Can smart cards change the way transit is used?
In 1997, Hong Kong pioneered the use of smart cards for public transit. Now, cities across the world have adopted similar systems, including London, Paris, Washington, Seoul and Melbourne. The next city to switch to a smart card payment system will be Montreal. Next year, transit users will be able to travel throughout Greater Montreal and even Quebec City with a single card.
"With a smart card in hand, commuters will be able to travel throughout the metropolitan area without going through the cumbersome process of buying multiple tickets or calculating the cost of different fares," writes the Gazette's Christopher DeWolf. "Considering the growing dispersal of employment away from downtown, being able to travel hassle-free throughout the Montreal region is important."
Montreal's Metropolitan Transit Corporation will also take the opportunity to adopt a more flexible zone or pay-by-distance fare system. Fares for short distance trips might drop, but fares for long-distance trips will probably increase. How will this impact transit users?