Compass card glitches lead to bargain fares for multi-zone bus riders

The fare deal may also be a smart public relations move following the failure of the recent transit referendum that was marked by anti-TransLink public sentiment.

Compass card reader. Translink photo
Compass card reader: works when you tap in but not so much when you tap out. Translink photo

Riders who normally fork over fares for two or three zones on their bus commute have something to smile about; the glitchy Compass card system has resulted in a one-zone-fare-for-all deal starting Oct. 5.

Until further notice, bus and HandyDart users who travel across zones will pay the single-zone fare whether or not it's a peak-fare period, as part of TransLink's hastily named Bus Anywhere with a One-Zone Fare deal.

For a daily weekday bus commuter from Burnaby, the North Shore or Richmond, that's as much as a $50 savings per month.

News of the rider deal is part of TransLink's plan to get the Compass card system up and running this fall. The one-zone bus fare decision will allow the roll-out while bypassing the ongoing problem of the Compass reader's faulty scanning function that led to inaccuracies and disembarking backlogs in the past.

But the fare deal may also be a smart public relations move following the failure of the recent transit referendum that was marked by anti-TransLink public sentiment.

For all other modes (e.g. West Coast Express, SeaBus, SkyTrain), the existing fare-zone rates will remain in effect, and tapping out will still be required to ensure the correct fare is charged.

Starting this month, and over the next several weeks, active Compass vending machines will be phased in at SkyTrain stations and SeaBus terminals.

Single-use Compass tickets will be available from the machines to start, and by late October the machines will be stocked with Compass Cards.

By November, Compass Cards will also be available at retail outlets, customer service walk-in centres, and ordered online or by phone and delivered by mail.

About 130,000 riders have already switched to Compass, according to TransLink, adding that the Compass website hit $1million in financial transactions last week.

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