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EDITORIAL: Compass Card blunder will cost TransLink
With TransLink set to role out the new Compass Card fare system next year, comes word this week that after investing more than $170 million in new faregates, TransLink buses will no longer be getting the new fareboxes, in order to save $25 million.
The Compass Cards offer many benefits. Users can load money on their card and buy the equivalent of a monthly pass or get a similar discount to the FareSaver prepaid ticket booklets by buying ahead.
TransLink expects passengers will flock to adopt the reloadable Compass Card because of the convenience it will offer – ending the need to go to a store to buy a monthly pass – as well as other advantages like transfer of the balance if the card is lost or stolen.
However, those who opt to not buy one of the preloaded Compass Cards and instead choose to pay for their bus ride with mere cash will have to pay double should they want to transfer to a SkyTrain.
This is a policy that will unfairly target poorer riders, as well as the casual transit user. It certainly in no way encourages transit use, which should TransLink’s No. 1 priority.
TransLink estimates only about 6,000 riders will be affected by the decision to not upgrade the bus fareboxes, and the $25 million it would cost is not worth it.
However, given the cost of the Compass Card program to date and TransLink’s insistence at pushing forward with this ill-thought plan, it’s puzzling that they are suddenly concerned with how they spend taxpayer dollars.
TransLink estimates that fare evasion costs the local transit authority $7 million annually. If that’s the case, it will take TransLink close to 25 years just to break even on the Compass Card program, given the $170 million it has spent.
By that time, many of the faregates will obviously need to be repaired or replaced outright, so breaking even is unlikely.
TransLink has flushed $170 million down the toilet for this project. That’s a lot of money that could have better been spent adding buses and rolling stock, and improving service for transit users.
With gas prices at record highs thanks in part to TransLink’s gas tax, residents here in Delta are understandably frustrated with the transit authority.
Is it any wonder why so many Lower Mainland residents want to do away with TransLink?
-South Delta Leader