Arc  (formerly Smart Fare) allows customers to pay for transit using a electronic card payment system. Strathcona County Transit (SCT) and municipal transit systems in the region acquired technology that allows for fare payment using compatible smart cards with the system. The "tap and go" fare payment system makes paying for transit simple and makes travel across the region easier for customers, since one account can be used on all participating transit systems, including Strathcona County Transit, Edmonton Transit and St. Albert Transit.

Transit customers can set up their “account”, allowing them to load value. Then, customers simply tap their Arc card on the reader as they board the bus. Customers still have the option to use cash in the fare box for a single trips.

For everything about the Arc program, to register your card and to add value to your purse, visit - or call the Arc call centre at 1-888-302-0001 to answer individual questions


How Arc works

  • Customers will be able to use an Arc card to tap on/off transit and pay a flat fee for their trip. 

  • A fare cap will ensure no customer will pay more than a maximum amount set for their profile over a certain period.  

  • Funds added to their online Arc account will be available immediately.

  • If customers lose their registered Arc card, they can transfer their account balance to a new replacement card.


The Arc card advantage

The advantage of using an Arc card is that all your trips on one service contribute towards the monthly cap for that service. For example, in Phase 1, the monthly Strathcona County commuter cap is $108.50 or a $100 monthly cap for an ETS regular adult fare user.

After a customer reaches their monthly cap, they will ride for free for the remainder of the month. This encourages customers to purchase and use an Arc card, and rewards frequent transit riders.

Arc technology

Arc card reader

Arc Card reader

The Arc card readers are now installed on most participating transit agency buses. Customers using an Arc card as their fare payment must tap on and off using these readers.

Arc vending machine

Arc vending machine

Arc card vending machines are installed at all LRT stations in Edmonton, and key regional transit transfer locations (including Edmonton’s Kingsway Transit Centre, the Naki Transit Centre in St. Albert, the Bethel Transit Terminal, the Ordze Transit Centre, and at the Edmonton International Airport). These machines have the ability to sell and load Arc cards, and sell single use Arc tickets for any transit agency in the region. Regular transit fare vending machines in Edmonton that sell paper passes/tickets will remain in operation alongside the Arc machines.


Use Arc throughout the region

Post Secondary UPass Students - Fall 2021

The first group of riders to use Arc launched in fall 2021 as students at post-secondary institutions participating in U-Pass became the first eligible group to use the new system.

Phase 1 Pilot - testing began January 1, 2022

To ensure that Arc is rolled out thoughtfully, our phased approach is how we will get it right. It started with a pilot testing using a selection of customers from the following groups: 

  • Adult pass and ticket users

  • Transit staff across the region

Pilot testing happened throughout Edmonton, St. Albert and Strathcona County throughout 2022, and now, we are ready...

Phase 1 Launch - November 21, 2022

  • November 21, you can purchase your Arc card in person at the Bethel transit Terminal and begin to load value on to it, and to register it on-line at
  • December 1 - start tapping on and off buses throughout the Edmonton region and build towards your monthly cap (Strathcona County Transit's commuter cap continues to be $108.50)

For questions call: 1-888-302-0001 to speak with a Regional Arc representative.

Phase 2 launch - 2023 

Exact timing will depend on the results of testing and pilots.

Phase 2 of the Arc system will be expanded to include:

  • Senior Profiles

  • Youth Profiles

  • Customers eligible for other subsidies 

Phase 3 

Exact timing depends on the results of the Phase 2 roll out.

Phase 3 of the Arc system will be expanded to include:

  • Regional paratransit services (including Strathcona County Mobility Bus)


Smart fare versus smart card

SCT and regional partners are acquiring a Smart Fare, rather than a Smart Card, system. Smart Fare technology is very similar to the way you use a bank card with your bank. It uses an account-based set-up, meaning the account information stays on-line. If a customer were to lose their Smart Fare card, they could replace it without losing their account credit or fare purchase. Loading the Smart Fare account is instant. Once a customer adds value, they can use it right away.

Smart Card technology is slightly older and has the value linked to the specific card – much like a coffee or gift card. If someone was to lose a Smart Card, they would lose the value on that card as well.



Arc (Smart Fare) project overview

Arc - The smart way to pay for and ride transit

Arc is the name of the Edmonton region's smart fare product. It symbolizes creating a path between two points - much like how transit connects us to vital services, supports and each other. 

It is an account-based electronic fare payment system that will make paying for transit easier and more convenient in the greater Edmonton region. Transit users in Edmonton, St. Albert, Strathcona County, Fort Saskatchewan, Leduc, Spruce Grove and Beaumont will all benefit from the same transit payment system when the program launches.

The system includes an Arc card that can be tapped when entering and exiting buses and LRT on all seven participating transit systems. With Arc, money is stored on a secure online account, not on the card.


Project history and updates

April 2013 – Council formally endorsed a joint application between the City of Edmonton, The City of St. Albert and Strathcona County to the provincial GreenTRIP program to help fund a Smart Fare system.

October 2014 – Executive Team received an update on the Smart Fare project.

2015 - The Government of Alberta approved GreenTRIP funding for this regional initiative, which will improve convenience for customers using transit service in the Capital Region. Strathcona County, Edmonton and St. Albert are also supplying some of the funds for this project.

Spring of 2016 - LTK Engineering Services was retained as the overall program manager for this project. LTK is experienced in Smart Fare implementation and has strong knowledge of the industry.

April 2017 – an In Camera Smart Fare update was provided to Council on the negotiations with the preferred vendor.

July 6, 2017 - The City of Edmonton announced the signing of a $31.4M contract with Vix Technologies. This clears the way to begin to design and build the Smart Fare technology over a three year period. Once the technology is in place, Vix will also be responsible to operate and maintain the modern electronic transit fare payment system for the region for 12 years. The system will serve multimodal transit systems in Edmonton, Strathcona County, and the City of St. Albert. The system design also allows it to be expanded to additional regional transit systems in the future.

Fall 2020 -Installation of smart fare validators had been begun on Strathcona County buses, St. Albert buses, and some Edmonton buses. 

Spring 2021 - Launch of the Arc brand and public announcement of the upcoming limited pilot.

January 2022 - Launch of the Arc phase 1 pilot with limited participants from across the region

November 2022 - Launch of adult products on Arc electronic fare system

Project funding:

  • Strathcona County              $6.3M (including Green TRIP funding)
  • City of Edmonton                $18.8M
  • City of St. Albert                 $2.2M

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Last updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2023
Page ID: 49793