TransLink is denying reports claiming that the official roll out of its Compass Card system has been delayed until 2014.
“We’ve always said implementation will begin in 2013 and that a full launch will happen closer to 2014,” TransLink spokesperson Jiana Ling told the Straight.
A follow-up email offers further clarification.
“The Compass project is on schedule,” Ling wrote. “Implantation will begin fall 2013, which includes beta testing (this begins September 9). After the testing period, we will begin robust educational programs where customers will be educated on what the Compass is and how to use it.”
On September 3, CBC News published a story on its website with the headline, “TransLink's Compass Card rollout delayed”. In that article, Ling was quoted as saying that the Compass system won’t be ready until 2014.
That report sparked concerns that there would be a period during which transit users would be forced to travel without existing discounted fare options such as FareSaver tickets, and also without the Compass card’s reduced rates.
Earlier this summer, TransLink announced that effective January 1, 2014, it would eliminate a number of discounted options for riders.
Free rides on Sundays and holidays for family members of monthly pass holders will come to an end. Also being discontinued is the Employer Pass Program, which provides for a 15-percent discount, and FareSavers booklets, which offer packages of 10 tickets at roughly a 20 percent discount compared to cash fares.
The Compass system will replace those forms of payment with cards that require preloading for riders to “tap” in and out of TransLink fare-paid zones. The cards will cost a $6 deposit and offer a 14-percent discount. Compass will also give riders the opportunity to register their cards, which will allow for TransLink to provide additional services such as auto-reload options and balance protection in the event of lost or stolen cards.
In a telephone interview conducted this morning (September 4), Ling described the CBC News report as “inaccurate”, and addressed concerns about a possible Compass delay creating a period of time when discounted transit fares would not be available.
“There will be a transition period where both the old fare and Compass card can be used simultaneously,” she said. “By having this transition period, it allows for our customers to get comfortable with the new system. When we feel our customers are comfortable with the new Compass system, we will officially launch it.”