TransLink announces that one zone fare will apply for bus passengers
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
After years of delays and problems, TransLink has come up with a potential solution that may aid in rolling out the Compass Card to transit users—removing the requirement of multiple-zone fares across bus networks.
TransLink made the announcement on August 7 that, starting on October 5, passengers will only need to pay a one-zone fare while travelling by bus, even if they cross zone boundaries. Multiple zone fares will remain in effect for those travelling by SkyTrain or by SeaBus.
The decision comes after a long deliberation about how to assess the problems that came with the Compass Card’s ability to tap out. This process has been problematic, as there are often delays and miscalculations when a passenger taps out while exiting a bus.
Another issue with the tap-out process is the automatic reservation of a three-zone fare upon tapping into the system. Should a passenger forget to tap out their card, they would be forced to pay a three-zone fare, even if they only traveled one zone. Even those who remember to tap out would currently be at risk of unnecessarily paying multiple-zone fares, due to an eight to 10 per cent margin of error when calculating travelled distance.
As well, a loophole in tapping out the cards and calculating multiple zones allows a passenger to tap out prematurely, and thus not have to pay for multiple zones of travel.
These errors have not been problematic when traveling via SkyTrain.
TransLink hopes that, with the new change in the bus fare system, they will be able to make further progress in introducing Compass Cards to the general public. As of now, the only people who are using the Compass Card are post-secondary students, TransLink employees, West Coast Express customers, and people with a disability.
The change is expected to be a temporary one that will allow more people to access the Compass system while TransLink figures out another solution to tapping out. It is also a change that many passengers are happy to see. According to an online poll conducted by CBC in May, 58 per cent of passengers agree that one-zone bus fares are a good incentive to join the Compass network.
While TransLink will face a loss of revenue with the change to one-zone bus fares, officials hope to slow down the losses by keeping multiple-zone fares in effect over other TransLink networks, like the SkyTrain.
“If you want to get there quickly, you’ll take the train. Some will switch if they’ve got the time, but it remains to be seen how many will do that,” TransLink spokesperson Anne Drennan explained to the Vancouver Sun.