The Compass Card is Here!

As a selected beta tester for the new Compass Card, I am very excited to have the chance to use the card.  And here it is!  It just arrived in the mail yesterday.

Apparently, I’ve received the Concession version of the Compass Card.  The back of the card says:

This card may only be used by children 5-13 years, Secondary Students 14-19 years possessing a valid GoCard. Seniors 65 years or over with proof of age, or as otherwise permitted under the Transit Tariff.

I definitely don’t fall in that category anymore, but it’s simply to test the card.  I don’t think I’ve had a GoCard for almost 20 years now.  Haha.

I highly recommend that everyone get a Compass Card when it becomes available to the public.  All regular riders and part-time riders.  If you’re like me, a regular rider who regularly buys the monthly pass, then the card will save you from having to buy the silly paper monthly passes.  I can load a monthly pass on my card and have unlimited travel for my zone.  The cards should save TransLink some money in printing, but then they’ll lose the advertising space on the monthly passes.

For part-time riders, you should still get the card.  Load the card with a minimal cash amount that would cover you for a few transit rides.  Carry the card and use when needed.  It sure beats trying to dig out your FareSavers from the drawer.  I know I buy FareSavers and forget where I put them.  That’s money wasted sitting in my drawers.  They will eventually become part of my transit memorabilia, if I ever find them.  With the Compass Card, you can decide to load as much as you’d like.  You don’t have to pay $21 for 10 rides.  You could put in $10 and then just use it as needed. The only drawback that I’ve read about is that you get a 20% discount with FareSavers, but you will only get a 14% discount with rides.

Anyway, come September 9th, you’ll see a lot of people tapping on and tapping off of buses.  I even spotted somebody carrying their Compass Beta Card when they showed their monthly pass today.  More to come.

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.