Kelowna council defers decision on new transit fare package

Council pans transit plan

Kelowna city council had some harsh words for portions of BC Transit's new electronic fare package presented to it Monday afternoon.

BC Transit plans to implement its new UMO system on 30 transit systems across the province before the end of the year.

The electronic system will enable transit riders to pay for fares using a mobile app, reloadable smart cards and ultimately tap enabled debit and credit cards, according to transit service coordinator Mike Kittmer in his report to council.

Other changes will also be made, including changing the monthly pass to a 30 day pass allowing riders to purchase a pass at any time.

But, it was two other proposed changes that stuck in the craw of councillors.

One was a new transfer system where riders would be required to use a transfer just once for the next scheduled bus instead of multiple times over a 90 minute period.

The other, placing a one-year expiration date on certain fare products such as a 10-ride pass.

Many on council took up the charge from users who complained about the effect the change in transfer policy would have on their daily commute.

"Regionally, if someone lives in Glenrosa and works at the mall and requires three buses to get there, technically with this policy they wouldn't be able to use the single transfer? asked Coun. Loyal Wooldridge.

"Correct, those longer multi-transfer trip like that would require transition to a different far product type or to pay again after the ride," said Kittmer.

Wooldridge suggested deferring a decision on the report until such time as BC Transit can investigate and report back.

"I am not comfortable to approve this as is," added Wooldridge.

"If that is the recommendation council chooses, that's what we will communicate back to BC Transit...and they will look at what the implications are from the implementation perspective within UMO," said Kittmer.

"They will have to come up with an alternative or a better explanation of what those technological ramifications may be."

Coun. Rick Webber expressed concerns over some fare products such as the 10-ride pass coming with an expiry date.

"B.C. has rules about gift cards not expiring. If you had a package of 10, what good does it do the public to have those expire if you haven't used them in a year," said Webber, who also suggested that just because something works in a bus system somewhere else doesn't mean it will work here.

Council unanimously deferred further discussion on the UMO fare system pending additional information from BC Transit on impacts of the fare transfer system and expiry dates.

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