After announcing earlier this year that its Compass system would soon be compatible with credit cards and smartphone payment, TransLink has now set a date for just when that service will be available.
Starting May 22, passengers can tap their contactless Visa or Mastercard credit card or smartphone mobile wallet on the fare gate and fare readers.
The technology will mean no more ticket line-ups, digging for exact change or worrying about pre-calculating zones. It’s also meant to be an added convenience for customers who don’t have a Compass Card, such as tourists, or infrequent users of transit.
“Tap to Pay is all about customer convenience,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “Compass is great for regular riders and this initiative leverages its greater potential by adding more convenient payment options for infrequent users and travellers.”
In addition, TransLink’s card-cash marketing campaign continues to remind customers to tap only the card they wish to be charged, not a wallet or phone case with multiple cards inside. This is meant to ensure the correct card is charged once the technology goes live.
If a customer presents more than one card to a card reader, the system will charge the first card it detects, which may not be the one the customer intended for payment.
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 a 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 system. 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.
Signs throughout the system now include information about how Tap to Pay will work, so customers can prepare for the new feature. The new ads also encourage customers to keep using a Compass Card in order to take advantage of discounted rates.
– With files from Kenneth Chan