Compass Card system could double-charge some bus users
CTV British Columbia
Published Wednesday, August 14, 2013 1:18PM PDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 14, 2013 9:03PM PDT
When the new Compass Card transit system rolls out this fall, bus riders who paid with cash will no longer be able to use their transfers to get onto the SkyTrain.
Instead, they’ll have to pay a second time to open the new fare gates.
TransLink is encouraging everyone to purchase a Compass Card, which is a better deal than buying individual fares. But it won’t be possible to buy a Compass Card at a bus stop or on the bus, so if you show up for your bus without one, you’ll be paying in cash -- making transferring to the SkyTrain cost extra.
Gavin Davies, vice-president of the bus drivers’ union, isn’t impressed.
“At first, we thought they were joking,” he said. “How can you have a system where it’s all one system, yet somebody riding a bus can’t get on the SkyTrain with their ticket?”
Davies doesn’t buy TransLink’s argument that only a small portion of bus riders will be affected, as he said a quarter of travelers currently pay with cash.
“It’s not just a handful of people. This is a lot of people that are going to be seriously inconvenienced,” he said.
He’s concerned passengers might take out their anger on transit employees.
A group of citizens have launched a petition calling on TransLink to reconsider the transfer issue.
TransLink’s Chief Operating Officer Doug Kelsey expressed confidence the Compass program should make it easier for anyone who buys a card.
“Once you have the Compass Card, you'll just tap when you get on a bus, and tap when you get off,” he said. “Transfers will be less of an issue."
Compass tickets will be available for one-time use, but only at SeaBus, West Coast Express and SkyTrain stations, and at some other retailers. Compass Cards will be rechargeable, so TransLink suggests occasional transit users buy a card and keep at least a small amount of “stored value” to use anytime.
TransLink will start selling Compass Cards to the first groups of customers late this fall, and will continue to transition their system through the winter and spring. Bus tickets will still be accepted during the transition period, but once the system is fully in place, it will be Compass Cards only on the SkyTrain.