Hundreds of Metro Vancouverites lined up early Friday morning to get their hands on TransLink’s latest fare product: Compass Mini.
The Minis are a keychain version of TransLink’s existing Compass cards, which allow users to pay their fare by tapping onto bus, SeaBus, Skytrain or West Coast Express.
The transportation agency released a limited 5,000 of the adult version and 2,500 of the concession version of the Minis on Friday at two downtown locations.
Just like when TransLink released Compass wristbands last December and February, demand was hot.
“I heard the bracelets went in an hour, and I didn’t want to miss out on that,” said transit user Tracy.
“You never lose your house keys — well, you hope not to — it’s more compact and connected to something you shouldn’t lose.”
People began lining up as early as 6 a.m., to get their hands on the product, with sales beginning at 7:30 a.m.
By 10:30 a.m., there were already multiple people selling the new fare cards on Craigslist for between $40 and $50. TransLink was selling the Minis for a refundable deposit of $6.
“Please, no hate, I stood in line for hours at 6 a.m. to get this, you didn’t, if you’re mad about it, it’s not my problem,” wrote one Craigslist seller.
Despite high demand for alternative ways to pay fares, TransLink says commuters won’t be able to tap in and out of the system using an app on their phone any time in the near future.
Spokesperson Jill Drews said that’s because the Compass system relies on physical chips inside the cards, Minis and wristbands — not cloud-based accounts associated with each passenger.
“We have done some studies in the transit fare review of what it would take to move to an account based system, but it’s kind of a long-term idea because it’s going to cost a fair amount of money to do,” she said.
“Right now the priority is expansion.”