TransLink rolls out "tap to pay" feature allowing credit-card use at fare gates and on buses

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      TransLink has launched its new “tap to pay” function, which allows commuters to pay with contactless credit cards and mobile wallets at fare gates and on buses.

      Launched Tuesday (May 22) with the intention of giving travellers—especially tourists and infrequent transit riders—a convenient alternative to Compass cards, the feature makes TransLink the first transit authority in Canada to offer credit-card and mobile-wallet payment options within its system.

      To utilize tap-to-pay, users simply tap their Visa or Mastercard credit card, or a device with an Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay wallet, directly on TransLink’s card readers at SkyTrain fare gates or on buses. Like with the Compass card and tickets, commuters using credit cards must still tap out after exiting the SkyTrain. (Buses are tap-in only.)

      The customer will be charged one adult fare ($2.85), which will appear on their credit-card statement. This process negates the need for Compass cards, tickets, and exact change on buses, and helps relieve congestion at SkyTrain fare gates before and after major concerts and sporting events in the region.  

      However, Compass cards are still recommended for regular transit riders as they are the only payment method that offers users a discount ($2.20).

      “Tap to Pay is about giving our customers more choices,” said Kevin Desmond, TransLink CEO, in a press statement. “If you’re an everyday transit user then you are going to want to keep using the Compass card for its discounted rates. If you’re a visitor to Vancouver, or you’re going to a concert or sporting event and only ride transit on occasion, tapping a credit card or mobile wallet is a new option for you to get on our system quickly and easily—no ticket line ups and no need for cash.”

      With the rollout, TransLink is reminding commuters to avoid “card clash”—an instance that occurs when “multiple payment methods are tapped on a card reader at the same time”—by removing individual Compass or credit cards from their wallets, phone cases, or other covers before reaching the card reader.

      This will prevent the system from charging the first card that it detects, rather than the one intended for payment.

      To inform Vancouverites about tap-to-pay, TransLink has partnered with Visa to have actor Morgan Freeman voice various transit announcements that will be heard at SkyTrain stations and on select bus routes from June 4 to July 29. Freeman is a longstanding spokesperson for Visa and has narrated a large number of the company’s ads over the years.

      Follow Lucy Lau on Twitter @lucylau.