Bus tap out could still be imposed: TransLink

One-zone buses defended for Compass launch, but CEO says policy change still possible as system improves

TransLink might yet require bus passengers to tap out with their Compass cards, according to acting CEO Cathy McLay.

TransLink abandoned the bus tap out requirement last fall and switched all bus fares to one zone – giving an instant break to passengers who used to pay more on bus routes that cross two or three zones.

Slow performance of the Compass readers on buses was the reason – TransLink feared major bus service slowdowns would result if all riders had to tap out, and that too many passengers would forget, be overcharged the maximum three-zone fare and be furious.

“We’ve not closed any doors,” McLay told the Mayors’ Council on Regional Transportation at a meeting Wednesday.

She said the error rate at Compass readers on buses is down considerably to less than two per cent and TransLink might reconsider a bus tap out policy if it improves further to about one per cent.

Many of the errors are believed to be human not mechanical because of riders not tapping correctly, she said.

McLay was responding to queries from Metro Vancouver mayors concerned that TransLink won’t get accurate enough data on rider movements – promised under Compass – if bus passengers don’t tap out at the end of their trip.

That data is supposed to help inform a two-year fare policy review TransLink is about to launch that could change how passengers are charged.

TransLink is using other analytic methods to estimate passenger movements. For example, if someone taps on to a bus and then later taps on at a SkyTrain station, the system infers that they rode to the end of the line and transferred even though there’s no bus tap out data to prove that.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan also demanded to know how much revenue TransLink has lost by going to just one zone and forgoing two and three zone fares on buses.

“It’s probably net zero,” McLay said, but was unable to give an accurate number.

She noted 85 per cent of bus routes are only one zone anyway.

McLay defended the decision to move to one zone only fares and abandon the bus exit tap out – at least to enable the launch of Compass.

“If we required bus passengers to tap off the error rate would have been so high during that learning curve our ridership would have permanently declined and we didn’t want to risk that.”

As for the fare policy review, McLay said one potential change under consideration is a loyalty program – regular monthly pass buyers might get their 12th month of the year at a discount.

TransLink says 137,000 former monthly pass holders have now converted from paper passes to Compass card monthly passes.

The next change is that TransLink is halting distribution of FareSavers – pre-paid booklets of discount tickets. They’ll no longer be delivered to dealers come February, but some may still be available for some weeks and passengers can use them until all gates are finally closed. Unused FareSavers can be converted to Compass card stored value.

Fare dealers are now selling pre-loaded Compass cards that are ready to use immediately without any set up or need to load cash on them.

McLay also outlined some of the major challenges facing TransLink this year – trying to secure federal funding that could put transit expansion plans back in high gear, the rehabilitation of the Pattullo Bridge, and integration of the Evergreen Line with the rest of SkyTrain.

She called the Pattullo work set to begin this spring a “balancing act” because TransLink needs to keep motorists safe but doesn’t want to over-invest in a bridge that is slated to be rebuilt soon.

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Peace Arch Hospital Foundation executive director Stephanie Beck speaks at a 2017 groundbreaking ceremony. In March 2020, she announced the Rapid Response Grant Program, aimed at providing financial assistance during the pandemic. (File photo)
Peace Arch Hospital Foundation launches youth program

Youth in Action designed for students who want to make an impact in their community

The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on April 13, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Surrey RCMP asking for dash-cam video of ‘suspicious incident’

Incident involves a newer model Toyota Rav 4 SUV

Surrey RCMP are investigating a “serious” collision near Cloverdale Saturday evening. (Curtis Kreklau photo)
Surrey RCMP investigating ‘serious’ collision in Cloverdale

Witness says vehicle collided with utility pole at approximately 9:30 p.m.

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of March 7

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

The James C Richardson Pipe Band marches in a Remembrance Day parade on Nov. 11, 2019 in Chilliwack. Wednesday, March 10 is International Bagpipe Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of March 7 to 13

International Bagpipe Day, Wash Your Nose Day and Kidney Day are all coming up this week

The Kimber family of Boston Bar lost their home in a fire. Blaine Kimber’s daughter created a fundraiser to help rebuild the home with the goal of $100,000. (Screenshot/GoFundMe)
Fundraiser created for Boston Bar family that lost everything in weekend fire

Witnesses say the Kimber family escaped the fire without injury, but their home is a total loss

(The Canadian Press)
‘Worse than Sept. 11, SARS and financial crisis combined’: Tourism industry in crisis

Travel services saw the biggest drop in active businesses with 31 per cent fewer firms operating

Pictures and notes in from friends and classmates make up a memorial in support and memory of Aubrey Berry, 4, and her sister Chloe, 6, during a vigil held at Willows Beach in Oak Bay, B.C., on December 30, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Mother of slain daughters supports recent changes to Canada’s Divorce Act

Sarah Cotton-Elliott said she believed her children took a back seat to arranging equal parenting

Victoria man Brett Andersen is asking for people’s help to secure him one of eight free tickets to the moon. (Screenshot/@brettandersen Instagram)
Victoria man wants your help securing a free ticket to the moon

Japanese billionaire offering eight people a trip to the moon

The Conservation Officers Service is warning aquarium users after invasive and potentially destructive mussels were found in moss balls from a pet store. (BC Conservation Officers Service/Facebook)
Aquarium users in B.C. warned after invasive mussels found at pet store

Conservation officers were told the mussels were found in a moss ball from a Terrace pet store.

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

The family of injured Willoughby resident Ronald Gerald Jesso is hoping someone saw something that will help solve the mystery of how he came to be so badly hurt on the morning of Feb. 22. Jesso is still in hospital. (Jesso family/Special to Langley Advance Times)
An appeal to help solve the mystery of an injured Langley man

Family of Ronald Gerald Jesso asks witnesses to come forward

Most Read