Winnipeg Transit plans to offer passengers something other than the usual five-cent fare hike next year -- the largest package of payment options in the department's history.
On Jan. 1, full cash fares for adults will rise another nickel to $2.50, pending council approval of Winnipeg Transit's latest fare schedule.
But in the fall of 2013, after new electronic fare boxes with smart-card readers are installed on all of Transit's 535 buses, passengers will be offered the opportunity to pay by ride, pay by time period or purchase rides in bulk over the phone, online or in person from transit-card retailers.
The long-awaited electronic fare-collection system will include a 24-hour pass option as well as time passes for three, five, seven, 14, 21 and 28 days. There will also be annual passes, monthly passes and four-month semester passes for post-secondary students.
Individual electronic fares can be loaded onto smart cards or purchased in bulk. Cash fares and bus tickets will continue to be honoured after the new machines are installed, said Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop.
"It's very exciting," the usually reserved Wardrop said of the new fare system, in the works for almost a decade at a total cost of about $15 million. "It offers tremendous flexibility to the consumer... It allows people to tailor their (transit) usage with their expectations."
For example, regular transit users who know they will have a week off for holidays can purchase a 21-day pass and not get dinged for fares they will not use, while a tourist visiting Winnipeg can purchase a 24-hour pass and hop on and off all day and night.
The reusable e-cards can be loaded up to a maximum of $500, while up to 30 e-rides -- essentially, discounted electronic bus tickets -- can be placed on a single card.
Transit plans to charge a one-time $5 fee for the reloadable cards and then refund it once the user registers online.
"We don't want to pass the expense on to the consumer, but we also don't want the consumer to pick up a card and throw it away, which would create a needless expense," Wardrop said.
Winnipeg Transit plans to begin installing the new fare boxes in the spring. The smart cards will go into circulation by the fall, Wardrop said.
Some of the new fare products, such as the semester passes, may not be offered until 2014, as it wouldn't make sense to offer a four-month pass in the middle of a university or college semester.
"More than likely, it will be a phased rollout," Wardrop said. "This is a massive change to our operation and our back office."
2013 transit fares
Conventional fares begin Jan. 1, 2013. Electronic fares go into effect following installation of a new fare-collection system next fall:
Cash fare: $2.50 for adults, $2.30 reduced fare and seniors.
Bus tickets: $2.15 for adults, $1.50 reduced fare and $1.08 for seniors.
E-cash fares (electronic version of single fares, using reloadable cards): $2.30 for adults, $1.75 reduced fare and seniors.
Maximum amount storable on reloadable card: $500
One-time, refundable fee for reloadable card: $5
E-rides (electronic bus tickets, stored on cards): $2.15 adults, $1.50 reduced and $1.08 seniors
Maximum number of e-rides on cards: 30
24-hour pass: $8 for adults, $5.55 reduced and $4 for seniors.
Three-day pass: $16.15 adults, $11.25 reduced and $8.10 seniors.
Five-day pass: $19.35 adults, $13.50 reduced and $9.70 seniors.
Seven-day pass: $21.50 adults, $15 reduced and $10.75 seniors.
14-day pass: $39.80 adults, $27.75 reduced and $19.90 seniors.
21-day pass: $59.15 adults, $41.25 reduced and $29.60 seniors.
28-day pass: $76.35 adults, $61.10 post-secondary students, $53.25 reduced and $38.20 seniors.
Monthly pass: $82.80 adults, $66.25 post-secondary students, $57.75 reduced and $41.40 seniors.
Four-month semester pass: $225.15 for post-secondary students only
Annual pass: $916.20 adults, $733.20 post-secondary students, $639 reduced and $458.40 seniors
-- source: Winnipeg Transit