As BC Transit continues to add to its fleet and gradually convert the more than 1,000 buses to electric power by 2040, each new bus also needs a new farebox.
Earlier this year, BC Transit held an executive meeting on the transition from the current fareboxes to the new electronic fare collection system.
Someone joked that they should consider buying used fareboxes on eBay.
“We all laughed at the idea,” said president and CEO Erinn Pinkteron in a recent newsletter to staff. “However, after trying unsuccessfully to come up with other options, we realized quickly that we had nothing to lose by considering this further.”
With new buses being delivered in 2020, and BC Transit’s new electronic fare collection system in the early stages, project managers needed to know what fareboxes they should be installing, she said.
“At just over $13,000 per bus, it is a tough decision to purchase our existing fareboxes when we know that we will be phasing them out.”
In fact, as the use of cash continues to decrease in the daily routine of Canadians, BC Transit is in the process of moving its customers to a “bring your own ticket” model. It means the use of a ticket on a phone, or monthly pass, and they see a future where the cashboxes will be much simpler and less expensive than the existing one.
“We contacted almost every transit agency in North America that uses Cents-a-Bill fareboxes, hoping they had some to spare,” Pinkerton said.
They had scoured eBay and other sites unsuccessfully when one of BC Transit’s own mechanics told them about a Facebook group dedicated to transit memorabilia and bus parts.
“We joined the group and called the moderator,” Pinkerton said. “[They] put us in contact with three vendors in California that, combined, had 28 fareboxes for sale.”
A small team of BC Transit employees flew to California, rented a U-Haul truck and purchased the fareboxes, Pinkerton said, adding it was a challenge getting the equipment back to Victoria. The team drove to the U-Haul full of fareboxes to the warehouse in Las Vegas of bus-building company Alexander Dennis, whose staff packaged them on pallets and shipped them.
“Four days later, our fareboxes arrived and we were able to have them service ready for about $2,500 each, including all the adventure costs to get them,” Pinkerton said.
Compared to the cost of purchasing new it saved almost $300,000.