BC Transit has been trying to get its new electronic payment system off the ground since March, and now it’s finally here.
The system is called Umo and the Victoria Regional Transit System is the first branch of BC Transit to pilot the new software.
All buses operating within Greater Victoria will be outfitted with a scanner machine to allow for contactless, and eventually paperless payments.
“I am pleased to celebrate that Umo is now live for use in the Victoria Regional Transit System,” said Ryan Windsor, Chair of the Victoria Regional Transit Commission and Mayor of Central Saanich.
“This innovative system supports our goal of making transit the preferred mode of travel for people in the Victoria region by increasing access to selecting transit and allowing riders to pick the best payment method and fare for their lifestyle and travel habits.”
How to pay
Bus-goers all across Greater Victoria will now be able to pay for their bus ride on the free Umo app via their Apple or Android smartphone or a reloadable Umo payment card.
Riders using the app to pay for their ride simply need to load money onto their Umo account and scan the QR code to pay at the front of the bus.
In addition to acting as a method of payment, bus riders will be able to access real-time information on the buses they need to catch as well as route information to help them get to where they need to go most efficiently.
The Umo cards can be picked up for free at certain BC Transit vendors, and through Umo’s website, money can be loaded onto them. They can also be topped up by calling Umo’s customer service call centre.
BC Transit is using the Umo app and the reloadable cards as a way to soft-launch the new payment system, but they do plan for people to be able to use their debit and credit cards in the future. The launch date of this phase of the Umo rollout has yet to be determined.
Customers can also still pay with cash, including change, if that’s their desired payment method. BC Transit says at this time, they don’t know whether or not they will eliminate cash payments as a method going forward.
🙌#YYJ, we’re excited to announce that #Umo is live in the Victoria Regional Transit System ready for your use! Starting today, #VictoriaBC riders can use a new Umo payment method to pay for their fare.
— BC Transit (@BCTransit) August 23, 2023
New ways to ride
Along with Umo’s launch, BC Transit is launching the 30-Day Pass to replace the monthly pass from before Umo’s implementation.
The $5 DayPASS will be replaced as well by Umo. Going forward, individuals paying with their Umo app or card will pay $2.50 for their first and second rides of the day, but after that they will not be charged when they scan their QR code or their pass.
Rider’s daily fare will automatically cap out at $5 allowing them unlimited daily travel, without having to hold onto their transfer slip.
Riders who utilize a U-Pass or ProPass will simply be sent a code, allowing them to easily set up their pass through the app or call centre.
Umo across BC
BC Transit says as this new system may take some time for people to adopt and integrate into their daily lives, drivers will prioritize their riders over challenges encountered with the app and card system.
After Victoria’s Umo debut, the new system will be getting implemented similarly with these 29 other transit systems, in the following order:
- Cowichan Valley Regional
- Regional District of Nanaimo
- Comox Valley Regional
- Campbell River
- Port Alberni Regional
- Powell River Regional
- Sunshine Coast
- Pemberton Valley
- Central Fraser Valley
- Chilliwack, Agassiz-Harrison
- Hope Regional, Kamloops
- Vernon Regional
- Kelowna Regional
- South Okanagan-Similkameen
- West Kootenay
- Prince George
- Fort St. John
- Dawson Creek
- Terrace Regional
- Skeena Regional
- Prince Rupert
- Port Edward
The total cost to implement Umo across the 30 specified regions is just over $23.2 million.
Umo’s launch throughout BC Transit is 50% funded by the Canadian government, 40% funded by the province with the last 10% being paid for by the municipality it is serving.