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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

People are losing it over Halifax Transit’s new giant-ass bus tickets

“This blows my mind with how dumb it is,” responds members of the public.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 15, 2018 at 10:55 PM

click to enlarge The new tickets will cut down on...something...by being extra cumbersome. - VIA HRM
  • VIA HRM
  • The new tickets will cut down on...something...by being extra cumbersome.

As part of ongoing efforts to modernize Halifax Transit's technology and improve the ridership experience, bus tickets will soon be really, really, really big.

The city put out a tender this week looking for someone to print the new transit tickets, which will each measure six inches in length by 2.75 inches in width.

That's approximately the size of a five-dollar bill, and almost as large as 10 of the current orange blue-and-yellow tickets.

Bigger is necessary, says the city, because the old-style tickets can't be accepted by the expensive new fare boxes already purchased for HRM's fleet.

Those boxes will enhance transit technology by validating and counting both paper money and paper tickets—providing a “ding” of acceptance for honest customers or a buzz of shame if someone's fare falls short.

The new system will “lay the technological foundation for enhancements and additional customer conveniences to be implemented in the future, including the adoption of smart media,” says HRM's specially created FAQ on the new tickets. (Always a good sign!)

Anyway, people are having absolutely none of it.


Prior plans to replace the fare boxes and allow for electronic bus payment options were delayed three years ago, then split in two after it became clear no single contractor could handle both halves of the upgrades.

A year ago, city council approved a $14-million deal for Trapeze Software to handle the first half of that overhaul by creating new back-end scheduling software and installing the shiny new boxes

“This new fare box will allow us to improve the performance of the system,” councillor Waye Mason said at the time. “I think it’s very exciting and wanted to jump on the mic and say how important and exciting this is.” 

Mason was less excited this week upon finding out about the ticket girth.

“Everything that is happening makes sense to me EXCEPT six-inch long tickets,” tweeted the deputy mayor. “That is just plain weird.”

The second phase of the fare management upgrades, still to come, will allow riders to use electronic payment options—potentially some combination of smart cards, credit cards and/or cellphones.

In the interim, the new tickets will fold accordion style “so they can fit in wallets with other bills.” They'll also include infrared ink to cut down on transit ticket forgeries. OK.

The redesigned tickets will replace Halifax's current orange blue-and-yellow stubs at the end of the year. Old tickets can be exchanged for new ones at specially designated locations that are yet to be determined.

The new fare collection system should be up and running sometime next winter.

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