The beta testing for the new Compass Card kicked off this morning.
Translink’s re-loadable electronic fare card will replace all current passes and tickets and is supposed to launch some time next year.
Sixty-two-year-old Jon Moore of Richmond applied and was chosen to be one of approximately 10,000 volunteers testing the new card.
He says he was surprised to find out he still has to pay a regular fare in addition to tapping his test Compass Card every time he gets on and off the system.
But Translink spokesperson Jiana Ling says the application clearly states all volunteers are still responsible for paying their fare. Ling says giving out free rides for beta testers was never on the table for Translink.
“We have always been saying even when you actually sign up to be a beta tester, it says at the bottom in your application — this is only for testing purposes, you will need to pay regular fees. Transit police can check you and if you don’t have a valid fare on you, then you could potentially get a ticket as well.,” says Ling. “We have said that in all of our communications — through the application, through the package that they get, and we sent out an email on Friday as well reminding testers that they still need to hold a valid proof of payment when on the system with a Compass Card.”
Translink’s website also mentions the policy, saying — “Beta Testers must still purchase fare media: Because a Compass Beta Tester card can only be used for testing purposes, Compass Beta Testers will still be required to carry valid fare media at all times.”
Moore says had he realized earlier he would still have to pay the full price of his ride, he would not have signed up in first place.
“You gotta stop twice now. I use Fare Savers, so I gotta validate that, and then when I get to the gate, I gotta swipe at the gate, and at the other end when you get off, you gotta swipe again…I thought because I am retired, I will jump in and give these guys some help testing this system out. I’ve got lots of time, so I thought it would be perfect for them. And then, when I read the final instructions, that is when I saw you still have to pay regular testing.”
He says he was sent a one-zone test Compass Card, pre-loaded with $100, with his welcome package.
Ling says the credit is just part of the testing process.
“That is just to test the system. Everyone receives a different type of card. You could receive a concession card, an adult card, even the Compass tickets. It really depends… As for the credit, it is just there as part of the system, it is to test it; it is not actual, real money.”
Translink says the Compass beta test cards will expire after testing is complete.
The original trial will last from September 9 through October 1.
Translink says Compass Cards will be rolled out to small limited groups of passengers starting in late fall, with more being added in stages through the winter and into the spring of 2014.
More than 15,000 people applied to test the new card and were selected based on their frequency of transit use and to ensure there was representation from customers across TransLink’s service area.