TransLink introducing tap-and-go credit card payments across public transit

Mar 10 2018, 2:18 am

There will soon be more than one card option that passengers can use to tap on TransLink’s Compass fare gates and fare readers.

Beginning this spring, the public transit authority will be enabling credit card and smartphone payment on the Compass system.

This is intended as an additional option to the Compass Card, and provides tourists and infrequent transit users who do not have a Compass Card with great ease and flexibility with using public transit, as they can now simply tap and ride.

It means passengers can tap their contactless Visa or Mastercard credit card or smartphone mobile wallet on the fare gate and fare readers. And it could entice those who still rely on cash payment instead of the Compass Card towards this new form of cashless payment, which will reduce lineups at buses and ticket machines.

Visa Mastercard

Visa and Mastercard will be the only credit cards accepted on the Compass Card fare gates and fare readers starting spring 2018. (Shutterstock)

“Improving the customer experience is one of our top priorities and Tap to Pay is going to make taking transit even easier,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond.

“Giving people more payment options will greatly increase convenience, especially for people who aren’t regular riders. We plan to launch Tap to Pay this spring to ensure we provide this new convenience in time for tourism season.”

But before the launch of the new payment options, TransLink wants passengers to stop engaging in one potentially problematic habit: tapping an entire wallet or smartphone case containing multiple credit cards onto the fare gates and fare readers.

The public transit authority wants to avoid a “card clash” issue when the new payment options go live.

TransLink is rolling out a new education campaign today to inform passengers they should tap the card they want to be charged.

An exact launch date for the new payment options will be released soon.

Will some passengers still need to use the Compass Card?

In short, the answer is ‘Yes’.

Compass Cards will still be required for passengers who have a day or monthly pass.

Credit card payment options and mobile wallet are only for single trips, and like the existing cash payment fare structure these new methods will not provide the discount offered when using stored value from a Compass Card.

For instance, a one-zone fare on Compass Card stored value is $2.20 while cash payment is $2.85.

And not all passengers have access to a credit card; many transit users are children and teenagers, and the legal age to get a credit card in BC is 19.

There could be even more payment options in the future, as TransLink previously stated it was looking into making a Compass smartphone app that would allow passengers to track their usage and pay through their Compass account with their smartphone.

Additionally, the public transit authority is currently in the process of finalizing a new distance-travelled fare payment structure, which will replace the existing three-zone structure. A selected option will be announced sometime this year.

Over one million Compass Cards are in active use on the transit system. As of the latest available data from 2016, 94% of journeys on the system are made with a Compass Card or ticket.

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