Meet Opus: smart card “launch” part II


The new smart card is being launched today…but may not be available until September. Although the Gazette published an article about the launch with a photo of a smart-card being used, according to various STM info sources the card will be available either in July or the fall. Magnetic-strip ticket cards, different from the re-useable Opus card, are now available for purchase at some locations.

As already discussed on this site, the infrastructure for this new system of transit payment has been slowly appearing throughout our public transit system over the last few years – and that is what is now operational. One of the big selling points of this technology is its role in limiting fare-evasion, but equally important is the efficiency of the system. The contactless card will allow riders to use their cards without digging them out of their pockets, purses, and backpacks – which is especially lengthy when that involves stripping off mitts or gloves…or balancing your morning coffee. It’s worth noting that one of the often cited elements of Curitiba’s (every novice planner’s favourite city) public transit success was making boarding faster and easier.

However not everything about the Opus card is rosy. The STCUM has said that there will be no fare-change associated with the smart-cards, despite the fact that riders will be charged $3.50 for the Opus card. Furthermore, after the “deployment period” ends in June 2009, the price of the smart card will be $7. In contrast, Boston encourages riders to use the rechargeable Charlie card by making single ride fares added to the Charlie card cheaper than ticketed fares. Even though only 16% of STM riders use tickets or cash, encouraging the switch to a re-useable card can still play a significant role in resource use and boarding times.

The ultimate plan for fare collection on buses doesn’t seem to have changed, but this remains unclear. According to the STM site, riders will still be able to pay their bus fare in cash. Yet the Gazette cites STM spokesperson Odile Paradis as saying that the new system will eliminate bus drivers from the fare collection process.

These little contradictions and possibly unmade decisions will, over time, probably become our new favourite points to pick at the STM about. But for now, pick up a magnetic ticket card where you can, or an Opus card in July or September, and enjoy the ride.

Photo by Cedric Sam


  1. I just realized something: if we are now recharging our cards monthly, how will we be able to prove a purchase of a year’s worth of cards for the federal tax rebate? Well, that was nice while it lasted.

  2. Wouldn’t it be possible to get a receipt each time you fill the card? In any case, I file my taxes online and nobody has yet asked to see my transit passes…

  3. The fare “discount” associated with smart cards in Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago are actually the reverse: fare premiums paid by non-smart card riders. DC doesn’t discount rail fares for smart card holders, but likewise charges a $0.10 premium for cash fares.

    Not sure about STM’s vendor, but all of the Cubic-provided smart card systems in the States have online account management for smart card holders. You can log in online and print off an account statement. It’s come in handy a few times for expense reimbursements, even though the US tax benefit system works the other way around: transit costs can be deducted from your paycheck before taxes, vs. a postpaid credit. (This has the side effect of giving wealthier people, who pay higher marginal tax rates, a bigger credit. Then again, this is America.)

  4. Just like the Presto Card in Toronto ( – I’m sure they will create statments for the feds at the end of the year.

  5. When you recharge the Opus with any transit package (individual tickets to monthly passes), you get a printed receipt. This proof of payment doubles as your tax receipt for the Federal Income tax public transit rebate.

  6. Sometimes the most simple information is the hardest to obtain. My question is: how do we know when are cards are down to the last dime? And simply how much of a reduction in price (each time we use our card) do we get? After all, if i put $67 on my card, under the old cam system, it would mean unlimited usage for the month. But if i am being charged (i.e. money being reduced from the amount on my card)how much am i being charged? No one seems to want to answer, even in French. If we are landing up paying more than $67 dollars for the month, then we are being, in a sense, ripped off.

  7. To b.d.robertson,

    The fares remain the same. If you used to pay 67$ a month and use your pass as many times as you want, you can still do exactly the same.
    The Opus card does not deduct any money if you’re on a monthly pass, it still gives you unlimited access all month long.

    However, if you’re refilling the card with tickets, you’ll be able to check the balance of your card through the machines in the metro.

  8. It a nice site collecting all info about Coupon.
    I use to buy some of these coupon and i need this information.
    Thanks for your time to post this article.

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