TransLink riders will be able to tap debit cards on the Compass system

Nov 23 2021, 5:07 pm

Another form of alternative fare payment is being added to TransLink’s Compass system, providing passengers with added convenience and flexibility in accessing Metro Vancouver’s public transit system.

Interac Debit is being added as an option for contactless tap-to-pay on fare gates and card readers of the Compass system. This is being performed as a partnership with Interac Corporation and Cubic Transportation Systems, which is the designer and supplier of TransLink’s fare gates, card readers, and the overall Compass technological network.

“Partnering with TransLink to add Interac Debit contactless payments to Metro Vancouver’s transit fare reader system is the next big step to providing added convenience to all transit riders in the area,” said William Keliehor, Chief Commercial Officer of Interac, in a statement.

“By offering Interac Debit, a form of payment that millions of Canadians already use for day-to-day purchases, transit authorities like TransLink are giving riders a contactless digital payment option which can help with the responsible post-COVID-19 recovery of transit networks in cities across the country.”

The capability to tap with Interac Debit will begin by the end of 2022, making TransLink the first public transit authority in Canada to fully integrate debit contactless payments across a regional transit system.

In order to achieve this, over 5,000 card readers across the TransLink system will need to be upgraded by Cubic for contactless debit card compatibility.

This adds to existing alternative contactless payment options such as Visa, Mastercard, American Express, Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay Wallet. The growing number of alternative options beyond the Compass Card provide infrequent transit riders and tourists with a convenient and seamless way to pay, without having to obtain a Compass Card or use fare vending machines.

While these alternative payment forms provide convenience, they do not offer fare discounts that are offered through the stored value of Compass Card.

“Integrating Interac Debit contactless payments across our system in Metro Vancouver is another way we’re making it easier for customers to take transit,” said Kevin Quinn, CEO of TransLink.

“TransLink was the first transit agency in Canada to commercially launch [a] contactless credit card and mobile payments, and it’s important that we continue to be innovative to make transit an even more attractive transportation option.”

TransLink is also currently in the final stages of completing the replacement of the aging electronic fare box machines on buses with TAG mechanical fare box machines, which require bus drivers to dispense paper ripoff transfer tickets for passengers paying by cash. A decision was made by TransLink to not re-invest in a new model of electronic fare box, given the high installation and operating costs, and since the vast majority of passengers are now paying digitally through the Compass system.

As of August 2021, the transition from Cubic electronic fare box to the manual TAG fare box was completed on 1,180 out of 1,500 conventional buses, with a target to meet full completion by the end of 2021. TransLink previously replaced all of the fare boxes on community shuttle buses with the manual model.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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