The City of Ottawa is joining with transit agencies in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to make its goal of smart card technology a reality by 2010, using “Presto”- the automated fare system developed in partnership with the Government of Ontario. Contactless smart cards are widely used in the transit industry because they allow rapid boarding and have low maintenance costs. Using conservative assumptions, the business case for smart cards showed that the system will cover its costs in six years – and over a ten-year period, the city expects to save more than $6 million.
City partners up for “smarter” transit technology
The City of Ottawa is joining with transit agencies in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) to make its goal of smartcard technology a reality by 2010, using “Presto”- the automated fare system developed in partnership with the Government of Ontario. Participating in this project will bring significant savings for the City, reduce implementation risk and make good use of resources already committed to the GTA Fare System by the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.
Council today approved the City’s participation and contribution towards the system cost, which will be less than the original 2007 commitment of $15 million, thanks to a $7 million subsidy from the Province. The City will also be looking for additional money from the federal government to help with the integration costs of OC Transpo and la Société de transport de l’Outaouais (STO).
“Working with the GTA makes good sense. There is no need to reinvent the wheel when we can take advantage of synergies and others’ experience,” said Mayor Larry O’Brien. “And the potential use of the same card for other municipal services down the line could deliver added benefits from the technology.”
“The smartcard system has to fulfill several essential goals,” said Transit Committee Chair Alex Cullen. “We want to have seamless integration with STO for customers travelling between Ottawa and Gatineau. We also want to accommodate the popular Ecopass program, and integrate with Para Transpo, the current SmartBus system and the O-Train. We can accomplish all these things through this project.”
Contactless smartcards are widely used in the transit industry because they allow rapid boarding and have low maintenance costs. Smartcards will also reduce the incidence of fraud since the verification process will be more effective than paper passes and tickets, and because lost or stolen smartcards can be quickly de-activated across the transit system. The open architecture of the system may also have future potential for other municipal services.
“This is an important step forward towards a solid e-government future for the City of Ottawa,” added College Ward Councillor Rick Chiarelli.
“For the transit customer, the Presto card means more convenience,” said Alain Mercier, Director of Transit Services. “Riders can pre-pay their fare through a variety of channels, including Web, or can use pre-authorized bank debits so it’s hassle-free. This also avoids the monthly trip to a vendor to get a new pass. And because boarding will be faster, they will reach their destination faster.”
Using conservative assumptions, the business case for Smartcards showed that the system will cover its costs in six years – and over a ten-year period, the City expects to save more than $6 million.