TransLink’s Smart Card Faregate project moves to proposal phase

Written by jrood

February 14, 2001 TransLink in the Vancouver, B.C., area, has issued a formal Request for Proposals to three pre-qualified companies to submit bids to design, install, operate and maintain the planned Smart Card and Faregate system.

Thales/Octopus International
Projects, developers of Hong Kong’s "Octopus" card, Serco/Parkeon, which
introduced a complete smart card system for Perth, Australia, and Cubic/IBM,
makers of the "Oyster" card in London, England, were chosen in May out of 10
companies, which had responded to TransLink’s Request for Qualifications. Now,
these three companies have been asked to draw up their proposals to create the
Smart Card/Faregate system, have it in operation by spring 2013 and operate and
maintain it for 10 years.

Technical submissions are
due by October 20th and financial submissions by late November. TransLink staff
will make a recommendation on the preferred proponent to the Board in December.

The province is providing
C$40 million for the Smart Card and Faregate project, while the federal
government is contributing C$30 million from the Build Canada Fund. TransLink
is covering the remaining costs – approximately C$100 million of the estimated C$170
million capital project.

"This is a significant
investment that will improve customer service and security as well as the
efficiency of the transit system," says TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis, who
acknowledged the funding support from the provincial and federal governments as
being critical to the ability to put the new systems in place.

"The long-term benefits
are countless, particularly because the system will provide us with invaluable
data that will tell us how people are using our system and where we can make
adjustments that will maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the
expansion we’ve put in place over the past five years," he said.

Jarvis added that the
Smart Card and Faregate system will help TransLink respond to the public’s
concern about transit fare evasion and the sense of security on SkyTrain.

"We’ll also have the data
needed to review and re-design our fare structure, opening up new and
innovative ways to provide incentives to switch to transit while ensuring that
fare revenues continue to support services across the region," said Jarvis.

TransLink’s Smart Card
will be modeled after electronic fare payment systems in use around the world,
in which transit customers get a card with an electronic chip that they ‘load’
with funds to pay for their transit trips. Many of the world’s leading systems
are "tag-on/tag-off" systems, in which customers tap their cards on special
readers as they board a transit vehicle or station and then tap the reader
again as they leave. This allows the fare charged to their card to be based on
a number of factors, including distance traveled, time of day or specific

The introduction of
faregates on SkyTrain is going to coincide with the roll-out of Smart Cards
because the two systems complement each other. While Canada and Millennium line
stations have been designed to include faregates, the original Expo Line
stations will need to be modified in a process that is expected to begin early
next year.