Plans are underway to introduce phase one of new digital fare media to Bermuda’s public transportation system on June 24, for the island’s buses and ferries.

Transport Minister Wayne Furbert told MPs today that the upcoming transition marks “a pivotal moment in our journey towards modernization and efficiency”.

Speaking in the House of Assembly this morning, he said: “Gone are the days of fumbling for loose change or standing in long queues to purchase tickets.

“With the digital fare media, commuters can effortlessly manage their fares through a simple, user-friendly app that is accessible via smartphones or the use of a digital method.

“This convenience extends to visitors, who will be able to navigate our transportation network with ease, leaving them with more time to explore and enjoy our island’s offerings.

“This transformative initiative is designed to cater to the needs of both our local population and visitors, ensuring a seamless travel experience that aligns with the demands of our dynamic society,” he added.

“Can you imagine boarding a bus or a ferry in Bermuda and effortlessly using your smartphone or an easy device to pay your fare?

“Picture a seamless journey where the hassles of carrying cash or scrambling for tickets or tokens become relics of the past.”

The new OMNY contactless payment system installed on a local Staten Island bus. (Courtesy of Melissa Bascome)

The Minister said the anticipated launch was “a groundbreaking evolution in our public transportation system”.

“This transformative initiative signifies not just a technological leap, but a paradigm shift towards a more connected, efficient, and user centric transportation experience for al..

“The digital fare media not only expedites the boarding process but also minimizes the risk of errors associated with traditional ticketing systems,” he added.

“This heightened efficiency translates into more punctual services and greater reliability, a significant advantage for commuters and tourists alike.

“Embracing digitalization is not merely a choice; it is a testament to our commitment to progress and innovation.

“By adopting cutting edge technologies in our transportation infrastructure, we are signaling to the world our readiness to embrace the challenges and opportunities of the digital age.”

Additionally, he said: “As stewards of our environment, we also recognize the imperative to reduce our carbon footprint.

“By transitioning to a digital fare system, we are taking step towards a greener future, with reduced paper usage and emissions associated with printing traditional transportation tickets.”

While noting that phase one will be unveiled on June 24, he said the launch will introduce the following:

• The ability for passengers to conveniently buy tickets using their mobile phones through an app. Once purchased, they can effortlessly board buses or ferries by simply displaying their digital ticket to the operators. Operators will be able to determine the type of fare purchased by the signal on the passenger’s screen, whether it is the type of zone purchased or an adult or child fare. As the transition to digital fare media is a phased approach, the option of purchasing and usingthe traditional fare willremain in place throughout the phases. subsequent to Phase one, which passengers would have been provided the ability to buy tickets using their mobile phones through an app, Phase two and three, the following will be introduced:

  • A Realtime Application
  • The ability to use credit and debit cards
  • The ability to use contactless transportation passes which will replace the seniors, children and special needs passes
  • The ability to purchase digital tickets with machine-readable codes
  • And the introduction of the validator system on the buses and ferries

The Minister noted that the real time application allows passengers to see the location of buses and ferries on their mobile devices in real time.

“When Johnny or Mrs Smith is waiting at the bus stop, they can look at the map of Bermuda on the app on their cell phone and can have a visual of the location of the bus or ferry and track its movements as it travels to its destination,” he said.

“The validators are small devices that will be installed in every bus and ferry in the public fleet.

“Upon boarding a bus or ferry, a passenger will need only to tap their phone, debit or credit card, contactless transportation pass or digital ticket on the validator to prove fare payment.

“The ability to use credit and debit cards will allow passengers to board a bus or ferry, enter their zone requirement whether it is a 3 zone or 14 zone and also the option to select whether the passenger is a child or an adult.

Additionally, the passenger can select for several persons if they are travelling and paying for persons such as family and friends. Seniors, children, and individuals with special needs will be empowered to obtain passes through their mobile phones.

“However, those without access to a phone can opt for a physical pass.

“These passes will be contactless, enabling seamless boarding on buses and ferries. Phases two and three are scheduled for launch in September 2024.”

A “comprehensive and enlightening public campaign designed to inform and educate the community about ‘What’ and ‘How’,” will be launched on June 1.

“This public awareness campaign will offer detailed insights into upcoming developments, particularly regarding the transition to digital fare media, specifically further explaining what digital fare media entails and explaining how to use,” said the Minister.

“Our goal is to equip the public with a thorough understanding of what lies ahead, ensuring they are well prepared for the changes on the horizon.”

In closing, he said: “We are about to experience a revolutionary change in our public transportation system: the digital fare media.

“This will not only be a new way of paying for your rides, but a new way of experiencing them. With digital fare media, you will enjoy convenience, security, and efficiency like never before.

“You will be able to use your smartphone, smartwatch, or any other compatible device to access any public mode of transport, without having to worry about cash, tickets, or cards.

“You will be able to track your travel history, manage your balance, and plan your trips with ease. Digital fare media is more than a technology, it is a lifestyle.

“It is a way of embracing the future and making the most of every journey. Join us in this exciting adventure, and let’s make Bermuda, greener, and happier with digital fare media!”

Top Feature Photo: Contactless payment system