartFare as they are looking to roll it out soon (at discounted prices too!), and the requirement to install an application seems about right for that. The buses already have the readers.

The "original" smartcard pilot with the Cubic Systems equipment was limited to a small group as well, involving University of Alberta students.

You got my hopes up with that, so I decided to call ETS and see if they would tell me anything. This is what I learned:

1. This is a customer experience survey, not something related to a project like SmartFare or the new routes. ETS apparently just wants to collect rider feedback as they're using the system, rather than later on.

2. Most of their projects are still on hold due to Covid-19, including SmartFare. Interestingly, she also said that the electric bus program has been put up in the air because of Covid. Although we have 40 electric buses (and might be getting 20 more), the original plan was for ETS to replace all of their buses with electric buses "as soon as possible, perhaps within 2-3 years". Because of all of the uncertainty presented by Covid, ETS isn't yet sure if they can go ahead with this, or to what degree. More generally, they don't know whether they can proceed with any of their projects this year, including SmartFare.

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3 hours ago, MatthewB said:

the original plan was for ETS to replace all of their buses with electric buses "as soon as possible, perhaps within 2-3 years". Because of all of the uncertainty presented by Covid, ETS isn't yet sure if they can go ahead with this, or to what degree. 

What a load of bullshit. That was never the plan. The plan was to stop buying replacement buses as diesels, and buy electrics instead. In the mean time, a long term contract with New Flyer was signed for diesels. We're into the options years and this point, so no obligation, but they can buy diesels for probably another 6 years without tendering from New Flyer.

One problem is that the whole electric bus program for the first 40 buses has been going on for so long now, we've already had one batch of diesels delivered that could have theoretically been electric. And there will be more.

There's other constraints, like the electrical infrastructure available to a garage. Right now, the easiest way to get more electrics is to build out the infrastructure at Andrews further, and the future Ferrier North, which is only I. The early stages at this point.  

Unless I can back it up with council docs or personal spottings, I don't believe what I hear. But then that's 20 years of listening to their them talking.

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36 minutes ago, M. Parsons said:

What a load of bullshit. That was never the plan. The plan was to stop buying replacement buses as diesels, and buy electrics instead. In the mean time, a long term contract with New Flyer was signed for diesels. We're into the options years and this point, so no obligation, but they can buy diesels for probably another 6 years without tendering from New Flyer.

One problem is that the whole electric bus program for the first 40 buses has been going on for so long now, we've already had one batch of diesels delivered that could have theoretically been electric. And there will be more.

There's other constraints, like the electrical infrastructure available to a garage. Right now, the easiest way to get more electrics is to build out the infrastructure at Andrews further, and the future Ferrier North, which is only I. The early stages at this point.  

Unless I can back it up with council docs or personal spottings, I don't believe what I hear. But then that's 20 years of listening to their them talking.

Sorry about that, I'm not trying to spread any misinformation here. I'm dissapointed that this call was such a waste of time, and I really appreciate you clearing things up :)

Lesson learned!

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On 4/22/2021 at 3:57 PM, MatthewB said:

Sorry about that, I'm not trying to spread any misinformation here. I'm dissapointed that this call was such a waste of time, and I really appreciate you clearing things up :)

Lesson learned!

Hey no sweat -- I'm impressed that you got such a detailed response out of them! Accurate or not, it is always interesting to keep up with all of the "inside" speculation and rumors ;)

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 4/24/2021 at 4:51 PM, Catherine Wilkins said:

GOOD AFTERNOON MATTHEW B

https://www.edmonton.ca/programs_services/public_engagement/edmonton-insight-community.aspx

This is a compliment.  You will make a very good scribe (newspaper reporter).  Continue to gather peoples opinions, read minutes of meetings, consider the source and most important check and double check the facts.  When your source of information is misinformed, please set those comments aside.  Your abilities, writing skills will stand you in good stead later in life Matthew.  Please understand there are very well informed, intelligent, knowledgeable members of this group who have contributed their thoughts over the past decade.  Many of the members are employees who have access to inside information.  Most of their information they post is very accurate.  Keep up the good work Matthew and we look forward to your continued contributions to this discussion board.

No worries, I respect reporters enough that I wouldn't take this in any way other than a compliment haha. Thanks for the kind words and advice, I appreciate them a great deal. I'm grateful that I can learn from you folks and get some unique insights about these topics :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

According to the city webpage:

 

"Phase 1 of Smart Fare will launch starting fall 2021:

 

-Adult fare users

-U-Pass students

-Select public and catholic schools, and

-Transit staff across the region

Phase 2 will launch in 2022 and include discounted fares, such as the Ride Transit Program, Seniors Annual Pass, among others.

 

Starting this fall, the identified groups will be able to purchase a reloadable smart card (from large retail networks or at Smart Fare Vending Machines throughout the transit network), load money onto that card, and then tap on/tap off as they ride our system."

 

The page goes into greater detail. It's great to see a detailed timeline, hopefully they can stick with it!

 

I checked Fort Sask's website, and it says that  this is being conducted region wide!

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  • 3 weeks later...

I had a good email exchange with Anthony Dionigi, the head of Fort Sask Transit. He said that FST will probably not be ready in time for the start of the pilot. Equipment installation is progressing well and their vending machine and point of sale systems* should arrive in July or August, but the process was delayed a pretty significant amount by the Canada-US border closure, which prevented technicians from coming into Canada for a while. Thankfully though, they don't need to wait until the pilot is officially over to join the system. It's not officially decided that they'll miss the start of the pilot, but Anthony is hoping for FST to adopt smart fare by the end of 2021, or in early 2022.

*The vending machine will be located at the Dow Centennial Centre (DCC), which is near the park and ride. The two point-of-sale systems will be located at the from desks of the DCC and city hall.

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Arc Card unveiled; Smart Fare machines turned on for pilot testing


47383836_ScreenShot2021-05-13at12_23_05PM.thumb.png.55b4b2fa25619daaf5c43cb53311319e.png


June 8, 2021


Today, Edmonton Transit Service and regional transit partners mark an exciting step towards implementation of the smart fare electronic fare payment system, with the unveiling of Arc, the brand new “brand” look and feel for the upcoming smart way to pay for and ride transit.

“We’re excited to introduce the Arc brand and turn on the Arc card validators on our transit system. These are important program milestones as we continue to modernize transit service throughout the greater Edmonton region,” said Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, Branch Manager of Edmonton Transit Service. “Arc symbolizes forging a path between two points, much like how transit connects us to vital services, each other and our region.”

Once available, Arc cards can be used as electronic fare payment on participating transit agencies including Beaumont, Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, St. Albert, Spruce Grove and Strathcona County. Customers also have the option to continue to pay with cash, paper passes and paper tickets.

Arc will be thoughtfully pilot tested and rolled out in phases to ensure a seamless onboarding experience for future customers. This summer, the first pilot testers from across the region will include a selection of Adult regular fare users, U-Pass users and transit staff.

The phased introduction of Arc this fall will be available for Adult regular fare users and post-secondary students who use U-Pass. Phase 2 will launch in 2022 and will be an option for a wider range of customer groups, including those who use the Ride Transit Program and seniors passes.

Customers will get access to Arc’s unique product features. This includes having payments count towards a daily or monthly fare cap (a maximum amount that can be paid over the period), and adding only as much money as they want to their Arc account at one time. Another benefit is the money is stored in an Arc account, not on the card itself, which brings peace of mind if the registered card is lost or stolen. Once money is added, the card can be used immediately for a trip on transit.

To support the rollout, tap on/tap off Arc card readers have been already installed on most participating transit agency buses and smart fare vending machines are being installed in Edmonton LRT stations and key regional transit locations. These machines will accept cash, debit or credit card payment and will remain off until the pilot testing begins this summer.

Customers can find timely updates and information at edmonton.ca/SmartFare or participating regional transit web pages.

For more information:
edmonton.ca/SmartFare
strathcona.ca/smartfare
stalbert.ca/city/transit/fares/


Media contact:
Rowan Anderson
Communications Advisor
Communications and Engagement
780-690-1605

You can sign up here to be part of the summer pilot.

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