Halifax Transit fares coming back August 1, but by 2021 you should be able to pay with your phone

Starting July 24 masks will be mandatory on all Halifax Transit busses and ferries.
Starting July 24 masks will be mandatory on all Halifax Transit busses and ferries.
This week Halifax Regional Council voted in favour of a phased approach to electrifying payment on Halifax Transit's busses. The news, which councillor Lorelei Nicoll said she's been waiting for since 2008, will bring Halifax into the new century of transit tech 20 years after it started.

Fares, which have been suspended since the COVID state of emergency was announced in March, come back August 1. With that, busses and ferries will go back to full capacity—a change that's preceded by mandatory masks which begins tomorrow, July 24.

It won't be until late 2020 or early 2021 when the phased shift to paying for transit with tech will start to roll out. In this first stage, riders will have the option to pay for transit via an app on their phone. HRM will be paying attention to how many people actually start using the app, their feedback and, importantly—and for the first time ever—getting some hard data about Halifax Transit's riders and their habits.

For frequent riders who are hesitant to splurge on a pass, the app will keep track of how much money is spent in a month, and once a ticket that bumps the rider over the cost of a monthly pass is purchased, the app will automatically switch over to a monthly pass—effectively making the rest the rides that month free.

The app will allow riders to buy their tickets beforehand, and won't need an internet connection to be shown to the driver. It'll also have a transfer function built-in, having the ticket expire after a to-be-set amount of time has elapsed between rides.

Riders will need an internet connection and a smart phone to buy the ticket itself.
People will be able to buy their ticket from home or somewhere with internet access before boarding (and Halifax Transit has been working to install wifi at all transit terminals plus there are plans down the road for wifi on busses).

For people who don't have smartphones or means to pay for things electronically, for now they'll be able to buy tickets or pay on the bus with cash. The plan does say it aims to be cash-free by 2025, but a few councillors raised concerns about the risk of going cashless isolating some of the city's most vulnerable.

Anyone who has travelled to another city in the last five years and taken transit has likely experienced some kind of technology to pay for transit, and thanks to Halifax's snail's pace in this area, it'll save a bit of money skipping over some systems that are now defunct.

Plans for bus accessibility still lag behind, but with the Bus Rapid Transit plan announced earlier this year and the hope of some more accurate user data coming in the future, this plan is a big part of ramping up bus services in Halifax Regional Municipality. 

About The Author

Caora McKenna

Caora is the City Editor at The Coast, where she writes about everything from city hall to police and housing issues. She’s been with The Coast since 2017, when she began as the publication’s Copy Editor.

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