Mobile app payment for Halifax Transit could take months

Halifax Transit could be months away from having a mobile app payment option to pay for a bus or ferry ride.

On Tuesday, the regional council voted unanimously to award UK-based service fare collector Masabi to provide the bus and ferry service.

“It’s a great day. It’s something we’ve all wanted to see for a while,” Coun said. Wayne Mason.

Marc Santilli, director of technical services for Halifax Transit, told the regional council that pay-per-app could be in place in four months or sooner.

“Our goal is to get this in place as quickly as possible. Realistically I think it will be at least two months, but we will push as fast as possible,” Santilli said.

Debit and credit option coming soon

The first phase of implementation will allow a transit user to purchase a ticket or pass through the app. When they want to use it, they will activate it and display it on the screen and show it to the driver, in the same way as they would for a paper transfer.

The next step will be on-board validators – a device that would scan the application. Santilli said it was about nine months after the first phase.

Santilli said after that, the next step would be to open payment by tapping on debit or credit cards. He said Halifax Transit was also considering reloadable plastic cards. He said the reloadable plastic cards might not be needed if enough people download the app.

“Debit or credit to pay might be a more ideal option for us, as it would eliminate the need for a lot of the infrastructure needed for smart cards,” Santilli said, adding that adding cards Refillable plastic bottles would require vending machines and an infrastructure where people would need to refill them.

Concern raised for the vulnerable population

City Council initially approved plans to move to a mobile app in July 2020, with the goal of being cashless by 2025.

At the time, several councilors were concerned about how people who don’t have smartphones or don’t use debit and credit cards would access public transit.

Mason echoed those concerns on Tuesday, saying paper tickets ensure fares are accessible to everyone. He asked the staff to find solutions.

“But it’s still a good first step and I’m really glad he’s here,” Mason said.

According to the staff report, the app and on-board validators will cost the municipality $1,304,106 and maintenance and support services worth a total of $243,936 over five years.

Lance B. Holton