News Local

Overcharging fears delay Compass again

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

TransLink says it wants the speed of tapping on and off to get faster before it implements the new fare system. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

TransLink says it wants the speed of tapping on and off to get faster before it implements the new fare system. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

Fears of overcharging Compass users on buses in part because of a card-reader failure rate exceeding 8% have forced TransLink to delay the fare system once again.

According to the transit authority, unless the system is fixed it means eight out of every 100 people tapping off buses could potentially be charged the full three-zone fare — since the machine failed and didn’t register an “off” tap — instead of the number of zones they actually travelled.

TransLink chief operating officer Doug Kelsey said the bus readers have also been plagued with speed issues.

Each is supposed to register a tap in about a third of a second, but can currently only reach “anywhere from half a second up through multiple seconds.”

“It needs to improve,” he said. “(The contractors) have given those timelines to us for a September range ... by which time we’ll have word — if it’s sooner, it’ll be wonderful. We’re just estimating an October update next.”

He didn’t have details of exactly what’s wrong with the system, saying that’s the job of the contractor, Cubic Transportation Systems — which will not be paid any additional money for dealing with the delay.

“The $194-million budget is not changing,” Kelsey said.

In any case, this means West Coast Express users expecting to be the first ones to officially use Compass in zone-based travel will have to wait longer.

Kelsey said the intention is to roll out the system all at once for WCE users — so they can tap on and off all forms of transit — and TransLink will hold off until the bus system works properly.

“Fifty per cent of our customers alone, they get off West Coast Express and end up downtown,” he said.

“A lot take the buses, about 10% or so take SeaBus, a good portion take SkyTrain — so a one-mode customer has a very high chance of connecting onto the rest of the system, including buses.”

To date, 85,000 people — transit employees and those on the BC Bus Pass — are using Compass, but those are good system-wide and don’t operate on a fare-zone system.


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