TransLink's new target to roll out its troubled Compass card to the bulk of passengers is now end of 2015.

TransLink’s Compass card faces another year of delay

Tap out requirement may be suspended on bus system, smart card goes to university students next (with interactive timeline)

TransLink officials admit they could still be more than a year away from a full rollout of their troubled Compass card payment system, setting a new target of the end of 2015.

And when the full launch comes, TransLink may temporarily drop the requirement for passengers to tap out as they exit buses so they aren’t overcharged if they forget that step.

“This would be a temporary reprieve to get people used to using this card,” said TransLink communications vice-president Colleen Brennan, insisting the transportation authority remains committed to the original vision of a tap-in tap-out system.

The $194 million smart card and fare gates program was a directive of the provincial government to combat fare evasion and crime on SkyTrain.

But there’s still no indication of when the fare gates on SkyTrain – which were to have been operating by fall of 2013 – will be closed and begin holding back fare evaders who don’t pay.

It’s expected Compass cards will work as planned on SkyTrain, but there are fears of long delays as passengers board and exit buses due to slow card read times and errors on the mobile readers.

Passengers are supposed to tap in as they board and tap out again as they exit to records the actual number of zones travelled.

If they fail to tap out they’re charged the default fare for three zones even if they only travelled one zone.

Brennan said no decision has been made to suspend the tap-out requirement and if that’s done it would likely require a temporary change to a simplified fare structure that charges bus riders the same price no matter how far they go.

More than three quarters of TransLink’s 215 bus routes only travel within one zone anyway and never cross a zone boundary.

But Brennan was unable to say if TransLink has explored other alternatives, such as designing a different solution for the 52 bus routes that span two or three zones and making the default fare one zone for the rest.

The multi-zone buses may also be susceptible to fare evasion if passengers tap out on a reader without actually exiting and then ride an extra zone or two.

One possibility under consideration, Brennan said, is some sort of incentive system to reward passengers who tap out if it becomes voluntary.

Post-secondary students on U-Passes will be the next to get Compass cards in a series of waves starting in January and running through summer.

West Coast Express users would likely be next, Brennan said.

She said performance of the Compass card system has been improving, but would not reveal test results.

Previously, TransLink cited unacceptable delays in bus readers detecting cards, as well as high error rates.

TransLink wants a full tap-in tap-out system so it can eventually replace the three-zone fare system with distance-based pricing and so it can get precise data on passengers’ travel patterns.

One group pushing TransLink to pause or eliminate the tap out requirement is the bus drivers union.

Nathan Woods, president of Unifor local 111, said passengers will be angry about delays or paying too much due to system errors or their own mistakes and may take out their frustration on drivers.

But he said the union is also worried that TransLink’s ongoing service optimization program – where it shuffles bus service from underused routes and times to where there’s more demand – will go into overdrive if transit planners glean the locations and times that passengers board and exit the system.

“They’ll have exact evidence of where the ridership is when people tap out,” he said, arguing service is already being cut in some neighbourhoods where TransLink decides there’s insufficient ridership to justify frequent service.

Asked why the union would resist service optimization, Woods said drivers’ stress levels rise as buses become more congested and less time is built into schedules for washroom breaks and recovery time.

Click left and right within our interactive timeline below to view the history of the project.Mobile device users click here .

Just Posted

Former U.S. Olympian urges audience at TWU to stay true to themselves

‘I made the decision to lie,’ says Marion Jones

Rainfall warning issued across Lower Mainland into the weekend

50 to 70 mm of rain expected to fall starting overnight Friday and into Sunday morning

Husband pleads guilty in relation to 2009 killing of Kulwinder Gill

Abbotsford woman died in hit-and-run conspiracy

Crash closes 264 Street in both directions

Crash closes 264 Street during afternoon commute on Thursday

‘Hearties’ descend on Langley

Fans of TV show ‘When Calls the Heart’ have gathered in Langley for the Hearties Family Reunion

VIDEO: ‘Lyle the singing pig’ searching for home

SPCA say the pig is ‘not opera-ready’

Man in custody linked police search near Salmon Arm

Police have not connected arrest to search at Salmon River Road property

‘Hearties’ descend on Langley

Fans of TV show ‘When Calls the Heart’ have gathered in Langley for the Hearties Family Reunion

B.C. search groups mobilize for missing mushroom picker

Searchers from across the province look for Frances Brown who has been missing since Oct. 14.

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

Most Read