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New fare system could be coming to City of Regina transit this summer

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Users of Regina's public transit system may see some changes around how they pay fares this summer.

During council’s executive committee meeting on Wednesday, Kurtis Doney, deputy city manager of city operations, said the replacement (which was approved as part of 2023 budget funding) would enhance customer service.

“There’s more focus on accessibility by using commonplace media such as credit cards, debit cards, smart phones and smart cards,” he said.

If approved, the launch of the new fare system will come into effect on Aug. 1, 2024, which will include a cash box for coins and paper bills, ability to use credit and debit cards, replacement of the R-Card with a new smart card, a web portal for online reloading, a mobile app, and fare capping.

Fare capping would allow riders to load fares onto their app or card, with the system deducting the fare depending on how much the rider has used in the month. After a certain number of rides, the fare will be 'capped,' and all rides taken after that will be free.

“Regina transit will simplify its current fare structure by making purchasing fares more accessible, to making fares more equitable, and to eliminate individual practices that were developed in the limitations of the previous fare collection system,” he said.

For example, an adult who takes the bus during the day would pay $2.90 per ride from their account until the third ride, with any ride after that being free. They would pay that way until they spend $88 in value for the month. After they reach 31 rides in the month, all rides after for the month would be free.

The current adult fee for one ride is $3.25, so the system would allow riders to save money by paying less per ride.

Doney said there would be an estimated loss of revenue of $100,000 during the first year until the fare capping incentive gains traction.

“However, once that starts to gain more traction, and its residents realize the convenience of fare capping, we expect ridership to increase and increasing revenue to approximately 250,000 per year over the next few years,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Mayor Sandra Masters said there are benefits to the fare capping system.

“In addition to not just university and international students, but the ability to loan online to pay with your smartphone to pay with credit or debit card actually makes transit in some respects much more accessible,” she said. “Then again, that fare capping idea is important overall for the affordability of transit.”

“The idea is we're trying to get folks again moving into technology because it will be to their ultimate benefit.”

The replacement of the fare system was funded in the 2023 budget with $1.7 million and is expected to stay on budget. The fare changes won’t have an impact on number of employees.

The transit fare bylaw changes will be brought to city council on March 6 for final approval.

Other topics discussed at Wednesday’s council meeting were building leases, as well as lot grading and drainage.

Meanwhile, the Globe Theatre’s $1.9 million funding request has been tabled to the March. 13, 2024.

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