Halifax Transit’s electronic ticket system is delayed again

After multiple delays, passengers on Halifax Transit will have to wait a little longer before they can use their smart phones to pay for trips on buses and ferries.

Coun. Waye Mason asked for an update on the electronic fare system during a meeting of the city’s transportation standing committee Thursday.

London, UK-based company Masabi is designing the system, and was awarded the contract in July 2022. At the time, staff said it could be in place within months. That date then shifted to this summer.

Dave Reage, executive director of Halifax Transit, said he didn’t have a new delivery date just yet because he wanted to make sure the next timeline was “as ironclad as it can be” before it’s shared.

“Likely, we’re going to get into the fall before we have this roll out unfortunately,” Reage said during the meeting.

“I appreciate the frustration. Frankly I share the frustration, and we are working away at it.”

A white man in a gray suit and tie stands in front of a transit bus
Dave Reage is executive director of Halifax Transit (Robert Guertin/CBC)

The app will allow people to pay for tickets electronically on their phone, which they can then show to the driver. Right now, riders need exact change for a bus or ferry, if they don’t have paper tickets or a pass which are only sold at certain retail stores.

Reage said he’s making calls to Masabi to “make sure they understand the importance” of getting the system running.

Mason said Masabi is a “giant” in the fare technology field so he has confidence the system will work well once it arrives.

“But it’s got to be on the ground, so we’re going to have to keep asking,” Mason said.

Eventually, the buses and ferries will have scanners for the app, but that’s expected to come about nine months after the app first launches.

After the scanners are installed, the next move will be to allow debit and credit card payments.