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Compass Card concerns

TransLink to address ‘idiosyncratic issues’
transit system
Pirating the transit system will get a little bit harder as TransLink introduces the new Compass card.

Transit riders who use TransLink’s new Compass Card are going to have to remember to tap in when they start their bus trips and tap out so they won’t be charged for three zones.

Derek Zabel, senior communications adviser for TransLink, said a customer contact centre will handle calls from those who forget to tap out.

On whether refunds will be granted he said, “That will pretty much be idiosyncratic to the person’s situation.”

The Compass Card is a reloadable electronic fare card to be used in Metro Vancouver. It will replace all of TransLink’s passes and tickets, including those for West Coast Express.

The revelation that those who pay cash on buses will have to pay a second fare upon transferring to rail sparked a furor last week. TransLink estimates 6,000 of its 1.2 million daily riders pay bus fares with cash and transfer to rail.

Zabel said similar systems in London and Paris have proven successful with tourists.

“A lot of people do keep their Oyster card as a keepsake,” he said, referring to London’s system. “If they go back they’ve got their Oyster card, they can load it up on the their home computer.”

He noted all Compass users, including casual users and low-income riders, would benefit from a 14 per cent discount on fares paid with the card.

TransLink estimates converting bus fare boxes to issue tickets that could access fare gates at rail stations would cost $25 million. Retrofitting some of the vending machines on rail platforms to accept magnetic strip bus tickets is estimated to cost a minimum of $9 million.

Compass Cards can be obtained for a $6 refundable deposit from fare dealers, which Zabel have yet to be determined.

Some agencies give bus tickets to low-income people and Zabel said TransLink is talking to different groups on how it can support them.

Five thousand successful applicants will  test the Compass Card system in September.

Faresaver tickets will be phased out by Jan. 1. Faresaver ticket prices remained the same when fares were last raised, so those who travel three zones with Faresavers may notice smaller discounts with the Compass Card.

Zabel said tapping in and out wouldn’t slow bus loading and offloading because tapping takes less than a second.

Having riders tap in and out will provide TransLink with data to help improve the transit system.

Zabel said the number of transit police wouldn’t be decreased when fare gates close.

The transition to the Compass Card will continue “well into” 2014.

“We’re not going to close the gates until we’re absolutely certain that people know how to travel onto the system using a Compass Card,” Zabel said.