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This weeks column for 24Hrs: Taxpayers deserve better value for costly Translink Faregate system

This week, Brent and I take on the latest Faregate Folly…. the Compass Card fare evasion loophole.

This week’s topic: Does the latest Compass Card loophole undermine the value of the new system?

Taxpayers were treated to yet another in a series of TransLink follies recently with the news that Compass Card testers had quickly discovered an easy way to evade paying a full fare on the bus.

On any bus that travels through more than one zone, transit riders can tap in as they enter, head to the back and tap back out without getting off in order to avoid paying for more than one zone. Yes, it’s yet another form of fare evasion, the problem TransLink was allegedly trying to solve by installing faregates and introducing the Compass Card.

Read Brent Stafford’s column

Of course, TransLink immediately defended the loophole by stating Transit Police and security would be checking cards with mobile readers. This will likely add additional costs to the system. As most bus riders know — myself included — it’s a rarity to see fares checked on a bus. On the rare occasion you might actually see Transit Police checking fares, keep in mind that some of them pull in $100,000 or more a year in salary. Clearly, I’m in the wrong line of work.

Does this loophole undermine the value of the new Compass Card system? Absolutely, and when you consider the rapidly rising price tag of the entire deal, it begins to appear that this system will cost taxpayers more than it will save. This leads me to question if much value is really attached to the system at all…

Read the rest of this weeks column HERE :

Don’t forget, you only have 24Hrs to comment, but voting continues all week for who you think should win this week’s duel !



  1. Fare gates and the Compass Card will not reduce fare evasion, as the fare evasion issue is just spin by Ken Dobell who was lobbying for the Compass/Card fare-gates, on behalf of Cubitt Industries, to the BC Liberal Government. A compliant mainstream media spun the story of massive fare evasion out of all reality, where in fact, fare evasion on Translink was in the range of the industry norm.

    The Compass Card has nothing to do with fare-evasion and is being implemented to reduce costs of handling cash. Fare gates will do nothing to prevent fare evasion, unless they are manned and TransLink has stated that the fare gates will be unmanned.

    The missed story with the fare-gate issue is that we are being sold ‘old kit’, as the contactless fare card is now the way to go because it does away with fare gates altogether. When one passes through a control point, the fare card automatically deducts the appropriate fare and if someone passes through a control point without a fare card an attendant is alerted and checks to see if the customer has paid via another means. This does away with expensive to maintain fare gates and turnstiles.

    As it stands, installing the fare gates and using the Compass Card will cost more money than what was being lost to fare evasion. Why?

    1) The compass Card will reduce the number of people who do not regularly use the transit system. The ‘occasional’ transit customer maybe tourists or someone who wanted to make a day trip into town and with the fare gate system not accepting cash fares, will make NOT USING TRANSIT a far more easier decision.

    2) Fare evaders tend to fall into the category of soft ridership or transit riders, who when compelled to pay a fare, opt NOT to use the transit system. Upwards of 50% of the existing fare evaders may just not use the transit system, thus potential recouped revenue will not materialize, making the new card/gate system even more expensive!

    The real reason for the Compass Card probably has nothing to do with fare evasion at all, rather it may have something to do with a Liberal plan to privatize Translink and public transit.

    Our current fare structure is very easy as there is only one transit adjacency both operating the transit system and collecting fares, but if Translink were to be privatized, there is the possibility of many transit agencies vying for the transit customer’s fare.

    With old fare collection methods this was a very expensive accounting task ‘apportioning’ the correct revenue streams to the the right transit agency. This is why we had turnstile/fare gates in the first place; not to deter fare evasion, rather to count customers and/or collect customer’s tickets or both, for correct fare remuneration from the fare collecting authority. With the compass Card, tap in-tap out, makes apportioning fares very easy and if apportioning fares is easy, privatizing a transit system becomes a whole lot easier.

    So, the $187 million Compass Card/fare gate program, will not reduce fare evasion; will increase operational costs; and make it easier for the privatization of Translink. Now that is the real story!


  2. An interesting note. When you click on the icon of the commenters on the 24 hrs web page, you will find this:

    Zweisystem – 199 comments – 299 votes
    Blake Vanderheyden – 1 comment – one vote
    Leo – 1 comment – 0 vote
    I see the PAB trolls are at it again, which makes the poll on the page, next to useless.


  3. Certain Translink employees and Translink police weren’t happy about your mention of them being overpaid and were repeatedly voting for Brent all day. 24Hrs should engineer a poll that prevents IP addresses from voting more than once,its really easy to do. Ken Hardie knows exactly what I am talking about.


    • Certainly, if you can provide me with evidence of this, forward it to my email or via my contact page.

      I can’t speak to how 24Hrs sets their polls – I do know even on my blog I can prevent any IP address from voting more than once. Please pass on your feedback to 24Hrs staff/editors.


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