Calgary Transit’s My Fare app downloads surpass city expectations

Users say app is convenient and easy to use; reviewers say thumbs down to 7-day ticket expiry

Calgary Transit bus. LIVEWIRE CALGARY FILE PHOTO

More than one-third of Calgary transit tickets are now bought through the electronic payment system which users say is convenient and simple.

MyFare, the electronic payment app which launched on July 1, is gaining popularity with citizens in Calgary for its ease of use.

“It’s surpassed all of our goals for downloads and active users,” said Amanda Bradley, the city’s transit relations specialist.

“We’re really happy about that.”

Transit riders can buy a ticket through the app on their phone. The ticket gets added to your ticket wallet, which riders then scan using a device on the CTrain or on a bus to activate their fare.

Currently the app sits at #15 on the Apple App Store travel list. It has a 3.3 / 5 rating, with 53 ratings.

The vast majority of negative ratings are around the app are the seven-day expiry of tickets.

“There should be an option for buy [sic] more than 5 tickets at a time and the fact they can expire within 7 days is really dumb,” wrote one reviewer.

In a follow up response, the city explained the seven-day expiry.

“The 7 day expiry is a fraud prevention feature that helps us mitigate abuse of buying fare products and not validating them appropriately,” the city wrote in an email response.

Makes transit fare purchase easier

Users do admire the convenience.

“Everybody has their phone on them,” said Michaela Pitman, a transit rider and a My Fare app user.

She added that having it on your phone makes things a lot easier.

“I’ve linked my card,” said Pitman. “So, I can just buy it from my phone if I’m in a rush.”

In an age where everyone has a phone and few coins, the app is proving to be popular. Roughly 12 per cent of Calgary transit ticket revenue is generated now through the electronic payment system.

Pitman also said that not handling cash makes things safer due to COVID-19.

“It’s better for the bus drivers because they don’t have to hand you a transfer ticket,” she said.

Other customers have shared the same opinion.

Bradley said that customers appreciate having the option of not touching transfers and tickets.

“We know our customers really value it especially during COVID when the the fewer things you can touch the better,” she said.

New system, not new idea

The idea of an electronic payment system wasn’t new to Calgary in July. Around a decade ago, Calgary Transit wanted to launch the Connect card.

They eventually got rid of that system in 2015 because there were reliability issues with it.

Pitman says that the new My Fare app almost always works, but she has had an issue with it before.

“Sometimes, machines don’t want to read the QR code,” she said.

“But that’s the only problem I’ve had.”

Standard fare options such as paper ticket books and transfers are still in use and are available for Calgary Transit customers.

The city is also working on adding both senior bus fare and low-income bus fare to the payment system.

Once universities reimplement the Upass program, Bradley said they will add that to the app as well.

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