TransLink will close more faregates on SkyTrain starting this weekend to spur Compass card-carrying passengers to remember to tap off.
And it says December will be the last month when transit users can buy an old-style paper monthly pass – all users of those passes will have to switch to Compass cards for January and load the pass onto their account.
That’s expected to push still more riders onto Compass as the payment card’s phased rollout continues.
Spokesperson Jennifer Morland said TransLink expects about 100,000 Compass users to ultimately load monthly passes, down from around 130,000 in the past with paper passes. The decrease is because some are expected to decide the “stored value” option on Compass is a better option for them.
In November, 29,000 monthly passes were loaded on Compass, so the bulk of the expected monthly pass conversions is still to come.
A continuing challenge during the transition is that Compass users who forget to tap off get charged the maximum three-zone fare even if they travelled only one or two zones.
That resulted in a blizzard of complaint calls in the first week of November, forcing TransLink to reimburse several thousand affected passengers.
The numbers have subsided but Morland said about 30 per cent of passengers are still forgetting to tap out.
“We know this is a big change for our customers and it is going to take some getting used to,” Morland said.
Asked if there’s potential for false requests for refunds, Morland admitted TransLink has no way to tell for certain that an overcharge complainant really exited after one zone and didn’t ride further.
“Without them tapping out it isn’t possible for us to see exactly where they’ve crossed,” she said, but added TransLink’s focus is on education and “making it right.”
Most passengers who request fare adjustments for a forgotten tap out only call once, she said.
“Once they make that initial call and have that adjustment they’ve learnt what they need to do to pay the correct fare and we’re not seeing repeat calls.”
If passengers appeared to be repeatedly seeking adjustments to scam the system, Morland said, “that’s something we’d monitor and and look at on a case-by-case basis.”
As of Nov. 21, two faregates will be closed instead of just one at most stations on the Millennium and Expo Lines. It’s hoped that will provide an extra visual cue to tap out.
More gates may close and TransLink intends to eventually close all gates, although it has no timetable for doing so.
TransLink has not yet said when it will stop selling prepaid FareSaver tickets – which would no longer work once the final gates close and would have to be converted to credit on Compass.
“Stored value is really the new FareSaver,” Morland said. “We are encouraging our customers to make that change now.”
More than 300,000 Compass cards have been activated and TransLink expects that number to climb to about 500,000.
Tap-outs are not required on buses, where riders now pay only one zone fare regardless of how far they travel.