Compass Gates and Bus Transfer Tickets

8033912646_c1e2f8042eIt looks like the blogosphere and twittersphere are happily talking about today’s article in the 24 Hours Vancouver about the bus tickets not being accepted at SkyTrain stations once the Compass Card is fully implemented.

It looks that may be the case.  The bus drivers union is definitely afraid of the backlash that their members may face as cash-paying transit riders will be complaining about paying once at the bus fare box and again at the SkyTrain station to get through the Compass card gates.

Stephen Rees makes an interesting point on his blog.

Why was there no magdip reader on the new faregates? There are probably fewer faregates than buses. Or no magdip reader on the machines that sell the Compass cards? All made by Cubic, of course. And when the electronic bus fareboxes were specified the idea of adding other media was supposed to be a bolt on extra that would be easy to install.

So why weren’t magnetic card readers installed in the gates to allow the bus tickets to be used?  Good question.  I’m not sure there’s an answer to that.

Another possible solution to this problem may be to have an attendant at the gate in the transition period to allow passengers with valid paper fares to get through.  And TransLink thought they might save on somebody’s salary by not needing manned gates?  Good luck.  Most of other transit jurisdictions with gates still need a person there to monitor things.

In the newspaper version of the 24 Hours article, there’s a highlighted quote about how some people who pay cash for the bus cannot string together $40-80 at anytime during a month.  This may be true.  However, if the Compass is going to be like a cash card, I would imagine you can put whatever amount you’d like on the card.  I think a minimum of $5 is reasonable and then any multiple of $5 from there on up.  I’m not sure why that quote is there because it doesn’t sound like an informed quote.  It seems like a quote meant to stir things.

Hopefully, when the Compass beta test starts rolling, we will see what other issues affect the new smartcard.  Now, we only need TransLink to actually listen to its beta testers no matter how critical the comments may be.  And not just make a new executive decision like they did in the card-naming contest that was scrubbed in favour for new names.

7 thoughts on “Compass Gates and Bus Transfer Tickets

    1. Haha. I guess I could have, but I was only looking though my own photos. I don’t think I have one of my own photos of a transfer.

  1. Stephen:

    If you think about it, as well, these validated FareSavers won’t get you through the new SkyTrain gates either. Yes, they are phasing these FareSavers out, but the FareSavers have the same magdip technology that the transfers have.

    I personally think that TransLink should never have gone magdip when they introduced it about a decade ago. Smart card technology was already out there and they could have saved us this unnecessary dual upgrade. That’s my two cents. I know it’s probably all more complicated than what I make it out to be.

  2. “So why weren’t magnetic card readers installed in the gates to allow the bus tickets to be used? ”

    I have an answer to that question. Cost. And in the future, those faresavers will be phased out anyways.

    As you have been to hong kong, you probably know the efficiency of the Octopus. These cards are as cheap as gift cards, and cost probably $2 each. Translink will sell them for reportedly $6, but will upload a $5.50 3 zone fare on each. The fact is that in the future, smartcards will result in the eventual phasing out of paper tickets. There is little reason to include a magnetic slip if they will be obsolete in 5, 10 years.

    And about all that transit bashing in the vancouver observer. Half of the problems can be blamed on the provincial government or mayor’s council for denying funding. The rest of the things are simply Translink making decisions to move forward. The planners at Translink are honest, and truly understand the issues in this region. We may not agree with their every decision, but we must look at this from a broad perspective.

    Finally, here is a report of the ROI of the compass card: Just to note, the compass would have worked just as well without faregates. And it would have cost less than half the 171 million. The faregates were never a translink priority, but the smartcard was.

    1. Kyle. I got to agree with a lot of what you’re saying there. I do hope those magnetic slips will be obsolete too.

      However, the reality is that there needs to be a transitional period that will allow both for a while. The Hong Kong system actually allowed both magnetic and RFID passes to work beside each other for quite a while. I’m not sure if the magnetic strip tickets have been phased out yet. In any case, I don’t think it’s worth the cost to implement new fare boxes on buses at this time like TransLink says. You just wish the implementation was a little better planned.

      Again, we haven’t even gotten to the test phase yet. I’m sure a lot is still in the air and changes may still take place for the better.

      Also, thanks for the link.

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