New transit passes usher speedy trips 0
Counting exact change or jamming a crumpled bus ticket into a card reader - banes of the busy bus passenger's life - are set to become faded memories this spring when the new electronic fare card system launches.
Instead, it will take less than a second for riders to validate Compass cards after tapping them against card readers set to roll out the same time as SkyTrain fare gates, according to the project's implementation manager Norm Fraser.
But the purportedly swift-acting Compass card system has at least one sluggish drawback - passengers must also swipe the card to get off the bus.
"Initially, there will be growing pains," Fraser admitted while previewing the new technology for 24 hours.
Mobile validator devices will automatically deduct a three-zone fare from the stored-value cards when passengers get on the bus. Riders must then line up behind other departing passengers to swipe when exiting to receive money back if they travel fewer than three zones.
This means validators subtract $5 from the cards when single-zone riders get on the bus, but will reimburse them $2.50 when they get off. If someone exits without swiping, they pay the full three-zone fare.
But Fraser said validators can handle 30 to 35 swipes a minute, which should keep congestion to a minimum as people leave.
Despite the cards' Big Brother undertone - they come complete with microchips and antennae so they can be reloaded with money and track passengers' movements through the system - Fraser said passengers and taxpayers will benefit greatly.
TransLink will be able to determine when and where people are getting on and off buses as they swipe, allowing the transit authority to adjust services.
Fraser, a former bus driver himself, said drivers still have the final say about who gets on the bus.
"Nothing from this project takes discretion away from our drivers. They're still the captains of their ship."