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FareSavers to last through spring-summer 2014

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

Vancouver School Board chairwoman Patti Bacchus fears there won't be another option to help kids without a ride home when FareSavers — which the district hands out to some students — are eliminated next year. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

Vancouver School Board chairwoman Patti Bacchus fears there won't be another option to help kids without a ride home when FareSavers — which the district hands out to some students — are eliminated next year. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

TransLink will continue selling its FareSaver discount passes through spring-summer 2014 after previously announcing the program would end in January.

The transit authority revealed its decision Thursday as part of an announcement saying that 80,000 customers would be using the new Compass Card by the end of January.

An earlier announcement to kill the FareSaver passes was criticized by some after it was realized the Compass Card’s discounts would not offer prices as low as the FareSaver booklets.

As an example, a “stored value” of up to 14% discount on Compass costs $2.35 for the equivalent of a single-zone ticket. The same pass under FareSaver costs $2.10.

Simon Fraser University marketing professor Lindsey Meredith warned reversing the decision could create a bigger headache.

“If there is a perception that they’re not sure where they’re going, does that affect sales? Sure. People are trying to figure out what a company stands for,” she said.

He said typically there are two ways to kill off a product — cold turkey or in a phased-process — and it appears TransLink had initially decided to eliminate the FareSaver before Compass was commercially available, but later decided on a phased approach.

“In the end (with a phased approach), you wind up with two programs running at once and you get conflicting issues … that’s the down side,” Meredith said.

TransLink vice-president Mike Madill said the FareSavers discounts had been artificially high due to the TransLink commissioner’s office rejecting raising the price of the passes with other fare increases last year.

No exact date has been determined for FareSavers elimination. Madill said they would be available until all customers can access Compass.

Madill said the electronic cards would first be distributed to those with BC Bus Pass —subsidized low-income passes for $45 per year — and Canadian National Institute for the Blind pass users, who ride free but will still receive a Compass Card.

TransLink employees are also included in the first run.

West Coast Express commuters, which had originally been slated as the first to receive the Compass Card, would have to wait until late spring. Madill said that’s because an online customer service support that most Compass users would eventually use is not ready for launch.

 

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