Automated bus fare boxes due in 2013

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Forget having to scrounge for the correct change to hop on a city bus.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 14/07/2011 (4044 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Forget having to scrounge for the correct change to hop on a city bus.

In 18 months, Winnipeg Transit buses will have electronic machines that will make sure you’ve deposited the right amount. And if you’d rather pay with plastic, you can visit a kiosk or log on to the Internet to put money on a smart card so you don’t have to count coins at all.

Winnipeg Transit director Dave Wardrop said the revamped bus fare collection system will be rolled out at the start of 2013, and will make it more convenient for passengers and help the city get rid of people trying to shortchange them or hitch a free ride.

Winnipeg’s current bus fare system relies on paper-based tickets, passes and transfers. A city report says passengers can avoid paying fares by depositing insufficient change into the fare box, using expired transfers and forging tickets and passes. It’s difficult to estimate how much money transit loses from fare evasion, but experts estimate it is as much as five per cent of the operator’s revenue.

“This is a quantum shift in how Winnipeg Transit will do business,” Wardrop said this morning. “It’ll be a big change for customers and it’ll be a big change for Winnipeg Transit.”

The move is part of a bigger transit overhaul that was identified as a need by city council five years ago.

Existing fare boxes have been out of production for decades, which makes it difficult for transit crews to get replacements or spare parts if something breaks.

Wardrop said the project was delayed because of other priorities in the department, including rapid transit and other ugprades to city buses such as video surveillance and air conditioning.

At a special meeting this morning, council’s public works committee approved an additional $2.5 million to complete the upgrade to transit fare collection boxes, bringing the total cost of the project to about $17 million. Winnipeg Transit said the additional funds were needed due to market conditions and the fact the department needs to hire three new employees to maintain the new equipment.

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca

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