Beta tester weighs in on Compass card experience
I am a beta tester of the Compass card, and as such I have discovered that I am not a big fan of TransLink [“ Mayor wants TransLink to be accountable”, September 19-26]. That’s because its method seems to be to find the most difficult, confusing way to implement changes and then force them on the public whether the public wants them or not.
Case in point: the current fare boxes. When I returned from Seoul, Korea, in 1998, I wrote a letter to the transit system. It detailed how Seoul’s transit system was not only paper-free and cheaper than ours, but significantly easier for drivers and users. When the new fare boxes came in, they were the opposite of easy and user-friendly, as we all know. They slowed down boarding times, they seem to break down a lot, and they are certainly not paperless.
When TransLink finally decided to get an electronic fare card, I was hopeful, but as a beta tester, I have found that the system is, once again, completely the opposite of user-friendly. Users are charged a full three-zone fare on any transit they use, whether they travel three zones or not. And if, by unlucky chance, they forget to “tap off”, they pay for three zones even if they have only travelled one.
Again, instead of speeding the process of getting on and off transit, this is going to slow people down because they have to remember to tap off when getting off the bus or SkyTrain. We all know that people love to congregate in the back-door area of the buses, blocking those portals and tapping points. Who on a rainy day, when they just want to get home while listening to their iThingy or reading their ebook, is going to remember to tap before they struggle to get off the crowded bus?
The system, in my opinion, is deeply flawed, unfriendly, and a big rip-off.
Imagine all the ESL students here, many of whom are not spectacularly wealthy, not knowing that they have to tap the card upon exiting, and getting charged for three zones every time they ride transit and not knowing how to seek redress? TransLink is going to walk away with hundreds of thousands of extra dollars every year if the current Compass card plan goes ahead, and all of that will be taken from people who are not aware of how to use the system.
On top of that, imagine the workers who will get the angry calls and emails from riders who know they did not spend the amount that TransLink claims they did. The verbal abuse these folks are going to have to deal with will be horrific.
Unless TransLink makes substantial changes to the way it plans to charge people for the cards, I will most certainly not be using a Compass card and will be riding my bike a lot more. Or maybe even buying a car.
> S. Enns / Vancouver