Introducing OPUS for public transportation

Press release


Introducing OPUS for public transportation

Montreal, April 1, 2008 With the Québec Minister of Transport, Mrs. Julie Boulet, in attendance, the leaders of Société de transport de Montréal (STM), Société de transport de Laval (STL), Réseau de transport de Longueuil (RTL), Agence métropolitaine de transport (AMT), Association des conseils inter-municipaux de transport and of Réseau de transport de la Capitale (RTC), today announced the arrival of the smart card in public transportation in the Montréal metropolitan area and Québec City. Thanks to this joint project, nearly one million people could enjoy the advantages of automated fare sales and collection. For clients, the new system will improve and simplify the purchase and use of transit fares; for public transportation authorities, the system will provide better control over collected fares and help to significantly reduce fraud.

Mrs. Boulet is most pleased by this announcement: “I am very proud to point out that, by virtue of Québec’s Programme d’aide au transport collectif des personnes and of SOFIL’s federal-provincial programme for local infrastructure, the STM will receive a subsidy of nearly $76 M to acquire the system and equipment needed for the project, evaluated at $90 M. Such initiatives clearly show how public transit authorities are responding in a positive way to the challenge posed by the government with its Politique québécoise du transport collectif. This is a good indication that we can reach the goals set out in the policy, which will lead to increased services for users.”

The Chairman of the STM Board of Directors, Claude Trudel, recalled that in 2001, under the STM’s leadership, public transportation authorities gathered together to take part in this innovative project and enjoy greater purchasing power. “This led to the replacement of thousands of fare collection boxes aboard buses, in métro stations and commuter train stations. The introduction of this new technology will have required overall investments of $ 217 M, of which some $169 M for the STM alone. Such investments will become profitable in the medium and long term, because the new system will help recover millions of dollars lost through fraud, which is estimated at 5% for public transportation.”

The one for everyone

According to Joël Gauthier, Agence métropolitaine de transport President and Chief Executive Officer, “by joining forces, we can offer a modern and practical product that public transit users will grow to appreciate because, as the slogan says, “it’s the one for everyone.“

In concrete terms, this simply means that OPUS is the one card that can be used by everyone travelling with the AMT, STM, STL, RTL, CIT-OMIT and CRT, as well as the RTC. The one card that can be charged with every type of fare transit users may need, a single card for access to buses, the métro and commuter trains within the Greater Montreal area and in Québec City; a practical and accessible card, that can be obtained or recharged in métro stations, either from a fare collector or from fare vending equipment, in metropolitan ticket counters and in more than 700 points of sale in Québec, once deployment is complete.

For the card’s introduction, public transit authorities in the metropolitan area (AOT) will sell it for $3.50 – a 50% discount – throughout the entire deployment period which will extend to June 2009. The card is durable and can be kept for up to seven years, depending on clients. The cost of the card for the project’s partners is $7.00. In a few months, it will be possible to register the card. As a result, should the card be lost or stolen, owners can have their fare balance remitted, a replacement guarantee that could not be granted with existing technology.

Proven technology

Major cities like Paris, London, San Francisco and Atlanta have already chosen smart cards. In Québec, Société de transport de l’Outaouais successfully introduced it in its buses between 1998 and 2004.

“ACS is the firm that obtained the contract to supply a central system, including the software and equipment. ACS has wide experience on the international market, as it has implemented this new technology in Lyons, Toulouse, Nice and Warsaw. They assure us that the technology we have chosen is secure and tamper-proof,” indicated Jean-Jacques Beldi�, Chairman of the STL Board of Directors.

Tested for you

A large number of tests were carried out to validate the new technology and how it functions. Clients and employees were consulted throughout the project to adjust certain strategies. Moreover, the Chairwoman of the RTL’s Board of Directors, Mrs. Johane F.-Deshaies, indicated that some one hundred clients were currently taking part in a trial period, experimenting with purchasing, using and recharging their smart card without any preparation. During this period, clients must answer a few questions each day, making it possible to monitor and follow their experience during every step of the process and in different situations. “We have every reason to believe that transit users will think of their OPUS card as easy and simple to use, regardless of their age. We are convinced they will quickly adopt the new card and keep it on hand everywhere they go,” she added.

Greater versatility, a plus for clients

According to Gilles Marcotte, Chairman of the RTC’s Board of Directors, “the arrival of the OPUS card marks a turning point for public transit users. Versatile, this new technology will eventually allow us to offer a wider range of fare products and to develop partnerships with various organizations and events which, in turn, will enable clients to enjoy additional advantages.”

Deployment strategy: gradually but surely

The smart card will be deployed gradually but surely. Based on the experience of others around the world, it is the best way to ensure the conditions for success. Here, the gradual deployment will be by geographic sector and by category of clients. Thus, students using STM, STL, RTL and AMT transit fares will get their OPUS card for the fall 2008 school year followed later, in November 2008, by adult transit users in Montréal, Laval and Longueuil.

Moreover, the CIT/OMIT/CRT serving the North and South shores of the Greater Montréal area will also be adopting this new technology, in fall 2008 for CIT Sorel-Varennes and later in 2009 for the others. “We will meet the growing need for fast and efficient service for clients travelling within the larger metropolitan transit area. This joint smart card project clearly demonstrates the willingness of public transit authorities to make it easier for transit users by having them use the same technology going from one network to the next,” pointed out Jean-Luc Labrecque, President of Association des conseils intermunicipaux de transport.

Throughout the deployment period, from April 2008 to June 2009, existing transit fares and equipment (turnstiles, transfer dispensers and others) will remain operational to ensure a smooth transition. They will only be removed once the new system is fully deployed.

Accompanying clients during this transition

Every possible measure will be taken to ensure that transit users adhere to this new technology. The joint communications strategy rests, of course, on promotion and information, but also on having teams present throughout the networks to accompany clients during the deployment period. Each step of the way will be marked by specific actions. Information will be regularly updated on a joint website that can already be consulted by clicking

An achievement that makes us proud

“With the implementation of various programmes to improve services and increase ridership, public transportation in Québec is bubbling with energy, making it the perfect time to introduce a smart card. The STM is proud to have brought together public transit authorities in the metropolitan Montréal area plus Réseau de transport de la Capitale (RTC) to carry out this unifying and structuring project and present public transportation clients with a practical and accessible card. Smart cards will help position public transportation as the modern and efficient way of getting around. In addition, because it can be recharged, it is quite durable ! One could say that clients who use it will be doing twice their share for the environment,” concluded Mr. Trudel.

OPUS, a latin word meaning « work ».
OPUS means «what is necessary, what is needed».
In concert music, an OPUS has a number, like the smart card.
OPUS, an easy word to say, in any language.

OPUS, the practical, secure and durable one.
OPUS, the one for everyone !

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