Compass U-Pass

Compass Card Reader (flickr/Steve Chou)

Something happened this past Friday for transit in Vancouver. The first of the U-Pass BC Compass Cards rolled out. I’m surprised that TransLink is not tooting their horn more in this case. This is a big step in the implementation of the smart card system. Perhaps all the technical glitches that have delayed the full Compass Card release are making TransLink hedge their bets and not make a big splashy announcement.

I only found out about this key step in the Compass Card rollout via a TransLink electronic newsletter. In this initial rollout, only a small group of students at a few institutions will have the card.

During Wave 1, a small group of students from Douglas College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology and University of British Columbia will be selected to get Initial Release Compass Cards. In mid-January, Wave 1 schools will notify selected students where and when they can pick up their cards. Schools will provide information on how to load a U-Pass BC onto a Compass Card. Once they’ve loaded their U-Pass BC, Wave 1 students can start tapping in and tapping out February 1!

I must say, though, it’s not entirely clear how students go and get their new Compass Card passes. A UBC webpage says that students must link their U-Passes to the new Compass Card, but there’s no clear instruction on how to do that.

The more I read this, the more I understand why the announcement wasn’t bigger. This small group is still really a trial group to test how the U-Pass and Compass Card will work out. Still, it’s a big step if the smart card provider, Cubic, can get things right.

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