TransLink says riders won’t lose benefits with new pass system

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      With fare gates coming into operation at SkyTrain and Canada Line stations next year, TransLink has yet to smooth out potential wrinkles in the new system.

      One involves a particular benefit enjoyed by riders with prepaid passes. On Sundays and holidays, two adults and four children aged 13 and under can travel on a single TransLink adult monthly fare card or West Coast Express 28-day pass, or an annual employer transit pass.

      “All we can tell you right now is that the offering will still be there,” spokesperson Ken Hardie told the Straight by phone. “How it will work—at this point, we don’t have that detail for you.”

      Except for Main Street Station in Vancouver and Metrotown Station in Burnaby—where they may be brought in at a later date—fare gates are being installed at all SkyTrain, Canada Line, and SeaBus stations. Riders will be required to tag in and out at turnstiles using an electronic fare card. It’s a $170-million project that TransLink claims will improve service and minimize fare evasion.

      “There’ll be a process by which people can still use their monthly pass in the same way they do now,” Hardie said.

      Last month, B.C. transportation minister Blair Lekstrom said during deliberations at the legislative assembly that the system will be tested starting in January 2013. It will become operational in May of the same year.

      Transit advocate Paul Hillsdon anticipates that the riding public will have to make quite an adjustment. “There’s a lot of logistical issues getting the new fare system to be equivalent to what we have now,” Hillsdon told the Straight in a phone interview.

      There are other matters related to fares that TransLink hasn’t resolved yet, according to Hillsdon, an SFU geography student who ran as an 18-year-old candidate for Surrey council in 2008. These include whether the three-zone system will remain in place, or whether TransLink will shift to distance-based fares.

      “If those trips become more expensive than they currently are, then they [riders] won’t be making those trips,” Hillsdon said. “So you start tampering with it and then it becomes ‘Well, how do we ensure that we maintain the same revenues that we have now?’ ”




      May 23, 2012 at 7:33pm

      i really doubt paul hillsdon is actually a transit advocate for the people. just sayin'.


      May 23, 2012 at 9:53pm

      TransLink says riders won’t lose benefits with new pass system...and then adds 13 more executives to the payroll.

      Ken Hardie

      May 24, 2012 at 7:16am

      TransLink will launch Compass using the current three-zone system, gather data and review options to move to a true distance-based fare structure. of_no_consequence, I'd be fascinated to know how you came up with 13 more executives. Last I saw, there was a reduction of one this year, and about 10 over the last three years.

      Kevin C

      May 24, 2012 at 11:13am

      I don't know Paul Hillsdon, but for my part I would love to see (well-priced) distance based fairs. There are issues to work out, I don't deny that, but some current problems (like one stop zone crossing) could be eliminated.


      May 24, 2012 at 5:58pm

      Of course, Ken. You're at the top of the Translink paper monster. I'm among the few left at the bottom who actually do something there.

      J-L B

      May 24, 2012 at 8:07pm

      TransLink transit smart card will not be any different than other transit smart cards widely used already in many towns around the world.
      One can load several types of fares, from tickets to monthly passes and even have "cash" to pay single fares (in many systems one can also use this cash to buy coffee, a newspaper etc.). The electronic cash will be handy for people that seldom use transit. Hopefully they will pay less than if using actual cash.
      Compass may not be the major player in the realm of transit smart card but they do have some experience.
      In the fall of 2011 they came up with the first Visa card in North America that is also a debit card and a transit card (Japanese and Europeans have used had multiple functions credit cards for a while).

      According to TransLink 2010 FAQ about transit smart cards, "...You'll "load" your card with either a fare product, like a monthly pass, or with the amount of money you choose... If you've chosen the pay-as-you-go option, your fare will be automatically calculated and deducted from the amount of money you've stored on your card......If you've loaded a fare product onto the card, like a monthly pass or other discounted fare product, readers will recognize them as valid fare options"...

      Some town, like London, have 9 fare zones, Berlin 6, while all French towns but Paris, both big towns--like Lyon-and small ones like Rennes, Le Mans etc. only have one fare zone. Paris used to have 8 zones, has now 5 only and may have only one zone by 2013.

      Straight readers that are transit users but not familiar with these transit smart cards should look at the fares of various transit systems around the world, preferably towns the size of Metro Vancouver or smaller (no point checking Tokyo, London, Paris etc. with huge transit systems) easily available on the internet in English or French--plus the local language, and and also Google "transit smart cards around the world"

      The chip that power transit smart cards (there are MANY uses for smart cards, besides transit) can also be set in cell phones. This has been done for years in Japan and is being implemented in some European towns.

      Steve Y

      May 25, 2012 at 11:37am

      The translink board is hopelessly incompetent.

      Jarett P

      Jun 29, 2012 at 2:25pm

      meh, they shouldn't bother with having different "fare products" to load on the card. Just load up money, and day/week/month passes are implemented as day/week/month maximums for fare deduction. Like have a regular distance-based fare that you charge everybody, up to a maximum of $10/day, up to a maximum of $40/week, up to a maximum of $85/month for a certain distance limit, with additional distance charges capping out at $150 a month. For student/consession/employee/annual etc. they could be actual different varieties of smartcard that look different, so it's easy to enforce by police just based on sight.

      That way transit users always get the best fare, and never have to worry about whether it's better to buy a 1 or 2 zone pass, or just tickets and no pass, especially for those that don't need to take the bus every day. Marginal and choice riders will be MUCH more likely to take Transit if they don't have to think about different fare options, buy tickets or a pass etc and are assured they'll always be paying the best fare.


      Feb 8, 2014 at 2:50pm

      for the trouble and cost of using transit in vancouver you can buy a car and ride in comfort.