The new R-Card
Regina Transit goes 21st-century
Tired of fumbling over loose change or losing bus tickets when using city transit? Well, Regina Transit is, so they are eliminating paper tickets and bus passes, and replacing them with the R-Card.
As of Jan. 1, transit officials stopped accepting paper tickets as a method of payment when riding the bus. Instead, people will have to purchase pre-paid electronic chip cards that are designed to make riding the bus faster and more convenient. It’s as easy as just placing the card over a reader and, after a few seconds, the card has been read. Through the “Smart Technology” of the chip, people will be able to view their remaining balance, the expiry date on the monthly pass, and they will be able to transfer buses within the hour without being charged twice.
Kim Onrait, manager of operations and services for Regina transit, said that this technological advancement has the city excited.
“We are excited due to the fact that it lets us capture data … it can capture data about the riders, who is travelling on them, when and where”. Onrait explained the city has been researching this technology for about a year and a half and are happy to have introduced the service. His hope is people will seize this opportunity and more will give public transportation a try.
“We are fairly confident that it will increase ridership, our number one focus is to take the information coming out of the system and put the right services in the right places. As the system gets more efficient then ridership should increase”. While this technology is not exclusive to Regina, Onrait said the city is pleased with the timing of this new service.
While the cards add convenience for transit riders, the information collected with these cards could help the city make the transit system more efficient over time.
“Because ridership can be seasonal we want to make sure we have a full cycle of data before making major changes. We might see small changes in the meantime,” said Onrait. He also said that there is potential to modify existing routes, add new ones, or even reduce the frequency of some routes based on demand.
The R-card comes in monthly passes or in reloadable versions. They are available for purchase at various transit kiosks around the city, but come with a five dollar fee loaded with two free rides. If cards are damaged or lost there is that same fee for replacement that doesn’t come with rides. The remaining balance from previous cards can be transferred over so that people don‘t lose what they have already paid. Onrait believes the fee is necessary because it “covers off the purchase of the card and administration costs. The first one issued will have two free rides which is the equivalent to that five dollars.” People who still have existing paper tickets can exchange them for a credit of equivalent value.
After catching up with students on campus, the R-card has gotten a lot of positive feedback.
Rik Anaka, an undeclared student at the university, said, “I think it’s easier than before, especially than the ticket system.”
Lisa Wang, a third-year business administration student, likes the idea that the card can recognize a transfer. “The transfer is more convenient than using a piece of paper … [The R-card] is more convenient to use.”
Danni Tunney, a sixth-year biology and psychology student said, “Truthfully, I really like it. It’s nice not having to worry about tickets.” She added, “Originally, I was against the fee, but they give you the money back in rides. My friend lost her card and they kept a registry of her. I don’t mind paying a small registration fee if that means I don’t need a new pass.”
With bus riders dealing with the change, Regina transit hopes the R-card it will steer buses towards a more effective transit system. It might even make the world a little bit greener with more choosing to bus it instead of driving.