Case Studies

Digital passes for smooth student transit

In the past, many university students in Fredericton could use their student ID card as their bus pass. 

For Fredericton Transit, this system posed some challenges, particularly around validating legitimate IDs. There were cards from two different institutions – St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick Graduate Students’ Association – and a number of versions, depending on when a card was issued. The cards were tricky for bus drivers to check quickly, especially after dark. And then the universities changed their internal validation processes. 

“It made it really complicated,” says Meredith Gilbert, manager of transit and parking services for the City of Fredericton. “The administrative role for validating student passes was becoming more challenging.” 

A Better Way
Fredericton turned to HotSpot, which launched a digital transit pass for students at St. Thomas University and for UNB’s graduate students in September 2019. The rollout has been smooth. Students simply create an account on the HotSpot website or in the app using their student ID number, which is validated against a list provided by the universities’ registrars. 

“Overall, it’s been going really well,” Meredith says. “We’ve had strong enrolment. It’s giving us better insight into usage. And the new digital pass has a number of features that make it much easier for our operators to validate in real-time.” 

There’s a clock on the pass that operators can corroborate with the display time on their tablets. Operators can also ask pass holders to tap an image in the app. If it is a valid student pass, it changes colour. 

Long-Standing Partners
The digital student transit passes are just the latest service HotSpot has provided to the City of Fredericton, which was an early adopter of its parking solutions. 

“Our ongoing relationship working with HotSpot on parking made working with them for a transit pass for our student population an easy transition,” Meredith says. “And the student pass is giving us some perspective on our ability to potentially move into digital payments for other users, such as our general ridership.”

She praises HotSpot’s “hands-on” approach to customer service. 

“Their tech response is 24/7 and they’re very responsive to customer comments,” Meredith says. “They’re easy to get ahold of. And they’re eager to know that we’re satisfied.”