Compass Cards can be purchased at a variety of locations around the Lower Mainland
With the new year here, TransLink is getting serious about implementing the Compass Card system.
About 375,000 people have now signed up for Compass, more and more fare gates are now closed, and paper monthly passes have been phased out. There have also been glitches and hiccups in the roll out.
We’ve collected a checklist of information you’ll need to know as the system shifts into full gear.
As of January 1st, transit riders who use monthly passes are now required to have a Compass Card. That means no more paper monthly passes.
Like the paper Monthly Passes, riders still have unlimited travel within the zones they have purchased.
The difference now is that they will have to use the Compass Card to tap in and and tap out at SkyTrain or SeaBus stations or risk being charged a heftier fare.
Compass cards can be purchased at SkyTrain, Compass customer service centres, or anywhere transit products are usually sold.
TransLink says about 80,000 people have now loaded monthly passes onto their Compass Cards.
Paper ‘FareSaver’ tickets are still available but are also being phased out. TransLink says sales of FareSaver tickets will end this month, and are no longer being restocked at retailers.
It says it will continue to accept the tickets for rail and SeaBus travel until the fare gates close, and for bus indefinitely.
Tap in, tap out
If you are riding the SkyTrain, SeaBus, or Westcoast Express you need to tap in and tap out.
If you forget to tap out, you’ll be charged for a full three-zone trip, even if you’re only going one zone.
Riding the bus
That means bus rides between any two points in TransLink’s system are a one zone fare.
It also means you only need to tap in when you ride the bus, no need to tap out.
Fare gates and fare checks
TransLink won’t say when all of the gates will be closed, other than to say it’s coming soon.
Just because the fare gates aren’t in operation yet doesn’t mean you don’t need to pay. You can even be dinged if you forget to tap in.
TransLink says transit police are equipped with hand-held scanners able to read a compass card.
Problems with the devices emerged earlier this winter, meaning officers weren’t writing tickets from them. But TransLink says the devices should be fully operative some point this month.
Register your card online. Doing this means that if you lose your card, you will be able to go online and cancel it, saving the monthly or pre-pay balance you’ve loaded onto the card.
If you don’t register the card and lose it you’ll be out of luck, even if you have a receipt proving payment.
If you’re just using transit once, or for one day, you can buy a single use paper ticket from any Compass vending machine.
But be careful with it. The tickets have a radio chip inside used to tap in and out of the system – if they get folded or damaged, the chip can fail making the ticket useless.
TransLink says all information collected is done so under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
But if you register your card, TransLink will collect your name, address, email and phone number.
Your personal information will be kept on record for two years, even after you unregister your card.
TransLink says your info could be shared with providers with services related to Compass delivery, or with police when authorized by law.
Also, if you happen to be using a Compass vending machine to check your balance, be sure to log out.
While the machines don’t display your personal information, they do show your travel history which someone else could see.
The Compass roll out hasn’t been without its bumps. Many riders are still forgetting to tap out, meaning they are charged a full three zone fare, even if they are only travelling one zone.
Other riders have reported problems tapping in, requiring the card to be tapped multiple times before the sensor read it, and causing potential traffic jams at the fare gates.
Yesterday, there was also a problem with customers activating Monthly Pass Compass Cards, with transaction failing to register for several hours. The cards are supposed to work withing two hours. TransLink has apologized, and says the problem has now been resolved.
If you’re having trouble with the Compass system, your best bet is to call TransLink customer service at 604.398.2042.
However, you may need to be patient. TransLink is reporting higher than usual call volumes as people adjust to the new system.