Wednesday August 23, 2023 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
The Umo automated BC Transit payment system got a further launch today, after a soft launch back in March of this year.
The Electronic Fare Collection System Project leads were joined by the Victoria Regional Transit Commission as well as Dan Coulter, Minister of State for Infrastructure and Bonnie Crawford, General Manager Umo Mobility.
A media event was hosted at the Victoria Regional Transit Centre administration building on Gorge Road East in downtown Victoria.
System now active:
“The future is public transit and now the future has arrived for fare payments in the Victoria Regional Transit System system with UMO the new cashless system,” says CRD Chair Colin Plant.
Umo (pronounced “you-mo”) introduces contactless payment methods and new fare products that will improve the transit experience by allowing riders to pick the best options for their lifestyle and travel habits, said BC Transit in a news release today.
For more information on Umo, including video tutorials, frequently asked questions, and a schedule of upcoming educational engagement events, please visit bctransit.com/umo.
Pay by app or reloadable card:
New payment methods include the Umo Mobility app and a reloadable Umo card.
Umo Mobility app
The Umo Mobility app is available for free in the Apple App and Google Play stores. Once downloaded, riders create an account to purchase and manage their fare products. When ready to travel, riders open their app to display a dynamic QR code that serves as their fare product.
As riders board the bus, they present their app’s QR code to a new onboard digital validator.
The Umo app also provides riders with additional tools to help them plan their trip including real-time information and maps. Riders looking to get the most out of their transit experience can also use the app to create alerts that will inform them when they are nearing their stop while travelling and if their fare product is running low on funds or nearing its expiration date.
Umo Reloadable card
Riders also have the choice of using a reloadable Umo card. A Umo card can be picked up for free from a BC Transit vendor. The card is designed for continued use and can be continually topped up with fare products through a vendor, online at ca.umopass.com, or through Umo’s customer service call centre at 877-380-8181. When ready to travel, riders will tap their card at the new onboard validator.
While not required for use, riders are recommended to register their card by creating a Umo account online or through Umo customer service using the unique number on the back of their card. Registering a Umo card will safeguard any loaded fare product in the event their card is misplaced. BC Transit has partnered with London Drugs to be a provincial vendor of Umo fare products.
A full list of BC Transit fare vendors for the Victoria Regional Transit System can be found at bctransit.com/victoria/fares.
Onboard payments coming later on:
At a future date, BC Transit plans to provincially enable onboard payments with debit and credit cards. These additional payment methods will provide wider access to transit perfect for riders who utilize transit services occasionally. Both debit and credit cards will benefit from the same fare-capping policy mobile app and reloadable card riders receive.
Umo’s arrival introduces changes and improvements to some of the fares riders use with the introduction of the 30-Day Pass and Cash Balance fare products. The 30-Day Pass, eventually replacing the existing Monthly Pass, provides riders with the same convenience of having an unlimited long-term fare product but introduces the flexibility of not having to wait until the start of a calendar month to use it.
Cash Balance, eventually replacing paper Tickets, is a stored dollar amount a rider draws from as additional trips are taken. The exact dates for the removal of the Monthly Pass and Ticket fare products are still to be confirmed but BC Transit plans to provide riders several months to transition to a new Umo payment method. While it is expected most riders will find one of Umo’s new payment methods a more convenient option, cash will continue to be accepted for those riders who prefer to use it.
The popular DayPASS fare product also sees improvements with Umo’s arrival through an increase in the number of ways riders can access it and by lowering a rider’s commitment to purchasing it. Riders paying with a Cash Balance fare product will have their fare capped and automatically converted to a DayPASS after payment on their second trip of the day. This means regardless of a rider’s chosen Umo payment method a rider will never pay more than two times the value of a cash fare for unlimited daily travel. A rider will know a DayPASS has been applied to their payment method by referencing a confirmation message on the onboard validator’s digital screen.
Specialty fare programs:
Riders who are part of a specialty fare program, such as a U-Pass or ProPass program, will also benefit as a result of Umo’s new payment methods. Program riders will find significant time savings using Umo’s convenient method to link their transit pass to their choice of new payment methods now in place compared to the previous in-person processes. Riders will now be sent a unique benefit code from their program administrator and redeem it inside the mobile app, online at ca.umopass.com, or through Umo’s customer service call centre.
To support riders adopting a Umo payment method, BC Transit also announces that its new dedicated Umo customer service call centre is now live and ready for calls. Riders across the province can call 877-380-8181 toll-free from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday to Friday, and 8 am to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday to speak to a dedicated BC Transit Umo expert and have their questions answered or receive support.
Riders can they expect a period of transition as riders familiarize themselves with Umo payment methods and interact with the new onboard equipment for the first time, says BC Transit.
Transit drivers will continue to prioritize customer service above fare collection as Umo is rolled out should riders encounter challenges. It’s quite possible that older riders will find the system a bit challenging at first; the technology seems well-suited for the younger generation.
Coming to 29 other transit systems:
In the months following Umo’s launch in the Victoria Regional Transit System, Umo is scheduled to be implemented in 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, Squamish, Pemberton Valley, Central Fraser Valley, Chilliwack, Agassiz-Harrison, Hope Regional, Kamloops, Vernon Regional, Kelowna Regional, South Okanagan-Similkameen, West Kootenay, Cranbrook, Prince George, Quesnel, Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Kitimat, Terrace Regional, Skeena Regional, Prince Rupert, Port Edward, and Whistler.
Federal and provincial funding:
BC Transit’s Electronic Fare Collection System Project to implement Umo is funded through the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.
The project is cost-shared with the Government of Canada contributing 50 per cent of eligible costs, the Province of British Columbia contributing 40 per cent, and the project’s local government partners contributing the remaining 10 per cent. The total cost for this project in 30 transit systems is $23,200,000.
Owned by Cubic:
Umo is owned and operated by Cubic Transportation Systems, Inc. (Cubic). In addition to their innovative product, Cubic has brought nearly 20 years of experience supporting fare collection in British Columbia to this project as the long-time vendor for TransLink’s Compass Card network, used in Metro Vancouver.
- Honourable Dan Coulter, Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit – “The introduction of cashless payment options is great news for transit users across the Capital Region. By increasing convenience and accessibility we are making it easier for more people to choose transit. I look forward to seeing Umo rolled out in all of BC Transit’s 29 regional systems and the eventual transition to a fully integrated tap-to-pay system across the Province. This is one more way that we are improving affordable, efficient climate-friendly public transit options as part of our CleanBC strategy to take on climate change.”
- His Worship Ryan Windsor, Chair, Victoria Regional Transit Commission and Mayor, District of Central Saanich – “I am pleased to celebrate that Umo is now live for use in the Victoria Regional Transit System. 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.”
- Christy Ridout, Vice President, Strategy and Public Affairs, BC Transit – “I am so excited to take this giant leap to achieving our goal of making BC Transit ‘your best transportation solution’. We heard our riders when they asked for a new way to pay their fare and we are so pleased to provide them with the innovative Umo solution. With that said, we recognize innovation means changes to habits, and BC Transit is committed to supporting our riders while they make this transition. We promise no rider will be left behind without support from the Umo customer service call centre, upcoming public engagement events, support at bus stops, and our amazing onboard customer service.”
Coming soon: BC Transit ‘Umo’ electronic fare collection system (March 13, 2023)