Compass Card and the loss of the Employee Pass Program

So the end is nigh for FareSaver tickets and the Employee Pass Program.  I personally will not miss either.  I would much prefer to have a Stored Value on my cards.  However, the loss of the Employee Pass Program may be larger than expected.  At least, that’s what I imply from Todd Litman’s research on Local Funding Options for Public Transportation [PDF].

from Atlantic Cities

Of all the funding options that Litman looked at, Atlantic Cities highlighted Bulk Passes as an effective avenue of raising revenue without raising fares.

The highest-scoring transit funding option was discounted bulk passes. These are passes sold in bulk to certain groups of people — often students or local workers. The revenue potential is modest, because the riders get a deal, but the passes create rider loyalty over the long term, which increases funding stability. The programs are also equitable, encourage transit use and transit-oriented development, and have a high rate of public approval.

So with the loss of things like the Employee Pass Program, TransLink could potentially be losing loyalty.  However, Litman points out in his paper that the disadvantages are that a bulk pass program “increases transit service costs and so may provide little net revenue.”the So there is definitely a trade-off in losing something like the Employee Pass Program. The media has covered the loss of the Employee Pass Program already, but TransLink has continually pointed to the 14% discount with the Compass Card when paying for a ride.  I’m not sure how that stacks up to the monthly fare discounts, but we will have to crunch the numbers in January 2014 when Compass is expected to be fully launched.

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