Lower Mainland bus drivers are “shaking their heads” at why TransLink decided bus transfer tickets for cash fares would no longer be accepted for other transit services when the Compass Card rolls out this fall.
TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said that at $25 million, it was too expensive to upgrade all bus fare boxes so they would dish out Compass-compatible tickets.
If a passenger carries a bus-transfer pass to the SkyTrain, they will be told to get a Compass single-trip pass from a machine. There will be no trade-ins, nor will there be a discount for cash-only bus fares, Zabel said.
“If the customer comes on the bus with cash, and they get that ticket, that would no longer work on the rail side,” Zabel said Tuesday, adding bus tickets in the new system will only be viable for bus-to-bus transfers.
He said there will be a transitional period in which both options will be accepted while TransLink teaches the public about its new system. During this time, retailers such as 7-11 will carry all available types of fare, including monthly and pre-loadable Compass Cards.
“It’s estimated only 6,000 customers (pay cash and transfer) a day, which represents a small percentage of our daily rides,” Zabel said.
But Gavin Davies, vice-president of the union representing TransLink bus drivers, is worried his members will take the brunt of customer complaints when frustrated passengers find out they’d need to pay twice if they wish to use bus with cash then transfer to SkyTrain.
“They’re going to take their frustration out on the (bus) operator,” Davies said.
“You either go all the way or no way, they’re not two separate things. We have one system in place and it should be compatible.”
Zabel said TransLink expects most customers to use the Compass Card instead, as monthly and pre-loadable options offer a discount of up to 14% as a further incentive to buy. He said the transport authority would make sure its staff fully understand the system and can answer any questions.
“I don’t know if we’ve figured out a date when we’ll stop selling regular fare media we currently have,” Zabel said.
“We’re not going to close the date until we’re confident people understand how to use the system.”