Starting Friday, Laval commuters will be able pay their fare simply by brandishing their credit card on six selected bus routes.
“No more fumbling for exact change to pay the $3.25 fare,” Société de transport de Laval (STL) chairman Deputy Mayor David De Cotis told The Suburban. “We’re the first transit authority in Canada to let passengers use their Visa or MasterCard when they board the bus.”
Right now, about one in ten Laval passengers pays cash, slowing down service, he said in an interview. Besides saving precious time at rush hour, making bus service here more efficient, the touch memory technology will encourage more people to take the bus whenever it suits them.
“If you’re out doing errands on foot and get caught in the rain, it will be easy to hop on a bus to get home,” De Cotis explained. “Likewise for visitors to Laval. They won’t need to buy a book of tickets or have precisely the right amount of cash on them.”
Buses on routes 20, 39, 48, 60, 63 and 73 will start accepting the credit card touch payments, April 21. They will continue to do so until the pilot project wraps up at a yet-to-be-specified date this fall.
STL has partnered with Desjardins to install the on-board touch payment terminals, similar to the popular PayPass and PayWave terminals widely used by merchants. Only Visa and MasterCard credit cards will be accepted, but De Cotis said that STL will consider permitting debit card and prepaid credit card payments at some point in the future. Smartphone payments might work during the initial phase this summer, but STL doesn’t recommend doing so, since Desjardins’ tech boffins haven’t yet worked out all the details needed to ensure that the smartphones will always work properly with the new terminals.
“If the pilot project proves successful—and we’re confident that it will—we will consider rolling it out to the rest of the STL network,” he said.
Although Montreal and Longueuil transit authorities aren’t participating in the pilot project, STL plans to share its findings with them and other regional transit authorities.
Similar systems are already in service in Chicago, London, Moscow and Madrid, and Paris, New York and Toronto transit authorities are already following Laval’s lead.
Two different teams are keeping a close watch over the high water levels in the Mille Iles and des Prairie rivers at this time of year.
“We can predict the levels of water two or three days ahead of time,” says Sophie Latreille, a water level forecaster from Hydro Météo. “Right now, the level of water is very high everywhere and the snow is melting. With the rain too, some sectors could suffer minor flooding.”
The City of Laval pays Lateille’s team to monitor measuring stations across the city to help them predict flooding. They know that even minor flooding is likely to touch St. Dorothy. The sector next to the Arthur Sauvé Bridge is also at risk.
“I am a specialist in how the river bed will be affected, but I can’t tell you which streets will flood or what needs to be done to inform the public,” said Latreille. “We send out bulletins about what’s happening to all our clients, including the City of Laval. They decide what to do from then.”
Last Sunday, Hydro Météo sent the city a bulletin informing them of water levels at six o’clock in the morning. A second went out later that day. Laval’s emergency response team goes on high alert when necessary. Their concern begins the moment rain falls, and then increases for two or three days as water levels reach their peak.
This season is tough on everyone, but Latreille says there is one consolation that isn’t always true.
“At least all the ice has melted already.”