Petition calls for TransLink to scrap plans for “double transit fee” on cash purchases

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      An online petition is calling for TransLink to scrap what critics are calling a “double transit fee” for cash-paying riders.

      “SkyTrain will soon not accept bus transfers with the new Compass Card system,” the petition’s website states. “Transit users will be forced to pay for a second transfer.”

      Compass is the name of a prepaid card-based payment system that TransLink plans to roll out before the end of the year.

      According to TransLink’s website, public transit users will still be able to pay for rides with cash, but tickets purchased for bus rides will not be transferable to SkyTrain and SeaBus services.

      “For bus trips, people paying by cash will be issued a paper "proof of payment" ticket,” it states. “These "proof of payment" receipts are good for transfers between buses; however, they will not provide access through faregates. Because of this, we strongly promote the use of Compass Cards containing a minimal stored value as a more flexible alternative for anyone making even occasional multi-modal trips.”

      News of the Compass system’s limitations for transfer options spread this morning (August 14) and quickly sparked an uproar on social media platforms.

      In the hours that followed, TransLink released a statement emphasizing that bus-to-train transfers will be permitted under the Compass system, as long as riders pay for their bus ride using a Compass card.

      “To be clear, you’ll be able to transfer from bus to rail with the Compass Card or a Compass ticket,” the release states. “It is only customers who purchase fares on buses with cash who will not be able to use those transfers to transfer to rail—approximately 6,000 customers per day out of our 1.2 million daily rides.”

      It goes on to claim that TransLink found it would be too expensive to upgrade bus fareboxes to allow for bus-to-train transfers on cash purchases.

      “We determined that converting bus fareboxes to issue passes that would access the fare gates would cost about $25 million, is not a cost-effective solution, and would take a long time to implement,” the release states.

      On July 30, the Straight reported that TransLink would enact a series of money-saving moves, including the elimination of free travel on Sunday and holidays for family members of monthly pass holders.

      That story noted that TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis was paid $382,954 in 2011. Six other executives, including Paddon, collected more than $240,000 in annual compensation.

      Last year, TransLink generated $1.42 billion in revenue and reported $1.43 billion in expenditures.

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      Aug 14, 2013 at 6:26pm

      Seriously the people in charge of running the transit system at Translink have absolutely no clue what the riding public wants and it's obvious NONE of them have even taken transit in the last 10 years... oh, let's raise fares... ooooo, let cut service... hey, lets charge cash fares double for transfers... Capital idea chaps! While you're at it, give yourselves a nice raise and bonus. After all it only seems fair since they have the mind of duck.

      A. MacInnis

      Aug 14, 2013 at 6:30pm

      It's instructive to visit Vancouver Island, to see how they run their system: they still use those little strips of paper with the time on them, same as Vancouver used to have 20 years ago or so. It seems kind of quaint and backwards on first blush, but when you think about it, that system is cheap, it's efficient, it requires minimal technology, and it's pretty hard for it to break down or cause problems like the ones noted above. Here on the mainland, though, we keep upgrading to more expensive, more complicated, more tech-intensive systems, which are instituted before the bugs are worked out... Maybe the way forward is the way backward?


      Aug 14, 2013 at 7:06pm

      This is very obviously a Translink screw-up. When they ordered the new gate system, they could have specified to the contractor to provide a reader system that was compatible with the existing reader/writer system. It wouldn't have cost anymore because the old reader system is already in existence and it would have been simply a matter of interfacing with the new gate system.


      Aug 14, 2013 at 7:28pm

      And they are trying to lure me out of my car. NOT!


      Aug 14, 2013 at 7:34pm

      Its just another example of the poor staying poor and the oblivious rich getting richer.

      Le Sigh

      Aug 14, 2013 at 8:13pm

      I am so happy to be moving out of Vancouver. The amount of money myself and others my age have to pay to get to our pathetic minimum wage jobs that we all have to have because despite going to University and graduating every place wants you to have at least five years previous experience in that field, which is now impossible because no one wants to actually give you that experience, so we work at crappy restaurants or work in retail. I'm ranting, but all in all it's crazy the amount of money put into the skytrain and buses over the four years that I've lived here. It's also absurd how much the cost has gone up as each year. When I visit the island or any other part of B.C I'm always shocked at how cheap it is and how easily and smoothly it runs.

      Ian King

      Aug 14, 2013 at 9:04pm

      Boneheaded decision from TransLink. Having an integrated fare system has been one of Vancouver transit's best features: a valid fare is just that, regardless of what mode you're using at the time.


      Aug 14, 2013 at 9:39pm

      The Skytrain stops well before bars close. The new fare system will prevent the poor from using efficient transport and limit their range. Who is TransLink seeking to service? Or more importantly, who are they seeking to eliminate?

      And the paranoiac in me wonders about the tracking capabilities of the Compass system.


      Aug 14, 2013 at 10:06pm

      Where Translink's communication has been especially poor is that they haven't explained in their releases whether paying on a bus via credit or debit card will be treated like cash (no transfers) or a compass card (transfers).


      Aug 14, 2013 at 10:21pm

      I knew this would happen months ago when they were on the radio describing the new system and had no answer if the tickets would work on both systems. A glib, smug and arrogant response that they would of course be ready for the changeover and of course they aren't at all.

      Another thing I knew ages ago is the new turnstiles can be easily fooled with an android device. Scan your ticket, and just keep adding fare to it using a commonly available app they've used in Seattle and SFO for years. Security defeated, walk right through the turnstiles. In fact, this makes fraud much easier since you can print the fake codes out and sell them anonymous mail order, and since there are no spot checks there's nobody to stop this. Before this fraud was not cost effective, since printing out a bunch of hologram paper forgeries was not worth the money. Now you can just recharge magstripes, or print barcodes to be read. Now the fraud is viable and somebody is going to do it en masse.

      GJ technocrats at Translink. These turnstiles could have been developed here, with security in mind and built here instead of buying a turnkey multi million dollar solution that's effectively garbage.