TransLink is set to launch its new Compass Card this year, but some travellers are confused about why you need to pay the maximum three-zone fare, even if you’re only traveling a short distance.

The Compass Card is a reloadable fare card and will be used for pay-as-you-go trips. It will eventually replace all of the current TransLink monthly passes and faresaver tickets.

A viewer named Linda wrote Steele on Your Side to ask why TransLink will charge a customer for more than the trip they are intending to take. For example, if you plan to travel in just one zone, you need to have enough money on your card to travel three zones.

TransLink says the system pre-authorizes the user for the maximum fare price, much like a hotel will pre-authorize your credit card prior to a reservation. When a user taps in with their card, the system has no way of knowing when that trip will end. But once the user taps out, Compass then charges the correct fare amount and ensures the balance, if a three-zone trip was not taken, is credited back to the card.

The user must remember to tap their card out when you get off a bus, or the SkyTrain, to make sure they are not charged the maximum fare.

TransLink says the system allows for more flexibility in travel because a user can decide to travel through as few or as many zones as they would like as long as the funds are available on their Compass card.

More than 1.2 million transit trips are made with TransLink daily.