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Printing issue on 2-zone FareCards

Our media relations team just sent this out — I thought you would like to know too!

A number of customers who purchase two-zone FareCards for May will notice that the Zone Designator – the small disc which needs to be removed if a customer is travelling between Zones 2 and 3 – does not scratch off cleanly.

The printing underneath the scratch surface is faint, and if scratched too hard, the card can be damaged.

The manufacturer of the FareCards alerted TransLink’s FareDealer office to the problem. Customers can be assured that the card is valid if it’s obvious that the disc has been scratched. If they scratch gently, using a penny or a nickel – something that does not have a ridge – it is more likely the disc will come off cleanly.

Front-line staff throughout the TransLink family have been notified.


  • By ;-), April 30, 2010 @ 4:40 pm

    Perhaps we need a “scratch ‘n sniff” solution.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 30, 2010 @ 4:41 pm

    Mmm. Zone 2 could smell like strawberries.

  • By Sean (CMBC), April 30, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

    I would like to suggest that the 2 zone pass be set up to more closely look like the 1 zone pass… With the zones 1, 2 and 3 right in the middle of the card, have the Zone 2 already scratched off (never covered over), and then the person buying the pass either scratches-chooses Zone 1 OR Zone 3 to go along with zone 2…

  • By Sean (CMBC), April 30, 2010 @ 5:01 pm

    Here’s a question: Why not design the monthly passes to have the black strip on it so that it can be run through the fareboxes like the yearly passes, U-passes, employer passes, etc???

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, April 30, 2010 @ 5:11 pm

    Both of those are definitely good suggestions — but with smartcard coming within a year or two, I don’t think we’ll be doing any major upgrades to the ticketing system between now and then!

  • By Andrew S, April 30, 2010 @ 5:58 pm

    But isn’t there already kind of a problem with the yearly passes that have the magnetic strip: the words and photos and everything rub off! And plus, it will slow down the process of getting onto the bus because then everyone has to stick his card in the slot =P

  • By ericmk, April 30, 2010 @ 6:18 pm

    I hope the new smartcard (like the ORCA card in Seattle, right?) will be touch-based so that you only have to touch the card against a censor for it to register rather than sliding it through a slot. Though, by experience with these systems, printing and numbers fade off over time anyway, even if there is no slot like the ORCA!

  • By Gregory Marler of, April 30, 2010 @ 6:31 pm

    Erickmk might be refereeing to what is actually known as “touchless” (Oyster Card in London). It needs to be tapped fairly close, but it can do this through a wallet or glove. Saves time fumbling to get the card out or get your hands cold.

  • By Ric, April 30, 2010 @ 6:31 pm

    What’s the smartcard program?

  • By ericmk, April 30, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

    Gregory Marler of, that is what I’m talking about. They also have it for the Washington DC metro, it’s called SmarTrip there. It’s very convenient and really helps unify transit fares if there are several different agencies, like DC and to an even greater effect, Seattle! In my experience, the farthest I could get one of these cards from the reader to register is with one corner touching the reader. While I think physical touching isn’t necessary to register, the signals don’t work that far away, I guess!

  • By Cliff, April 30, 2010 @ 8:51 pm

    Once, when I bought a two zone pass, I realized that I had purchased it in Vancouver but needed to get out to Coquitlam.

    Cleverly, I refrained from scratching until I got to Lougheed Mall, then scratched it for my trip home.

  • By Dave 2, April 30, 2010 @ 9:32 pm

    I never scratch as I use it for 1-2; maybe in a month I’ll compare May’s card with April’s.

    Despite buying these passes almost every month for more than 5 years, I only recently noticed that each month has a different transit scene in the background. Collect all 12, only $1,188 (though the $178.20 tax deduction lessens the blow)…(all $ values based on 2009 fares)

  • By Jim, April 30, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

    I am hoping the new smart cards can be incorporated so that when I get a iphone I can just tap my phone.(using RFID technology) I am looking forward in the year ahead or two to finally get ride of the need for my wallet! Quiet excited.

  • By Bill Kinkaid, April 30, 2010 @ 9:55 pm

    It’s not just two zone passes – I bought a one zone pass today and the same thing happened with it.

  • By Ric, May 1, 2010 @ 12:28 am

    I have been using 1 zone monthly farecards since September 2008 and I have never scratched off any zone panels, since I am a Kwantlen student and have a fast trax sticker it is not necessary to scratch off any panels. Lucky me!

    However, there has been times when drivers don’t honour my fast trax sticker and make me purchase add fares when travelling across more than 1 zone. Lucky we will ne getting the u pass soon which will replace the fast trax and these problems will be eliminated. I just can’t waut till Kwantlen gets the u pass.

  • By Sean (CMBC), May 1, 2010 @ 5:49 am

    Ric: Technically you DO have to pick one zone, the zone you travel in the most, and THEN with the FastTrax sticker you don’t have to pay the extra $1.25/$2.50 when travelling beyond the zone you chose…
    Please scratch the zone you travel in the most, and then show the Fastrax sticker when outside that zone on weekdays… Thank you…

  • By Cliff, May 1, 2010 @ 10:53 am

    That would be because technically the pass is transferable, but the sticker is not, I’m guessing…

  • By Ric, May 1, 2010 @ 3:29 pm

    Sean, I was told by Kwantlen not to scratch of any zone panels otherwise the fast trax sticker will be invalid. I also don’t have a zone that I travel in the most as I travel from Richmond (zone 2) into Surrey (zone 3) all the time when going to Kwantlen and travel into Downtown Vancouver (zone 1) after school. Since I use all three zones every day there isn’t one that I travel in the most.

    Should I scratch off all three zones?

  • By Sean (CMBC), May 1, 2010 @ 3:55 pm

    You should only scratch ONE zone, as it is a ONE zone pass… When you are travelling outside that zone, then you need to show the FastTrax sticker & Student ID, weekdays before 6:30pm…
    If I was you, I’d scratch the zone that you live in???

  • By Ric, May 1, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

    Sean, I have been told by told by Kwantlen not to scratch off any panels. Should I still scratch off a zone panel then?

  • By Mark!, May 1, 2010 @ 9:58 pm

    Not sure why Kwantlen told you not to scratch it, transit police told one of my friends to scratch one off because the pass isn’t valid unscratched even with the FastTrax sticker. I’ve always scratched one zone off and never run into problems.

    Scratch off whichever zone you get farechecked in the most and party likes it’s 1999.

  • By Tim Choi, May 2, 2010 @ 11:51 am

    Phew, I was worried about this because I got a 2-zone card just yesterday and had a heck of a time trying to figure out whether I was scratching too much or not enough, and then got worried as to whether drivers may see it as suspicious. Thanks for posting this, Jhennifer!

    With regards to the concerns about magnetic stripes on cards like U-pass and that it’ll delay boarding, drivers in my experience have never requested that you take the card and swipe it – they let you on just so long as you flash it.

  • By Ric, May 2, 2010 @ 3:30 pm

    Mark, Sean, in fact, when I first went to Kwantlen I scratched off a zone panel on my 1 zone fare card and purchased the FastTrax sticker. However onc when I was on the 496 Railway bus going from Downtown Vancouver to Richmond, which is two zones, I showed my one zone fare card along with my FastTrax & student ID, the driver told me that my FastTrax was invalid and I had to do a fare upgrade.

    I talked to the Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) who is in charge of the FastTrax, about what happened they asked me to show them my FastTrax, Student ID and one zone fare card. They told me that my FastTrax was invalid because I had scratched off a zone panel on the on zone fare card. The Kwantlen Student Association (KSA) told me that in order for the FastTrax to work you can’t scratch off any panels on the fare card.

  • By Sean (CMBC), May 2, 2010 @ 4:02 pm

    Do what you want… I don’t care… i’m just a bus driver… I guess I don’t know what I’m talking about… I should just drive the bus and let Transit Police/Security enforce the fares…
    You scratch or don’t scratch… I really don’t care!

  • By Ric, May 2, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

    Sean, in fact I have been on the bus many times when transit police/security were doing fare inspections. When they asked me to show them my ticket, I showed them my one zone fare card (no panels scratched) and FastTrax with student ID and they just took a look and left. I did not get a fine nor did the transit police/security tell me to scratch off a zone on my fare card.

  • By Ric, May 2, 2010 @ 4:47 pm

    Mark, do you have a FastTrax sticker?

  • By Mark!, May 3, 2010 @ 2:04 pm

    Ric, yes I do.

  • By Ric, May 3, 2010 @ 2:20 pm

    Zack, which school do you go to then? Maybe the procedure is different for each school that has the FastTrax.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, May 3, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

    Bill Kinkaid: I passed your comment on to our FareDealer department — they are aware of the 1-zone FareCards having issues too, but apparently the 2-zone error is MUCH worse.

  • By Mikey, May 5, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

    I have a yearly employer pass and was wondering do I need to swipe it when I travel on skytrain? Translink gets my payment every month, what does swiping an annual pass do?

  • By Sean (CMBC), May 5, 2010 @ 4:19 pm

    If it has the black strip on it, technically you should be putting it into the fareboxes on buses, but otherwise I believe it’s just a “Flash” pass… Just show it when asked…

  • By Ric, May 5, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

    Anyone, once a faresaver ticket has been validated on the bus, or if you are paying cash fares on the bus and the driver gives you a transfer, and we need to transfer onto the skytrain, I notice that some people run the validated faresaver tickets/tickets dispensed from the fare boxes on the buses through the ticket validator. Is this procedure necessary?

    Once I also saw a UBC student run their U-Pass through the ticket validator. Again is this procedure necessary?

    Can the FastTrax be used with faresaver tickets as well or just the monthly passes?

  • By Dan T, May 5, 2010 @ 4:58 pm

    Ric: With respect to the U-pass, as a UBC student, my understanding is that we *should* be running our passes through the validators every time, for some reason or another, but in practice it seems most drivers would prefer to load the bus faster and just wave us on anyways (in all zones, I live in zone 3 and commute every day). Throughout my schooling I have never once been asked to run the upass, even by the transit police, though they occasionally check the picture.

    So necessary? Technically… but in practice, it’s just slowing the system down.

  • By Ric, May 5, 2010 @ 5:23 pm

    Dan, I’m not talking about people running u-passes through the fare box on the bus, but what I’m talking about is people running their u-passes through the ticket validator, (machines that validate the faresaver tickets at skytrain stations) when they are transferring to or going on the skytrain or Canada line.

  • By Dan T, May 5, 2010 @ 5:30 pm

    Oh, in that case, I can’t possibly imagine why they would do that. That seems quite redundant, as there is absolutely nothing to “activate”.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, May 6, 2010 @ 3:51 pm

    Mikey: like the U-Pass, employer passes only need to be put through the farebox on buses, and do not need to be validated at SkyTrain stations.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, May 6, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

    Ric: FastTrax can only be used with FareCards, as indicated on the TransLink website.

  • By Cliff, May 8, 2010 @ 11:07 am

    The validators are used in transit studies. By not running the passes through the machine, they can’t as effectively help people find ways to get around.

    On the other hand, if the bus does load faster and is subsequently able to leave faster and on schedule because people are not scanning their passes, then one needs to weigh that advantage over a transit study.

    Me? As much as I like using data to figure out stuff…. Get those passengers on quick and go go go!

  • By Ric, October 5, 2010 @ 8:45 pm

    Are West Coast Express one way tickets valid for travel on the bus?

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