City council is driving forward with an electronic fare collection system for Kelowna Regional Transit.
Umo (you-mo) will allow riders to pay with a mobile app, credit card, debit card, reloadable smart card, or mobile wallet, and is expected to go live in late 2023.
Council had concerns about the program when it first had a look at it in February and sent it back to BC Transit for review. Changes were made and presented to council at its May 8 regular meeting.
One of the changes includes replacing the calendar-based monthly pass with a more flexible 30-day pass.
It can be purchased any time during the month and remain valid for 30 days rather than expiring at the end of the month.
Also, pre-purchased packs of 10 rides (previously tickets), or portions thereof, and DayPASS fare products will expire after 365 days from the date of purchase.
Full refunds will also be available for unused fare products, however, not for partially used or expired products. Refunds will be available on personal Umo accounts of more than $10.
BC Transit did carry forward a policy change of limiting transfers for use on the next connecting bus within 90 minutes of the original fare payment, which was one of the concerns council had from the February meeting.
As discussion of the program progressed, several councillors stated they still couldn’t support it for various reasons.
“The direction this is taking, I think we’re losing sight of the big benefit that’s coming with this,” said Mac Logan, general manager of infrastructure.
Logan also pointed out that the software will make it easier for people to pay.
“The amount of new riders that you gain…will far outweigh the handful of riders that maybe the software will disadvantage. Please don’t lose sight of what we are going to gain.”
Council was also told BC Transit will undertake a fare review in the future so that any issues with the program that may come up can be addressed.
Umo will cost approximately $120,000 to roll out, and there will be ongoing costs as well. Cost savings are expected to be seen through reducing physical passes and cash collection.
“With the ease of using transit through the introduction of Umo our hope is that we see more people using the bus and we gain the revenues back that way as well,” said Ryan Dennis, with BC Transit.