Halifax Transit will finish installing e-payment validators in March

The units on each bus will help passengers verify payments, but cash won't disappear

4 min read
The left is a bus validator with the word "coming soon" on it. The right is a person holding a mobile phone. On the screen is the homepage of the HFXGO app, with the No. 5 bus behind it.
caption In this composite image, on the left is a validator on Halifax Transit's Route 7B bus with the words "coming soon" on it. The mobile phone screen on the right is has the homepage of the HFXGO app.
Xixi Jiang

Boarding will become more streamlined when new electronic machines begin operating on Halifax Transit buses and ferries in a few weeks.

Marc Santilli, Halifax Transit‘s technical services manager, expects the installation of all validators to be complete by the end of March. The validators allow passengers to scan a QR code of a ticket or transfer from the Halifax Transit fare payment app.

“It’s so much easier for someone to utilize the app and purchase their fare products wherever they are, whenever they want, rather than having to search for exact change or go to specific retail locations for a monthly pass or a 10-pack of tickets,” Santilli said.

“I think the convenience will definitely be the selling point for a lot of people.”

The screenshot of HRM's tweet post bus validator.
caption This screenshot from HRM’s X account, formerly known as Twitter, shows the service’s new bus validator.

Tony Jadischke, a Halifax Transit driver, said improvements to the fare validation system will help keep his bus running according to schedule.

“That’s really where all of the transit difficulties come from is all the stops that we have to make and people fiddle with change and we check transfers,” Jadischke said. “The new QR code app would definitely speed up that process.”

A man wearing a Halifax Transit uniform with a Halifax bus behind him
caption Tony Jadischke takes a break on the second floor of the Scotia Square terminal between shifts driving the Route 10 bus.
Xixi Jiang

After all validators are installed, Halifax Transit will launch reloadable plastic smart cards and open payment options, allowing passengers to use credit or debit cards to tap the validators for bus and ferry fares.

Santilli echoed the concerns he’s heard among the public. He said the installation of a new electronic system in Halifax Transit was not about going cashless or disrupting the way people currently use transportation.

“We’re just trying to make it more accessible and easier for some people, to give them more options,” Santilli said. “So, nothing is going away. We’re just adding new stuff.”

The validator installations follow Halifax Transit’s introduction of the HFXGO fare payment app last November. Passengers can buy tickets and check route schedules, maps and whether buses are on a detour in the app.

Passengers say the HFXGO app has made it easier for them to travel in Halifax and they look forward to its further integration into the transit system.

Regular Halifax Transit passenger and HFXGO app user Gautam Vaghani said the driver and passenger both save time with the app and the validator.

“No person can cheat,” he said, showing the app on his phone as he spoke.

“If there’s a QR code, (passengers) give proper money, the full (fare) amount for tickets. So, it’s good,” Vaghani said.

Vaghani says he frequently sees passengers deposit only one or two dollars in the cash box when they board, instead of the full $2.75 adult cash fare. Sometimes people give more money but the driver doesn’t have change to give them.

“You don’t need to go to any physical store,” or wait in a line to get tickets, Vaghani added.

Some fare products, such as one-ride tickets, 20-ride tickets, one-day unlimited passes and two-day passes are available on the HFXGO app but aren’t available in local stores. These combination products are also cheaper compared to buying individual paper tickets.

Livy Lyle, a student at the University of King’s College, said the one-ride ticket on the app is more convenient for her.

“My boyfriend has a car that I use all the time. I won’t need to have a year-long membership, so being able to just buy one-off kind of things would be really nice,” Lyle said.

Santilli said Halifax Transit’s Affordable Access Transit Pass would be the first program pass available on HFXGO app.

Halifax Transit provided the affordable access transit pass to residents in financial need at a 50 per cent discount. Currently, it can only be processed at two locations: Bayers Road or Alderney Gate Customer Service Centre.

“Right now for participants in that program, it is wildly inconvenient for them to have to go to very specific locations to get the affordable access pass,” Santilli said. “So if we can get that added to the app, that will make it so much more accessible.”

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About the author

Xixi Jiang

Xixi Jiang, who often goes by Jacky, is from China. She’s a fourth-year student in BJH program at the University of King’s College.

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