Calgary Transit is moving to mobile ticketing, a new technology challenge!

Calgary Transit looking for a mobile ticketing system Sept. 2018

The city spent five years working with automation solution firm Schneider Electric testing the CONNECT system, but technical issues caused the city to finally cancel the contract.

The revival of a potential mobile ticketing app comes two years after the city canceled CONNECT, a card-based system that would have allowed Calgarian’s to do away with exact change or cash for bus fares.

“[Calgary Transit] is seeking a Mobile Ticketing Solution (MTS) that will allow customers the option of self-service for the provisioning of transit fare products through a mobile application,” a statement on the website read.

MyFare Mobile Ticketing System

Calgary Transit

From June to September 2019, we tested My Fare, a mobile payment system that will provide additional options for buying and displaying transit fares. The test went well, and now we’re entering the next phase of developing the system. Stay tuned for updates.

Reasons Why Public Transport is Not Moving to Mobile Ticketing?

Mobile phones are so popular nowadays, so why don’t transit agencies around the world decide to move to mobile ticketing?

The reason is stemmed from the availability of a technology that can support most of the smartphone and have a fast transaction speed like the legacy smart card. Here the two popular technologies and their problem:

1) NFC based (Near Field Communication)

NFC is the technology used in the legacy smart card for automatic fare collection (AFC). By incorporating an NFC chip inside a smartphone can enable the smartphone to be used as a legacy smart card.

With the launch of Apple Pay, NFC based payment in 2014, people believe that NFC will be the ultimate solution for AFC.

However, on the Android side of the smartphone, NFC is getting unpopular especially for the high volume low-end smartphone under US$ 200. This is a major setback for NFC is a solution for fare collection.

2) QR Code-based

With the popularity of 2 payment giants in China, Wechat Pay, and Alipay, the QR code-based payment method suddenly gain popularity in China as well as in Asia.

QR code payment method is available for all smartphones (IOS and Android OS). Unlike NFC based payment, QR code-based is an online payment system that requires server verification for the transaction. The transaction time will take more than 3 seconds. This speed is not acceptable for public transportation, especially for busy cities.

In China, there is a work-a-round using off-line based QR code payment by trusting that the user will have sufficient funding. This is workable in China because all smartphone users have to register their name and personal information and get verified. However, it won’t work in most of the countries in the West due to the privacy act.


Calgary Transit is moving in the right direction for a mobile transit payment.

“Convenience, security, and reliability are the priorities of the system”, Calgary Transit.

But hope that the system is designed to handle high transaction traffic during the rush hours when Calgarians go to work.

The mobile ticketing failure for Oilers at the Rogers Place is a good lesson to learn.

The author has over 19 years of experience in the automated fare collection industry. The latest development of mobile wallets is worth looking into. To learn more, please visit