Tap on, tap off.
Those four words sum up how BCIT students will be taking transit in the near future.
There’s no set date as to when, but BCIT students will be scrapping their paper U-Pass cards for the new smart card.
According to spokesperson for Translink, Derek Zabel, once students have the new Compass Card, they will board transit by tapping on and exit by tapping off.
Translink will use this technology to keep track of commuter trends such as most-used routes and busiest times of day and to ensure people pay for the correct number of zones.
Zabel, said there are still details to be ironed out but the new smart cards —which have personal information data programmed into them — will change the way students take transit.
“What it is going to have the ability to do is for people to put start value onto it – which means adding money or value to the card,” Zabel told The Link.
[pullquote] “What it is going to have the ability to do is for people to put start value onto it – which means adding money or value to the card.” [/pullquote]
Mike Hanson, vice president of external affairs for the BCIT Student Association (BCITSA), said there will not be a price increase for students after the Compass Card is launched.
“The contract we negotiated with Translink and that was voted on by the students is in effect for the next three years regardless of the Compass Card coming out,” Hanson told The Link in an interview; “that’s set in stone.”
New media design and web development student, Rose Cass — who uses her U-Pass regularly throughout the year and in the summer — said she’s looking forward to the new Compass Card system but does have some concerns about it.
“I just hope they have the checks and balances in place to kind of track where it’s going, make sure our privacy is protected and also just think of ways to streamline the process,” Cass told The Link.
[pullquote] “I just hope they have the checks and balances in place to kind of track where it’s going, make sure our privacy is protected and also just think of ways to streamline the process.” [/pullquote]
Before being able to determine details of how the Compass Card will work for students, who currently renew (re-print) their U-Pass every month, Translink is undertaking beta testing according to Zabel.
Beta testing is when a product, usually a software such as that of the Compass Card, is released to selected customers for testing under normal, everyday conditions of use to spot any remaining flaws before commercial use.
“We’re looking for five thousand participants to go out there onto the system to help us iron out some of the kinks we may find,” said Zabel. “Beta testing will start in the early fall.”
Zabel estimated the beta testing will run for three to four weeks, perhaps longer.
He says once all problems are identified and resolved, Translink will move into a transition to Compass Card in the fall.
During the transition period, Translink will run both the current transit program and the new Compass Card program simultaneously.
“It will take a little bit of time for people to figure out how the technology is going to work; how to tap on and off ,” said Zabel. “So we’ll run that program for as long as it takes.”
Zabel said there are many benefits to the new Compass Card including more security if the card is lost since each one is registered.
“If you happen to lose your card or it gets stolen you can contact the Compass call centre and they can add that value that you had on your card onto a new card,” said Zabel.
Zabel added that students will no longer have to re-print a new pass every month.
Student Rose Cass told The Link she just hopes it is transparent to riders what Translink is doing with the personal information that will be loaded onto the Compass Card; overall, she is looking forward to using the new technology.
Neetu was born and raised in the Okanagan Valley (minus the few toddler years she spent living in Punjab, India where her line of heritage is from). She moved to the lower mainland to attend BCIT and is now in her graduating year of the Broadcast and Online Journalism Program. Her writing and editing for Link magazine often happens late at night because when she’s not at school she works as a reporter and anchor for CKNW Newstalk 980 and is also involved in the start up of a charity called the Beautiful World Foundation. She loves to travel and feels fortunate to be in a field where she can share the stories of interesting and inspiring people from around the world.