EDMONTON -- Edmonton Transit Service (ETS) and its regional transit partners unveiled a new tap payment system on Tuesday.

The smart fare electronic payment system known as Arc will be phased in regionwide from now until 2022, starting with a pilot this summer to ensure a smooth transition to the new state-of-the-art technology.

“Arc symbolizes forging a path between two points, much like how transit connects us to vital services, each other and our region,” Carrie Hotton-MacDonald, the branch manager of ETS, said.

Paper passes and tickets will still be allowed, but by the fall, select riders will be eligible to buy and load funds onto a reloadable card and tap to pay as they get on and off transit, Hotton MacDonald said.

“Any opportunity we have to make it easier for people to access transit is a win,” she said.

Phase 1 will begin at the end of August and apply to all adult fares, U-Pass students and select public catholic schools and transit staff.

The group in Phase 1 make up 60 to 65 per cent of total ridership. Hotton-Macdonald said piloting this group of riders allows them to test the system in a live environment and ensure a seamless onboarding experience.

“The technology itself is constantly being refreshed,” she added.

Phase 2 in 2022 will include discounted fares such as the Ride Transit Program and seniors tickets.

'YOU CAN TRAVEL ANYWHERE IN THE REGION'

Once it’s available, Arc cards can be used on multiple transit agencies including Beaumont, Edmonton, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, and Strathcona County.

“That one card gets you on all systems,” Wade Coombs, the director of transit for Strathcona County, said.

“No matter where you live, you can travel anywhere within in the region.”

“I do think it’s going to help people choose to return to transit,” Hotton-Cameron added.

The project cost more than $50 million. The City of Edmonton funded approximately $18 million, Strathcona County and St. Albert chipped in $5 million and the rest came from provincial funding.

To help encourage frequent use, there will be maximum payment limits on monthly periods, meaning if a rider reaches the max fare for one month on their Arc account, the individual can ride for free for the remaining period.

At the moment, there is no standalone app available but account information can be managed through the website on a number of devices.

To assist with the rollout, Arc card readers have already been installed on most transit agency buses, and smart fare vending machines are being installed in Edmonton LRT stations and regional transit locations, according to ETS.

For more information head to the website