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Translink Buzzer Blog

Smart card naming contest vote now open, January 14-28, 2011

Validating your ticket will just require a tap of the smartcard come 2013.

OK: voting is now live for the smart card contest finalists!

Visit to select your pick for the winning name. As mentioned previously, the poll will be open until Friday, January 28, 2011, and the winner and its brand identity will be announced in March. The actual smart card system is slated for launch in 2013.

Also, response has been tremendous in the last post about the final three names. Rest assured, I am passing on all your feedback to the project team! Please keep it coming: we really do want to know what you all think of our work, as we can’t improve without your notes.

Click here for the past blog posts on the smart card, and see the main TransLink smart card page for more info on the smart card project.


  • By cree, January 14, 2011 @ 12:19 pm

    Vote Starfish. that is all.

  • By TK, January 14, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    No vote for me.

    Also, I’ve informed San Diego transit about the potential of us using Compass as the name. We should hear back from them soon.

  • By Sewing, January 14, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

    It looks like there’s nothing stopping a person from voting more than once, if one were so inclined.

    Of course I’d prefer to win, but at the end of the day, I don’t mind so much if Tpass wins or not,* but that it’s a fair vote. As it is, the vote can go to whoever has the time and inclination to make it go their way, like certain talent shows on TV.

    * (I’d prefer “T-Pass” with a hyphen, anyhow, to be consistent with “U-Pass.”)

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, January 14, 2011 @ 12:43 pm

    Sewing: The web team is looking into this as multiple votes are clearly not allowed! This should be fixed soon.

  • By craig, January 14, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

    Jhenifer, you must pass my message onto the card team. I mean, everyone is talking about these selections at work and everyone is shaking their heads or laughing. I’m not kidding. But the consensus is STARFISH is the best choice. You’ll find this all over message boards around the net too. Umbrella was everyone’s fav.

    The main reasons are is that Compass is already used by San Diego’s transit for their card so it’s totally unoriginal. It’s an overused word anyway.

    As for TPass, this generated the most laughs. Everyone knows that colloquially TP means toilet paper and combining that with the last three letters of that proposed name is a branding nightmare.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, January 14, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

    craig: thanks for sending that along! I am collecting all of the feedback on the smartcard and making sure it gets to the project team.

  • By Cameron W., January 14, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

    What was the point of the public consultation if the three most popular choices got scrapped anyway? Why even pretend there’s public involvement.

  • By K. A, January 14, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

    COMPASS is as good a name as any, if not better. COMPASS is not an overused word. Why starfish? Why not salmon for that matter? After all, we live on the Pacific Coast.

    COMPASS encompasses the community as a whole. With the Olympics and the sense of community we all felt, why wouldn’t COMPASS be appropriate?

    COMPASS is appropriate so I am voting for it and urge others to do so.

  • By ericmk, January 14, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

    TPass is actually Tpass! The bad references don’t seem as obvious when spelled that way. After looking at the contest page with the descriptions and the video, I am growing on Tpass- I just realized it would go very well with the T for transit signage and potential use of transaction in the future. I might have to spend the weekend deliberating over my options! ;)

  • By David, January 14, 2011 @ 4:11 pm

    What’s the point of voting if all 3 choices are terrible? Pick the less of 3 evils? To the people saying “Starfish” is good, please do yourself a favour and search the word on All 3 choices are open for ridicule and don’t represent Metro Vancouver.
    Starfish = also a slang that has a derogatory meaning.
    Compass = unoriginal and copycat, as it is already used by San Diego’s transit system.
    TPass = can be easily read as “tee-pee-ass” or “toilet paper ass”

    I would only vote if there’s an “none of the above” option. Futhermore, I want to know how “Starfish” and “TPass” made it to the final 3 when those 2 names were never mentioned in previous surveys.

  • By Jacob, January 14, 2011 @ 5:12 pm

    I did a quick survey on the streets of vancouver and asked which one of these would you want to be the for the smart card system in vancouver.
    Results, Tcard with the over whelming majority-19 votes
    far back were starfish and compass-10 and 9 votes respectively.
    Surprisingly, only a few of the people knew what “smartcard” was, and many hadn’t even heard about the program. Translink needs to do much better marketing to get different people, and a better diversity of votes.

  • By Jacob, January 14, 2011 @ 5:16 pm

    Personally, I like starfish card- it fits easily with octopus, oyster…
    But according to my quick survey above, t card is going to win.

  • By craig, January 14, 2011 @ 5:17 pm

    Compass is a completely overused word. Oh my, do a simple google search, the proof is there with a variety of companies and consumer products; a US airline, a popular car, a wide array of tech companies, political group, a famous global food group, travel and recreation companies, it’s endless. It’s mundane, unoriginal, and most importantly it’s used already by another West Coast city’s transit system, San Diego! What’s funny, if you’re going to point of using another city’s smartcard name than why not just use Seattle’s ORCA? No-brainer.

    In fact, Tpass I’d prefer over Compass if I had to choose between both. Starfish is surely the better of the three evils anyway.

    TL should have gone the route London did for Oyster and had world experts Saatchi and Saatchi Design come up with a name. A brilliant brand implying “security and value”. If I had the money I would have paid for the consulting myself.

  • By Reva, January 14, 2011 @ 5:21 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with Cameron and David: What was the point of the public consultation if the most interesting names were scrapped, and how did two names which didn’t make the public consultation end up in the final running??

    I don’t think 3 names is adequate to choose from for the final vote anyway, there should be at least 5.

    Bring back Umbrella and George!!!

    TPass wouldn’t be so bad… we do have UPass, after all… :)

  • By ben K, January 14, 2011 @ 7:01 pm

    There is no practical way to prevent multiple voting, unless you force the user to login by e-mail with a one-use token or something — even then, it’s trivial to create new e-mail addresses, though for something like this perhaps few would bother.

    It’s too bad there’s no “abstain” or “spoil ballot” option!


  • By K, January 14, 2011 @ 7:09 pm

    Someone please Urban Dictionary the word Starfish.

    Out of all 3 of those entries, nothing shouts “Vancouver” at all.

  • By William, January 14, 2011 @ 7:26 pm

    I think the contest is a little bit cheap.:P Only 1 lucky winner out of all those suggested the same name gets the prize doesn’t sound very good to the rest who won but did not get a prize.They should all get something.

  • By peter b, January 14, 2011 @ 9:11 pm

    tx K — just checked the urban dictionary — starfish is definitely out — re: T-Pass — it should definitely have a dash! Plus… somebody forgot that T is also for ticket and tourism — plus it matches translink’s big blue T.

    still… I prefer compass.


  • By Angela, January 14, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

    do not use Star Fish it means ass-suck I know a bunch of people that use it as an insult. do not do it. Star=ass fish=suck (that is what they do) use T-Pass or something that has to do with BC and its beauty.

  • By Dave 2, January 14, 2011 @ 11:32 pm

    despite what urban dictionary says re: starfish… and TP-Ass… it’s obvious from the 80+ responses in the other thread, and 20+ in this one, that we Vancouverites are passionate about what our card is going to be called, as whatever wins is going to be with us for 20, 30, 40 years.

    What was wrong with “Buzzer” card? No other city uses that name, it’s not code for sexual innuendo on Urban Dictionary ( I assume, I have not checked)… and it has a history with BC Transit dating back about 100 years…..

  • By JC, January 15, 2011 @ 5:11 pm

    Umm… Star fish isn’t even the correct name for the animal… it’s not a fish… “Sea Star” is what they should be known as… get it right if you’re gonna use it. Otherwise you’re just misleading the kids with “fish” when it is not.

  • By Johnny Bravo Combs His Hair, January 16, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

    The name should be something that’s easy to market. Translink should simply be consulting with marketing firms on how to market the card in a way to increase ridership. The plan should be a marketing blitz once the card is available. The only goal should be to come up with something catchy. Use the experts, not the public. Sorry if this sounds cold, but on this blog you’re preaching to the converted.

  • By Joe Public, January 17, 2011 @ 11:46 am

    I all have to say about the 3 selections is that it is extrememly arrogant of the TransLink marketing & executive teams to veto 3 of the public’s original choices (George, Otter, Umbrella) and add 2 new choices. First of all Tpass, even if looked at from the perspective of matching the ‘T’ symbol at skytrain stations, is hardly catchy or original. In fact, Boston already calls their transit system the ‘T’. Why doesn’t TransLink just show us the graphics they’ve likely aleady designed & stop pretending that any of this is meant to truly give the public a say in their transit system.

  • By Croak, January 17, 2011 @ 12:20 pm

    Of all the 3 offered I prefer compass — COMuter PASS, It would be easily marketable, many ways to portray a compass in regards to styles and it to me it represents a tool that assists in getting people from point A to point B — is this not Translink’s main purpose. So what if San Diego uses it for theirs, obviously its a good name. However I kind of would like to see UMBRELLA brought back as well. anyway may the best name win. . . .

  • By Croak, January 17, 2011 @ 12:24 pm

    Oh yeah forget to comment on the other derogative perspectives for the other 2 names — I agree — starfish — please do not use, I am sure we will be in the funny section of other city’s newspapers for sure as well as TPass — all I can see when I look at it is TP ass— toilet paper ass, can see teenage kids joking — hey can you spare some TP. . . Please do not choose this one. .

  • By Last351, January 17, 2011 @ 11:57 pm

    I’m sorry, Jhenifer. You have to step in here! Those are terrible choices! From the company that came up with “99 B-Line”, with the whole bee mascot and the idea that it makes “bee line” down Broadway, I expect something a little more brilliant.

  • By Anonymous, January 18, 2011 @ 12:36 am

    To Croak above. Compass? And who cares if San Diego is already using it? You can’t be serious. Why not just use a better name then and rip off Octopus or Oyster? Translink says on the contest page themselves – “Hong Kong has the Octopus Card, in London it’s the Oyster and in Boston they’ve got the Charlie Card. Our card needs a name too” – Why on Earth would Translink want to use the name for their future big brand that is already being used as a smartcard by our west coast friends down in San Diego? Not only is it unprofessional but it goes against what the contest is about. The contest people just didn’t do their research obviously on Compass.

    On the previous names. The probable reason why Umbrella, George, and Otter are not on any finalist list is because of trademark laws. Especially the first two, they are way too common. Translink’s decision to use the public to come up with name ideas is the reason why you would have problems with names not being picked. This would have been avoided had the public not been used in the naming process. A brand consultant would have weeded out used names through trademark registers way beforehand.

  • By craig, January 18, 2011 @ 12:38 am

    Sorry, that was my post above, forgot to put name.

  • By Andy (CMBC), January 21, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    Hmm… not sure why it wasn’t mentioned here. On the Intranet, here is the reason given for the choices:

    George, Umbrella and Otter – Where Are They Now (and Why)?

    After the naming contest finalists were announced in December, focus groups were asked their opinions of the originally announced choices: Compass, George, Umbrella and Otter.

    The electronic fare card name will be used by our customers and employees for years to come, so it’s very important that we get it right. Initial market research and focus groups indicated that many customers simply did not have a strong enough reaction to George, Umbrella or Otter.

    Further market research showed customers responded very positively to Compass and Starfish. Therefore, to ensure it has a name that resonates with our customers, we have revised the ballot slightly to give some options to truly get excited about.

  • By Francesca, January 25, 2011 @ 10:25 am

    Please bring back Umbrella as an option!! It was a fantastic suggestion! (In fact…it was my entry and the comments below agree). Why Umbrella? We are known as a rainy city but we don’t let that stop us from getting out, having fun and enjoying Vancouver. We put up our umbrellas and charge out into the world! The umbrella is an overarching (pun intended) theme that offers a safe way to transit across the Lower Mainland…just like our transit system! So bring it back and let the people of Vancouver open their Umbrellas! Like this comment if you agree!!

  • By Mags, January 25, 2011 @ 1:37 pm

    I believe we should call the new Smart Card, “The Coast” card. Because we have the opportunity to “coast” through all the different wonders of British Columbia has to offer. Such as, we are nestled in between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the magnificent Rocky Mountains to the east. Also, we are surrounded with beautiful landscapes, forests to hike and beaches to “coast” through. Not to mention, the food and shopping. There is so much British Columbia has to offer and so much yet to be discovered.
    Why don’t we all come together and “coast” through Beautiful British Columbia.

  • By TK, January 25, 2011 @ 11:31 pm

    No can do. BC Ferries already have “Coast Card.”

  • By Sara, January 29, 2011 @ 1:20 pm

    Upon my many entries I entered Compass but I don’t know how many other people entered it as well but upon my submission, I entered it as ComPass specifically spelled that way. The way I got around to the name was fusing the words COMMUTE with PASS. To my surprise, it spelled something that made sense at the same time. So in copyright matters i think the spelling should be distinguished as ComPass. However, I do understand Translink said if it were the case that multiple people submitted the winning name they will make a random draw out of those names to determine the winner. Just thought I’d tell everyone how I came to that point in entering that name – then again anyone that entered compass could win. Either way, best of luck to potential winners!

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