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SkyTrain won’t take bus transfers with new Compass Card system

with 31 comments

Proof of Payment

But will not open the gates at SkyTrain or SeaBus

The story was broken by 24hours and took me by surprise.

I have actually turned down the offer from Translink to be a beta-tester for the Compass card, since I do not use the transit system very much these days. Car2go, walking and biking make up a lot of my trips and, after all, I am not a commuter now either. I carry pre-paid tickets, and the two zone ones still read $3.75. I also try to cut down on carrying change and use cards for most transactions.

I actually got a bit irritated the other day when I took a lot of bottles back to the liquor store. They gave me coins for them, but not enough to do anything with. “You can always use them on the bus” said the helpful clerk. (His cash register cannot issue a credit note, which could be used to help pay for the beer I was about to buy.) Since cash fares on the bus are already more expensive than my stock of prepaid tickets, why would I?

TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said that at $25 million, it was too expensive to upgrade all bus fare boxes so they would dish out Compass-compatible tickets.

If a passenger carries a bus-transfer pass to the SkyTrain, they will be told to get a Compass single-trip pass from a machine. There will be no trade-ins, nor will there be a discount for cash-only bus fares, Zabel said.

The new fare system itself is already uneconomic. Putting gates on SkyTrain was where all this started. Kevin Falcon, then Minister of Transport, ignoring all the facts and data except the opinion polls, insisted that the Proof of Payment system had to go, and that people would then “feel safer”. Nonsense of course. And he handed over tax dollars to do it

The province is providing $40 million and the Government of Canada is contributing up to $30 million from the Building Canada Fund to support the approximately $100 million in eligible costs for the faregates installation and related station improvements. The total cost for both the faregates and Compass card projects is approximately $171 million.

Why not enough to make the bus system compatible? It already will never ever pay for itself through reduction in fare evasion. So why not round up to $200 million?

Maybe because until the zone system gets replaced with fare by distance, a passenger who has paid cash on the bus and got a (card with a magnetic stripe) transfer already has valid proof of payment. If an actual person – like a SkyTrain attendant or Translink police officer – asks, that proof of payment shows the correct fare has been paid within the last 90 minutes.

The problem is that Translink has installed gates on SkyTrain that only stay open when someone waves a valid Compass card (with an rfid chip) at them. And if there is to be any real payback, they have to cut the number of people checking tickets on board. Which actually reduces security overall.

You could put the argument another way: why was there no magdip reader on the new faregates? There are probably fewer faregates than buses. Or no magdip reader on the machines that sell the Compass cards? All made by Cubic, of course. And when the electronic bus fareboxes were specified the idea of adding other media was supposed to be a bolt on extra that would be easy to install. At that stage, of course, we were never going to gate SkyTrain, let alone buy gates that only work with media from part of the system.

“It’s estimated only 6,000 customers (pay cash and transfer) a day, which represents a small percentage of our daily rides,” Zabel said.

So it’s okay to swindle 6,000 people a day, but worth spending $171 million to catch less than 4% of fare revenue thought to be lost to people who don’t pay at all?

The one thing that we have always been so proud of here is that we have a multimodal system, and one ticket works all of it. Janette Sadik-Khan (Transportation Commissioner for New York) was delighted when she discovered that here. Such a contrast to her city where MTA cards do not work on PATH or NJT trains within NYC. Or most ferries. “I feel like Charlie at the Chocolate Factory” she said “I’ve got a golden ticket!”

The people who use cash to buy a ticket and transfer will be those who use the system least. (Or as Renée Stephen points out, people who do not want to be tracked by Compass.) But will include visitors – who have the least incentive to buy a prepaid card and then have it as a useless and expensive souvenir. I send my son the stored value Metropasses we get whenever we visit him in New York. We still have our Paris Navigo cards – but we only bought one month’s travel on them. We can reload them, should we return, but when we left (in a taxi) there was no value left on them.

The unwary visitor to Vancouver already gets dinged, of course, if they pay cash from the airport to ride the Canada Line. It’s free to the car parks, and the now under construction shopping mall. But $5 extra for any further. Up until now we have mailed transit tickets to people who are coming to visit us from out of town. Unless we are picking them up at the airport of course.

I got quite annoyed recently when Councillor Andrea Reimer tweeted about upcoming fare increases (also due to Compass) “It’s like they don’t want us to use transit”. In only 140 characters it is hard to assign blame accurately. But this is yet another example of Translink’s tin ear as far as its users are concerned. Lack of funding is a problem – but not an excuse for theft.  I begin to think she was right.

I know my old books of tickets will be useless eventually – but I would expect Translink to have some method of loading my new Compass card with their value, or I won’t buy one until they do or I have managed to use them.

If a passenger has paid the correct fare and has proof of payment, the system is obliged to transport them. The inability of electronic systems to talk to each other cannot be used as an excuse for breaking that contract. Are proof of payment tickets issued on buses now going to read “not valid on SkyTrain”?

In other news 

I was going to ignore the Globe & Mail story (picked up by Sightline’s Daily) about driverless buses.  Translink is not really “considering” them in any realistic sense. The G&M was just plonking a CTV clip onto its web page anyway. Bizarre, since CTV is not paywalled and G&M is. And there is no actual content barring a short clip of a driverless people carrier at an airport somewhere. If the driverless bus is a segregated right of way BRT, how is that any different to what we have now? And if Google gets its way and there are already driverless vehicles in mixed traffic, why shouldn’t it be a bus or shared ride taxi too?

POSTSCRIPT

The estimated loss from fare evasion is “more than $7 million a year”

6,000 a day pay cash and transfer, will now have to pay again

6,000 x 350 x $5 = $10.5 million a year

I am enjoying the flurry of attention this  is getting on twitter. Even if it is clear that people read the tweet and respond to that, rather than read what I wrote in this blog. So instead of jumping into that fray again I am going to note a strategy that now occurs to me. Your level of comfort with this will determine if you use it or not. The Operator of the bus is NOT required to enforce the fare system. He/she is only required to inform you of the fare. Some have taken to saying to non-paying passengers “That’s between you and the transit police.” So tell the bus operator that you intend to transfer at the SkyTrain station, and you will pay the fare there as you do not feel it reasonable to be expected to pay twice. Show him/her that you have the fare ready – and state that the transfer issued by the bus fare machine is worthless.

I think that is lot easier than jumping the fare gate.

But you may find yourself talking to the legal system later. Assuming that this now viral story on social media does not cause Translink to do a rethink.

UPDATE Miranda Nelson has posted a list of what she thinks is wrong with Translink on the Georgia Straight which uses one of my pictures (thank you) and has a link to an on line petition against “the pay twice if using cash” policy.

FURTHER UPDATE Sept 27 Finally someone has seen sense at Translink – also from 24 hours

http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/2013/09/26/solution-proffered-to-avoid-double-payment

Written by Stephen Rees

August 14, 2013 at 10:52 am

Posted in transit

Tagged with ,

31 Responses

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  1. There’s another nugget in the 24 Hours story Stephen…

    …(Spokesperson) Zabel said TransLink expects most customers to use the Compass Card instead, as monthly and pre-loadable options offer a discount of up to 14% as a further incentive to buy…”

    Hmmmm…My one zone faresavers (= ‘incentive to buy’ @ $2.10 vs $2.75) currently save me (and folks who need those savings much more than I do) ~24%.

    So….I really do feel that Ms. Reimer was on to something with her Tweet (which was sent in the wake of the recent announcement of the intention to kill the faresavers, dead).

    .

    RossK (@RossK_)

    August 14, 2013 at 12:02 pm

  2. If I recall correctly the greatest anger was directed at the loss of discounted annual employee passes, which is a sort of UPass for grown ups.

    We always knew faresavers would be replaced by Compass, the bus transfers issue was news to me

    Stephen Rees

    August 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm

  3. Re: Ross:

    The faresavers were a 16% discount ($2.50 for $2.10) before last fare bump, when cash fares were raised but faresavers were not. If Compass preloads give 14% off on single-ride-stored-value (electronic faresaver equivalent), I’d consider that a reasonably fair trade.

    Jarek Piórkowski

    August 14, 2013 at 3:08 pm

  4. Jarek–

    Regardless, the 14% will not be coming off $2.50.

    Also…

    It will be ‘up to’ 14%.

    RossK (@RossK_)

    August 14, 2013 at 3:46 pm

  5. I think the bottom line is that passengers wishing to transfer to SkyTrain or Seabus must use a Compass Card. That’s a simple message.

    WRT Faresavers, they will be phased out as early as Jan 1, 2014 – see FAQs here:

    http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Compass-Card/FAQs.aspx

    And remember that you must “tap out” otherwise you’ll be charged the maximum fare (3 zones) because otherwise they won’t know how far you’ve travelled
    (like a parking lot charges you for a full day if you’ve lost your parking stub).

    Guest

    August 14, 2013 at 9:23 pm

  6. […] Stephen Rees makes an interesting point on his blog. […]

  7. But the system accepts open payment like credit and debit cards. And you apparently have to “tap out” with them at the end of your trip. So, the system can track my credit card between buses, but not between buses and the skytrain turnstiles?

    Slantendicular

    August 14, 2013 at 9:34 pm

  8. Looks like Seattle also has 2 different fare systems as well, although run by different organizations.

    The ORCA card is universal across local bus service (King Countty Metro, Pierce County Transit, etc). as well as the regional Sound Transit (LRT, Express Bus) – but local bus tickets will not allow transfers to Sound Transit services.

    See info under “Transfers” here:

    http://metro.kingcounty.gov/fares/index.html

    Guest

    August 14, 2013 at 9:42 pm

  9. Not sure how the bus transit routes are set up in these other cities with two systems not sharing the fare payments, however in Vancouver, almost all major bus routes lead now to a sky train station with the intent for people to transfer onto them to continue their journey. As a matter of fact, where I live they discontinued the bus past the sky train station so I am forced to walk to and from it in order to catch the bus or the train in their assuming all passengers care more about getting to the station to transfer from the bus to the train vs staying on the bus to get to their destination which may be blocks past it.

    For the casual one zone bus passenger, fare savers were the way to go and for little to low incomes, the difference between saving 24% and ‘up to’ 14% can be significant – especially considering the Compass Card will cost at least $6 for it’s first time use. If it’s lost or stolen say goodbye to another $6 to replace it and the inconvenience of either losing the cash value it had remaining or needing to cancel remaining balance – all fine and dandy if it’s loss is discovered right away, but again, as someone who uses public transit less frequently, that discovery may not be made until all remaining value on it is used up by someone else.

    Implementing these Compass Cards is not something many look forward to for financial reasons and their complicated use (tapping off the bus, the expensive risk of forgetting to do so, needing to top it up etc.), and now add this latest news that cash paying transit users cannot transfer onto the sky train without another payment, well, the ones who will be impacted most are the out of town visitors, casual riders and those on low or fixed incomes who can’t afford having extra cash sitting idle on a Compass Card that is used infrequently.

    Janice

    August 14, 2013 at 11:10 pm

  10. The reason advanced by Translink to not accept bus transfer is perfectly ludicrous, and doesn’t hold water at all:

    I am unaware of a faregate system not accepting magnetic ticket. Hong Kong, London, Paris…all do…

    there is no sound reason for Translink not doing that: the least they should do, is to outfit one TVM per station to allow the exchange of a magnetic ticket for a compass card…they just need ~50 of them to outfit all skytrain and seabus stations…

    Nothing unmanageable (the actual TVMs already do that with the add fare) and there is no way that can come even close to $25M.

    What we see here unfolding is probably a design mistake by translink, their communication department is trying to rationalize with some lame excuse, but it is probably a symptom of a larger mismanagement of the whole faregate/compass program:

    The deployment of the Compass system alone has been priced at $100M by Translink, when a very similar (Orca) has only costed $40M in Seattl: translink has not been able to explain why so much difference.

    …and now, we see that this astronomic price, doesn’t allow the handling of a single fare issued on a bus !

    There is lot of other problems, not including the fudging of the financial figure relative to the smartcard, by Translink, making all their communication around the faregate an equilibrum exercise which can’t be trusted at all (see for example my comment on http://buzzer.translink.ca/2012/02/the-costs-of-fare-evasion/

    Voony

    August 15, 2013 at 12:22 am

  11. Stephen Rees

    August 15, 2013 at 8:20 am

  12. another example of miscommunication, if not outright lie, surrounding the faregate/compass project:

    http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Compass-Card/Compass-Cards-and-Products.aspx still reads (at the time of this comment):

    Customers will still be able to pay by cash for single-rides on SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express and buses. Compass vending machines will issue electronic tickets, good for all transfers. The same 90-minute transfer limit applies.

    The page teach us another thing, I am afraid will be true:
    Note: Concession Compass Cards will not be sold at Compass Vending Machines.

    Why this limitation?
    it is a pure SW issue inside the TVM machine here, so virtually it costs $0 to continue offer the same service as today….Again here Translink makes the system customer unfriendly for no sound reason at all.

    Thought petition, are good (tweets by someone championing the closure of Robson street to Transit are laughable at best, so I prefer to ignore that). It is time of the council of mayors (and Translink board of director), step-up and draft a motion expressing their dissatisfaction about how the Compass/faregate card is unrolling.

    Voony

    August 15, 2013 at 8:56 am

  13. I qualify for a Concession fare at the end of February. It seems bizarre to me that I will then need a different Compass card.

    Stephen Rees

    August 15, 2013 at 9:06 am

  14. It’s probably a limitation in the vending machine’s ability to “assign” concession status to a generic Compass Card (so that the card readers only deduct concession fares each time it is used – since you do not show ID or enter your age when you go through a faregate).
    Conceivably, there should just be two stacks of concession Compass Cards in the vending machine – one for generic cards and one for concession-coded cards.

    Guest

    August 15, 2013 at 11:00 am

  15. that should read “..two stacks of Compass Cards…”

    Guest

    August 15, 2013 at 11:02 am

  16. I think there is a bit of an overreaction here. I’m a casual transit user that pays by cash and fare card, so I would normally by impacted by this. But I plan on getting a Compass card as soon as they come out, and I’m sure most others will as well. There’s no sense keeping stacks of transit tickets around anymore when I can load up a smart card on the Internet.

    If the experience in London and other cities is any indication, cash fares will drop dramatically once the smart cards are introduced. I was living in London when they jacked up the cash fares to encourage people to shift to the Oyster card. This (although unplanned and poorly communicated) is just another way of encouraging people to use Compass.

    canadianveggie

    August 15, 2013 at 5:57 pm

  17. You are absolutely right. As I explained, I prefer not to use cash and small change is a pain. The abolition of the penny did not go far enough. Why not nickels and dimes too? But that’s for me. The concern is for those who have to watch every nickel. For those who have very little, no prospects of more, and for whom even small changes – like $6 “deposit” to to get a Compass card is the difference between paying the hydro bill or having lunch. Such people do not spend much time reading, or commenting, on blogs.

    I understand that TransLink wants us to embrace Compass. It will suit them. That does not mean that it will suit all its customers equally and somebody, somewhere within that organization ought to have thought about that. Perhaps there were several – and they were dismissed summarily as “not being a team player” and worried about their future career, so they shut up. And the resulting mess is what we are discussing.

    This should not have happened in a well run organization, but it did. And TransLink does not need cheer leaders. It needs to listen to its critics, some of whom need to be fierce now and then to be heard.

    Stephen Rees

    August 15, 2013 at 8:16 pm

  18. […] The Translink news reported by 24h [1] and already discussed by Stephen Rees: […]

  19. “I qualify for a Concession fare at the end of February. It seems bizarre to me that I will then need a different Compass card.”

    I guess that will give you the opportunity to draft a post to explain how we can get back the $6 deposit
    (in London, you could got at the ticket counter of any Tube station, including LHR, but here in Vancouver where to go? could this “deposit” be a bait and switch tactic.

    also, 2 facts:
    1/ translink explanation for the fare increase is rubbish
    2/. translink has no legal right to impose a double fee to people buying their fare o bus.

    more detail here: http://voony.wordpress.com/2013/08/16/translink-the-faregate-and-the-scofflaw/

    Voony

    August 16, 2013 at 1:03 am

  20. I also agree with canadianveggie – i would avoid overreacting and see what transpires.WRT access for low-income groups.

    That being said, it would be unfair to TL to make them responsible for funding for low-income groups. We as a society should ask the harder question of why we fund access and what agency should properly fund it (ie, BC housing provides funding currently for books of faresavers to be distributed to low income groups) . If we do want TL to be responsible for low income groups, make sure there is clear funding pots for 1) TL’s ridership-maximizing mission and 2) TL’s social service mission.

    TL currently accounts for seniors, children and disabled riders with concession fares. Able-bodied low-income riders? It would be important to account for them too, but IMO that would fall out of TL’s mandate.

    Jarrett Walker had a good post on this:

    http://www.humantransit.org/2009/12/bail-out-new-yorks-transit-system.html

    mezzanine

    August 16, 2013 at 12:57 pm

  21. No one has suggested “funding for low income groups” from Translink. Merely that they treat everyone fairly and with respect. Charging people who use cash to pay their transit fare on a bus, and then expecting them to pay again to use SkyTrain or SeaBus is patently unfair.

    Stephen Rees

    August 16, 2013 at 5:09 pm

  22. IMO low income groups may have a rougher time adjusting for the compass card wrt to the deposit for the card and online access.

    If you are a working age adult with even moderate means, why wouldn’t you get a compass card? I see parallels with the bus-to-skytrain transfer disincentive with Treo’s ‘licence plate processing fee’ for non-registered vehicles.

    That being said, I would agree that TL has to do a better job of PR. There are benefits of the Compass and we have the roll-out period to discuss the system and propose changes. If they can cancel changes to the (scope-creeping) Taxi-saver program due to public pressure then they can change compasss, but we must be able to determine what the alternative is, and how we fund that.

    mezzanine

    August 16, 2013 at 7:43 pm

  23. why wouldn’t you get a compass card?

    because it will be 12% more expensive than the current fare saver…(say the new Tariff rule.: $2.35 vs today $2.10:

    it is where the 14% come from: $2.35 vs $2.75, notice how Translink communication carrefully omit to mention the real price anywhere (it is hidden in the link provided here), since it will highlight an unpreceeded fare increase.

    So, here who is affected is way much more than 6,000 people (what is not a credible numberto start with as stated in my blog):

    Notice again how Translink is going clearly off-track: if you don’t call their communication “lies”, i am not sure what you will call “lies”, but beyond that is the fact Translink outpassed its rights:

    here is what I say on Pricetags:
    All short term tariff change need to be agreed by the board of mayors, that is the SCBCTA law, and Jarret Walker gives us the reason why we have such a law (like in any other transit system in the western world):

    Simply cutting a [..] services is a value judgment, not a technical decision. It reflects a community’s about the community’s view about why it runs transit. In an ideal democracy, making those decisions is not the task of managers or consultants. It’s what we pay elected officials for.

    That is the point…

    Translink has clearly crossed a red line, and that is simply unacceptable.

    Voony

    August 18, 2013 at 10:25 pm

  24. I see I’m late to the party again. The main topic has already been covered in detail so I’ll stick with personal experience.

    We’re overdue for an increase in the cost of FareSavers. I don’t understand why TransLink changes their cost independently of the cash and monthly tariffs.

    I’ve often wondered why so many of my fellow commuters use FareSavers instead of buying a monthly pass. Then I did the math.

    Monthly pass: $91
    Commuting to/from work in September 2013 using FareSavers: $84

    I’m currently part of an employer pass program so my transit fare is a payroll deduction and I have a pass valid for the entire year. That’s very convenient and the 15% saving is great.

    There are some drawbacks, however.
    1. I can’t lend my pass to anyone else like a regular monthly pass.
    2. I pay the same amount no matter how many times I take the bus.

    I hear you saying “but isn’t it a good thing that your next trip is ‘free’?”

    Yes and no.

    No because I paid the same amount for 24 trips in August as I will for 40 in September.

    $77.35 / 40 trips = $1.93 per trip
    $77.35 / 24 trips = $3.22 per trip (significantly more than the cash price)

    And no because that discourages me from considering cycling to work part time.

    UBC students figured that out right away when the U-Pass was introduced. In the old days roughly 4% of UBC commuters rode a bicycle. The most recent figures I’ve seen showed current cycling mode share barely above 1%.

    Why buy a bike, gear, clothing, etc., pack a change of clothes, find shower facilities and then struggle up the Point Grey hill when the bus will take you there for free?

    Additional free trips for me are of limited appeal. Many of my non-commuting trips involve family members who cannot justify monthly passes so additional trips aren’t actually free, they’re just discounted by one fare. Taking kids on the bus can be a big enough hassle that it’s usually worth choosing a destination within walking distance or taking the car instead.

    When the employer pass program ends I’m going to evaluate my transit usage each month and only buy monthly passes when it makes sense.

    David

    August 22, 2013 at 5:08 pm

  25. David

    Your comments are always welcome. One thing I liked about the Oyster card (London) was that they had a consumers’ charter that meant you would be charged the best rate for your travel. So even though I wasn’t staying long, I did not have to go through any hoops to work out how much I needed to put on the card. Since my last visit, they have actually added more travel options, so the classic “UndergrounD” map has become much more interesting with all kinds of former BR routes added.

    The issue with the Compass is that Translink has lost the confidence of the travelling public. They feel they are getting gouged – and the constant refrain “buy a Compass card” for all eventualities is sounding ever more hollow. Yes, I know its the fault of senior governments and lack of funding, and conservative theology that says users should always pay more (though only on new bridges for motorists). But the reality is that real incomes are static or declining. And while the rich pay less in income tax everyone has to pay more in fees and charges. And those hit the poorest, hardest.

    Stephen Rees

    August 22, 2013 at 5:31 pm

  26. Stephen: As much as I love your take on transit issues, I think this one is misguided. A month ago, you denounced the critics of the Translink Free Coffee initiative. You were making an educated opinion. Now, you have become one of Translink’s critics, and I need to remind you (as you did a month ago) that Translink’s decisions are based on simple finances.

    Lets look at why translink has decided to eliminate cash fare transfers:
    In just a few months after the implementation of Compass, the majority of the population will have a card. For example, try to find a person in Hong Kong without an octopus card. This isn’t the best comparison, but the point is that when you have a compass card, transfers will be very smooth. The number of people who purchase cash fares on buses AND transfer to skytrain will dwindle. Even tourists will learn to get the compass. It seriously isn’t worth the cost to spend millions to implement a seemless transition period where everybody is served. Transit agencies make mistakes, this isn’t one of them.

    For more perspective: http://mastersplanning.blogspot.ca/2013/08/translink-isnt-perfect.html

    PS: Please don’t mix up the compass card and the faregates. Even though everybody thinks that these two are synonymous, the fact is that Translink would have still gotten a smart card (like every other major city) without fare gates. So don’t blame translink for spending 171 million on faregates; it was not their decision.

    Please stop the translink bashing. We’ll never get a referendum passed if this continues.

    Kyle

    August 22, 2013 at 10:36 pm

  27. It is fortunate enough that the supporters of the Translink decision were not there at the time it has been decided to spend a bunch of money to make the life easier to the infirms…

    Hong Kong?
    Hong kong transit share: 80%

    And that is the main reason why everyone has an octopus card in Hon Kong,…and still their MTR accepts magnetic ticket…

    We are far, very far, from it…

    By the way to be able to get a compass ticket from a bus transfer, you just need to outfit 48 tvm, with a device very similar to that:

    http://www.officespecialties.com/magtek_21065140_usb_hid_magnetic_stripe_reader_93972_prd1.htm

    they can even get such device free by reclaiming the one of the retired TVMs.

    Even with labour, software integration, and maintenance, there is basically no rational way it can be as expensive as translink claims ($9M or $200,000 per TVM, that is much more than a brand new TVMs)…so the “lost of confidence” mentioned by Stephen is well taken.
    :
    Subsidiary question:
    Why we still see payphones ( and, why the payphone rate is regulated by the CRTC, and not up to the choice of the Telecom operating company), when people can buy a cell phone?

    Voony

    August 23, 2013 at 12:07 am

  28. I have not just become “one of Translink’s critics”. I have been one since even before its inception. If you mean by “critic” one who uses his critical faculties to examine its policies and practices. I am not now, nor have ever been, a cheerleader. In the days when people paid me to be a policy analyst, I gave them objective opinions, based on whatever information that was available tempered by experience, knowledge and training. The fact that they paid me quite a lot and did not follow my advice very closely was irrelevant. I was just doing my job. Now I do the same thing for free here.

    “I will not cease from mental fight” and will continue to voice opinions that are based on the desire to see a better transportation system and a better region than we have now. I do hold Kevin Falcon and Christy Clark to share much of the responsibility for what is going wrong with it. But Translink is not to he held above criticism just because it is no longer run by an elected body, nor because it has produced a very well thought out long range plan. Once again, the devil lies in the details: how the service is delivered does matter.

    This issue actually started with the bus operators – and their union. I was very careful NOT to make my initial blog post seem like an attack on the union – or the bus operators. But I think they were probably wrong in expecting a rise of assaults on bus operators due to the change in the value of a transfer issued by a bus farebox. It is my opinion that bus assaults are often the result of an operator attempting to enforce the fare system – something Translink policy and training expressly enjoins them NOT to do.

    I also think it very likely that there were people within the organization who could have predicted the reaction this decision – to double the fare of cash payers on buses transferring to SkyTrain – would cause. It is very unfortunate that this discussion has to take place now, and in public, as it was not handled well within the organization, in private, earlier.

    And I did not mix up Compass and faregates. Translink did that. And, it turns out, so do you. $171 million is the cost of fare gates and the necessary station alterations and the Compass Electronic Fare Collection system. And as I and others have pointed out, there are much cheaper ways of integrating magnetic stripe media into the gate opening mechanism than early replacement of every bus farebox. Translink’s PR people do the organisation a disservice when they overstate cost of the alternatives. Which is a shame as it is not as though Translink had a high level of credibility with the public before this started.

    Stephen Rees

    August 23, 2013 at 7:33 am

  29. “Transit agencies make mistakes, this isn’t one of them. ”

    I agree with Kyle.

    I still wait to see aabout final arrangements about the compass card, but translink can fight poverty better by maintaining its transit network and avoiding further service rationalization, not by spending $9 million or more to account for bus-to-skytrain cash fares.

    Riders on PWD and GIS will have their annual government pass moved to compass.

    ————-

    As for agencies that make mistakes, consider this for comaprison:

    “The cost of delivering the Presto smart card to Toronto area commuters has nearly tripled to $700 million, says the 2012 Annual Report of Ontario’s auditor general.

    The auditor said the card may be among the most expensive in the world — and isn’t delivering the breezy commute that was promised to Toronto region transit riders.
    …..
    The number of riders using Presto has also grown significantly since the audit period in March 2012, McCuaig said. The auditor’s report says only 6 per cent of regional transit users had signed onto Presto by then — 18 per cent of riders once GO was factored in. [mezz - that's 18% uptake over 2 years]”

    http://www.thestar.com/news/city_hall/2012/12/12/auditor_general_says_presto_smart_card_cost_has_ballooned_to_700_million.html

    mezzanine

    August 23, 2013 at 8:43 am

  30. @Mezz – No-one here is expecting Translink to fight poverty

    And the fact that another agency has made a bigger mess of its transfer to smart cards is no compliment to Translink’s handling of this issue

    Stephen Rees

    August 23, 2013 at 8:46 am

  31. IMO Translink (and transit in general) really is a great equalizer. People can expand job oppourtunitites and students can go to schools that suit them. Access to transit is a legitimate issue; you’ve hinted at that yourelf in one of your comments above. (” …And while the rich pay less in income tax everyone has to pay more in fees and charges. And those hit the poorest, hardest.”).

    And I can say that and also say that even for a person of modest means, a $6 deposit for a compass card (which can be access for paying for a transit fare IMO isn’t onerous.

    ———

    I posted the presto card news for perspective and iteration. How did Ontario budget a similar amount as TL did for their smartcard, and how did it creep up to $700 million? Who paid for that, metrolinx of the Province? How does that refect on our current situation with the Bus-to skytrain transfer issue and the choice TL made?

    mezzanine

    August 23, 2013 at 9:02 am


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