Translink Introduces the Compass Card

Hooray! Vancouver is getting its very own re-loadable electronic pass for public transit! No longer do I need to scramble around in my change jar, fighting through all the pennies to find something that doesn’t require me walking out with fistfuls of coins, just to catch the bus.

Last October, Translink put out the call for Vancouverites to name this new card, and the finalists were Starfish, Tpass and Compass. As you can probably already guess, Compass came out on top.

The size of a credit card, the Compass Card will work like other pre-paid cards that many of us already use to buy coffee and the like. You simply load your card with money for a “pay as you go” option or with a fare product like a monthly pass. Translink will also be installing gates at Skytrain stations which will allow users to pass through only after their Compass Card has been tapped on the fare readers.

Although the Compass Card won’t be rolling out until 2013, having used the Oyster Card in London, UK and the Go Card in Brisbane, Australia for several years, I’m already looking forward to the ease of public transit in Vancouver with the introduction of the Compass. No more fistfuls of change for me!

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15 Responses to Translink Introduces the Compass Card

  1. Taigi

    Now the only question I have is:
    What is the pricing structure going to be with the new system once its implemented.
    Don’t get me wrong I’m all for this new system. Japan has had a similar system for years. I’m just waiting for the complaints to start once the fees are announced.

  2. james

    2013? I’d be happy to complain about that. Why so long?

  3. Kristen

    Yes, 2013 seems as though it’s off in the very distant, future… but I’m assuming these systems take a lot of time and energy to put together and a lot of testing to get it right. I’d love it to be earlier too!

    No word on price structure as yet….

  4. Andrew

    I also think 2013 is a long time. Maybe they can get it to public trials by summer 2012.

    • Nick


      Translink answr about 2013 is that it’s costing lots of money to put evrything in place at the same time so they will begin to manufacture all the system but thre is so many other on going project (elevator access for instance) that needs to be finished first than 2013 is the closest they got to !

  5. Tim

    Well, all I can say is FINALLY. After came by from Tokyo, Japan and Taipei, Taiwan; I realized our transit system is so old and backward. Did you know their transit trains contain more than 12 cars while ours only have 4?

    With this new system, Translink will definitely see a rise in profit revenue (Taipei and Tokyo transit makes close to million each day if not more). No more abstract nonsence 3 zone 90 minutes ride. I guarantee that after a year or 2 after the system is implemented, Translink would look at their revenue chart and said “why didn’t we do this 10 years ago?” With more profits, Translink could finally build more stations, hopefully from UBC to Maple Ridge and North Van to Langley.

    Another thing is this way is more environmentally clean. Not only we save more trees by get rid of the paper tickets, but reduce the amount of litter I see everyday inside trains and on platforms. I see people are so lazy that everyday, they got off or on, they just toss their ticket on the floor, even when a trash can is right in front of them. It really disappoint me that Vancouverites are trashing up this beautiful place.

    • Meg

      Tokyo has four times as many people in it than the GVRD does, in an area roughly the same size. Of course their trains have more cars. Did you ever use a train in Tokyo during rush hour? Four times as many people, three times as many cars… Tokyo’s trains during rush hour are worse than the #10 bus at its worst. ( ) As for profits, again, density is a huge factor. It is cheaper to have one 12-car train than two 6-car trains on different tracks. Taipei’s population is about the same as the GVRD”s, but in an area one tenth the size.

      If you want to compare Vancouver’s transit system to others, the only fair way is to look at transit systems in places with a similar density. I haven’t looked that deeply into it, but my guess is that our transit system is pretty good for how spread out Vancouverites are.

    • ron

      “Did you know their transit trains contain more than 12 cars while ours only have 4?”

      Do you know that their population is 100 times bigger than here?

      Pffftt. Too many Asia-lovers on these Vancouver pages (probaby reflecting our immigrant mix). These people spend 100 percent of their time moaning about how superior East Asia is.

      While living here and soaking our Medicare, of course!

  6. Steph

    2013? I’ve been waiting for this to be set up for years. Hong Kong has had the “Octopus” card for more than 10 years, and Vancouver is only coming up with this and implementing it in 2 years?! I can’t even count the number of times I’ve paid too much for the bus, or couldn’t get on the bus, because I didn’t have the exact amount enough change.

    • ron

      Hey Steph, instead of waiting here foru our Compass, you coulda just moved back to Hong Kong decades ago and enjoyed eating their Octopus.

      Oh, that’s right, sorry I forgot…. you wanted to be here and take Canadian citizenship in case the Communist takeover didn’t quite work out your way….

      Sorry about that. Please carry on with the whining.

  7. Tom

    They mentioned nothing about being able to use it on bus so is it just for the skytrains only? Cuz if that’s the case we will still need to buy tickets for buses and that pretty much defeat the purpose right?

    • A

      It will be for bus, train, and seabus. Look for sensors to be installed over the next 6 months city and system wide.

  8. Louella Vincentr

    I have just heard about this card and that concerns me.
    What kind of private information does this card provider collect? How will that information be used?
    I also now understand that riders will have to pay twice if they don’t purchase this card. Cash paying poor riders who need to use conventiinal buses and skytrain to get around will pay 1x for the bus and then again when they board the skytrain??
    Seems unfair to me as one of the working poor.

    Baffled in Surrey

  9. lena

    The monthly bus pass can carry 2 adult passengers on the skytrain on Sundays. So will we still have that when the gates start working near the end of 2013? The gates close after each person passes, so I’m guessing the “2 adult passengers on Sunday” ain’t gonna work anymore. Lame.

  10. Kelly Davies

    I’m a single mother and I get bus passes for my daughter and myself. I understand that you are taking away the bus passes for this compass pass. I don’t like this as I have to load 2 cards now. I don’t want to pay double if I take the bus or Canada line.. I just want get my bus passes back. When I go to different zones I do pay the extra fares. If I get the compass card I’m hoping I will not have to pay double if I take the bus and Canada line in zone 1. I hope the cards will not run out before the months up… I can’t afford to pay double if I transit if I take both. But if I go to a different zones Then I will pay the extra zones… I’m not happy about this. I want the bus passes back if I have to pay Double by taking the bus there and back from work…. It not good and I’m not happy if I have double as I always pay for transit… Please e-mail back as I’m not happy. If I can load the card as my bus pass and it will not run out until the month is up…. Thanks Kelly