Vancouver Bus Riders Rejoice: All Fares to be Just $2.75

Photo credit: ArielKettle | Wikipedia

Photo credit: ArielKettle | Wikipedia

Vancouver bus riders are about to get a little break, courtesy of some newfangled technology that just never worked right.

Starting on Oct. 5, all TransLink bus riders will be charged a single rate of $2.75, regardless of how far they travel. Currently, that’s the rate for single-zone riders, while passengers who cross zones have to pony up $4 or $5.50 for two- or three-zone fares.

The rate change corresponds to the official roll-out of the Compass Card payment system to all transit users this October. Under the new system, passengers use a card to “tap in” and “tap out” of buses, SkyTrains and SeaBuses. The cards are loaded with value in advance and the appropriate fare is deducted automatically.  

Photo sourced from translink.ca

Photo sourced from translink.ca

At least that’s how it’s supposed to work. Over the past several years, TransLink has spent $194 million in an attempt to get the system operational. Much of that effort has focused on figuring out a Compass Card system for buses. Extended field tests showed major problems with bus riders tapping out.

In some cases, card readers would delay several seconds before acknowledging a “tap out” – a serious issues on crowded buses where dozens of people are trying to get off at once. This was compounded by an overall 8- to 10-percent error rate on the readers. Meanwhile, savvy bus riders quickly figured out that they could “tap out” while still on the bus – avoiding multi-zone fares, according to an article in the Vancouver Sun.

As a result of all these problems, TransLink has decided to scrap the multi-zone bus fare system altogether. Come October, riders can use Compass Cards on buses, but they will only be required to “tap in” and will only pay for one zone no matter how far they go. This price break also applies to HandyDart buses. Multi-zone fares will remain in effect, however, on the SkyTrain and SeaBus. Additionally, the amount of time to transfer remains 90 minutes.

1297733789550_ORIGINALTransLink is expected to roll out Compass vending machines at SkyTrain stations and SeaBus terminals beginning this month. At first only single-use tickets will be dispensed from the machines (which kind of seems to defeat the purpose of a rechargeable card). By late October, however, the machines are expected to be carrying actual Compass Cards. By November, Compass cards will also be available in retail stores.

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5 Responses to Vancouver Bus Riders Rejoice: All Fares to be Just $2.75

  1. Ric Caley

    How does it work if you are changing buses? Do you have to tap in a second time and pay a second fee when changing buses from one zone to another…???Are you then charged twice for what was a single trip destination??

  2. It sounds like if you change buses and have crossed into a different zone you may have to pay again. This article has some information: http://bc.ctvnews.ca/translink-moving-to-single-zone-fare-system-for-all-buses-1.2505285

    • Ric

      That’s not what they were speaking about in the media – they said ALL BUSS RIDES regardless of length are at $2.75
      and how does that corellate to crossing multiple zones, if you have to change busses to cross those zones…
      Are there going to be transfers given, like now?

      • D

        If it’s like other systems in the world, one tap of the card will let you travel across the system for 90 minutes. You won’t be charged twice. If you transfer to Skytrain and cross a zone, you would then be charged extra when you tap out.

  3. S. Rose

    If the only context you had was the media release from Translink, you’d come away with the conclusion that things were all puppy dogs and rainbows. But the harsh reality is that this project, by over-reaching, has cost the taxpayers several hundred million. I’m no public relations expert, but wouldn’t a message that either acknowledged the failures or at least avoided cheery phrases such as “building on our success” and “our strategy is working” leave any reader of average alertness with a more positive picture of the organization? We aren’t stupid, and we deserve some demonstration of respect.

    Having said that, this seems like the right move at the right time given the proven reality that tapping out can’t be made to work acceptably well.