Paper transfer tickets returning to some TransLink buses permanently

Mar 27 2019, 12:11 am

It has been nearly a generation since Metro Vancouver’s public transit system used paper transfer tickets, but they will be making a permanent return on community shuttle buses starting next month.

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Passengers with single-trip cash fares paid on TransLink’s mini-bus community shuttle routes will be manually provided with paper transfer tickets instead of the usual method of magnetic stripe tickets automatically dispensed from an electronic fare box.

Mechanical fare boxes that issue paper transfers are being purchased for community shuttles, and these new fare boxes will be introduced gradually this spring. Drivers will use a special cutter to tear the paper at a spot on the ticket where the time the transfer window ends is printed.

TransLink community shuttle paper transfer ticket

Example of TransLink’s new paper transfer tickets for community shuttles. (TransLink)

“We are going back to a paper ripoff ticket. They will function exactly the same, they are proof of purchase,” said Michael McDaniel, president and general manager of TransLink’s Coast Mountain Bus Company, during last week’s open board meeting.

This does not affect those who use a Compass Card, as nothing has changed with the Compass Card readers on the community shuttles.

Manufacturer no longer makes electronic fare box model

The public transit authority says the change is necessary as the manufacturer of the electronic magnetic stripe ticket fare boxes has discontinued the model. As these electronic fare boxes see little use on the community shuttles, they are being reinstalled into the new conventional bus fleet of 40-ft buses and 60-ft articulated buses as a cost-saving measure.

“Since community shuttles do not issue a lot of mag-stripe tickets or take in a lot of cash during normal daily operation, it was deemed practical  to swap out the electronic fare boxes with simpler mechanical ones to repurpose the freed up electronic fare boxes into larger, conventional buses that have higher daily cash deposits and mag-stripe ticket demands,” TransLink spokesperson Lida Paslar told Daily Hive.

If TransLink did not pursue this strategy, the only other option would be to replace the fare boxes on all 1,400+ buses at a significant cost to ensure systemwide magnetic stripe ticket compatibility.


TransLink’s new low-floor community shuttle. (TransLink)

The paper transfers will work the same as the magnetic stripe tickets, with transfers to another community shuttle or a conventional bus allowed within the 90-minute transfer window only. Transfers are not permitted to SkyTrain, as only a separate Compass ticket or Compass Card provides access to the trains.

According to McDaniel, only about 700 passengers per day — those who still use cash to get around on a community shuttle — are affected by the change.

TransLink initially discontinued paper transfer tickets in 2001 when it began using the electronic fare boxes that dispense magnetic stripe tickets.

TransLink paper transfer ticket

Example of a pre-2001 paper transfer ticket. (TransLink)

TransLink paper transfer ticket

Example of a 1990s paper transfer ticket. (TransLink)

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