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Compass: the winning name of TransLink’s electronic fare card

Compass: our new electronic fare card

As many of you may know by now: Compass is the name of our electronic fare card, which will debut in 2013!

That’s right—after 10,000 votes on the three final names for our smartcard, over 40% of the vote went to the name Compass. Staff have been out at major transit exchanges all across the region this morning, handing out Compass pass holders and more to announce the new name.

The contest’s winner—drawn from all those who submitted “Compass” to our contest in fall 2010—will be announced later this morning, so I’ll have that info for you up in a bit. Edit: Here’s the post about the winner, Oleksiy Gayda!

But for now: feel free to share what you think of the new name et al in the comments. And as always, for more on the smartcard project, see the main smartcard project page, or the past Buzzer blog smartcard posts.


  • By zack, March 31, 2011 @ 10:21 am

    WOW!!! People may debate whether or not Compass is a good name, but I we should put that debate aside and congratulate to whoever named the new farecard! Because he or she must on top of the world right now!! A free iPad and year’s worth of free transit!! :)

  • By Jot Kali, March 31, 2011 @ 11:42 am

    Great name ! In every direction Vancouver and area is beautiful, and you get there by transit. The name fits well

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, March 31, 2011 @ 11:56 am

    zack: the post about the winner is now up!

  • By huenthar, March 31, 2011 @ 11:57 am

    Well, it’s official. We are now the ONLY city – in THE ENTIRE WORLD – that has duplicated someone else’s transit card name, Way to go TransLink! Show off some of out world-famous creativity and innovation! This is an embarrassment!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, March 31, 2011 @ 1:44 pm

    Huenthar: It is indeed true that San Diego has a card called the Compass card. I sent your question along to our project team to ask about that, and here’s their response:

    Our compass card is a local card and would have no application outside BC, so we really don’t see any conflict. We did a trademark search and have the name trademarked for our purpose already. Compass was one of our most popular entries, with 72 submissions last fall. In all of our testing and research it proved to be a popular choice, and was one of the 3 finalists that we put to a public vote. In the end, the public selected Compass, further reinforcing its appropriateness for our card. It is obviously a popular name for our local card, and one that resonates in our region.

  • By Cameron W., March 31, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

    As someone who hates the name, but still voted for it, I would suggest that many people voted for it just because the other two were worse.

    Long live the Otter Pass!

  • By Dave, March 31, 2011 @ 2:31 pm

    I wonder if San Diego will take legal action against Translink. That would be quite the story.

  • By scottclayton, March 31, 2011 @ 3:42 pm

    Though I’m admittedly not big on the name—maybe because I’m stubborn and liked some of my entries more—but I think the card itself is very beautiful, and I suspect the “C”-compass logo will become easily identifiable in the coming years.

    I’m surprised surprised to hear that there were only 72 submissions though, as my wife and I submitted around 40 between the two of us alone, and I am a little skeptical that we would exhaust ≈4/7ths of the variations, but it’s cool.

    Congratulations on the launch, and congratulations to the winner. I look forward to compassing it up in 2013!

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, March 31, 2011 @ 3:44 pm

    scottclayton: No no — there were 72 submissions of the name “Compass”! There were 56,000 contest entries in total, and 14,000 unique names. Sorry if I confused you!

  • By Robert, March 31, 2011 @ 4:59 pm

    I got a pass holder, but now my friend wants one. Where can she get one?

  • By TK, March 31, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

    I for one… LOVE LIVE THE OTTER!

  • By zack, March 31, 2011 @ 5:33 pm

    What’s so bad about Compass anyways??! I’ve heard too many people complain about the new farecard name, but I think its a very cool name since Compass really means a guide in navigation in which we all need right?

  • By Leo, March 31, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

    Translink should have use their common sense and not include “compass” as one of the finalist. Hello, we already share the name Vancouver with Washington now we are sharing the name Compass with San Diego. I don’t blame the voters most of them didn’t know that San Diego has this name already. If the public knew this ahead of time the result would have been different.

  • By Leo, March 31, 2011 @ 6:13 pm

    Anyway the colour of the card reminds me of the blue jacket that the Olympic volunteer were wearing.

  • By Chris, March 31, 2011 @ 7:16 pm

    Cautious and unexciting. Weren’t the Olympics supposed to change this about Vancouver?

    I would have liked something with more local flavour.

  • By Sour grapes, March 31, 2011 @ 10:10 pm

    @zack – Other than already being used by another transit system, there’s nothing really that wrong with the name Compass.

    What’s wrong is that a Translink panel decided unilaterally and abruptly to toss out 3 of the final 4 names submitted by the public (George, Otter, and Umbrella) and insert 2 of their own candidates (Starfish and T-Pass).

    Seeing that there were over 56,000 name submissions but only over 10,000 voted on Translink’s preferred names suggests that an awful lot of those submitters deliberately did not vote (i.e. preferred “none of the above”), likely out of disgust over having the output of a consultative process usurped in the end by an internal committee.

  • By huenthar, April 1, 2011 @ 2:41 am

    Thanks for that reply, Jennifer.

    It seems like TransLink believes that adopting a copycat name will have no negative influence on the brand image of our smartcard (or of our transit system, or of our city as a whole) either in the short or long term. Indeed, it seems they think uniqueness of identity is a completely unimportant part of branding in general. Needless to say, I disagree. I think copycat-naming cheapens the brand considerably.

    Second Leo’s comment: how would the vote have gone had people known/been informed that Compass has been used already? Did TransLink deliberately not inform people of this relevant fact, or did they just think it didn’t matter and wasn’t important?

  • By ???, April 1, 2011 @ 8:14 am

    I too was hoping for something more original. I remember when “Translink” selected and it was previously used for something like a “cattle drive” elsewhere in the world.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, April 1, 2011 @ 8:38 am

    @Sour grapes

    Thanks for spelling out the statistics. I know that they responded about why they tossed out the 3 names, but somehow it didn’t really get across to all of us, considering how unhappy we are.

    Personally, I sort of don’t care about the name of the thing that is going to cost me an arm and a leg, but I totally agree with what you are saying about the naming process. This shows how unmovable government organizations are.

  • By Steven, April 1, 2011 @ 12:38 pm

    There was much debate when London Transport revealed the name of their card, Oyster. At the end of the day there are more important issues in life to think about. We will all see the advantages of having such a card and Translink’s goal will be met.

    I love that London Transport is issuing a special Royal Wedding Oyster Card:

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, April 1, 2011 @ 1:02 pm

    A Royal Wedding Oyster card! That’s awesome!

  • By Steven, April 1, 2011 @ 2:29 pm

    Thanks for tweeting that Jhenifer. Personally I would love someone to do a Royal Wedding Oyster Card holder such as this – I wonder if Translink will do any special edition cards or holders. I would buy them and add them to my collection!

  • By TK, April 1, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

    Maybe special edition cards for popular names that didn’t make it to the final list?

  • By Donna (CMBC), April 2, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

    I’m not really convinced that Compass not being original matters that much. While it kinda bugs me a little, well .. heck, “Translink” isn’t even an original name, but I think that only affects people in Australia who tweet at their Translink and reach ours instead. :) Turns out, transit is a fairly local affair (unless you’re total transit junkies… which admittedly, I think a few of us who read this blog probably are.)

    See for Translink in Queensland, AU.

  • By Jonathan, April 5, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

    I always thought something that begins in “O” would be best – kind of follow the global trend (ie. London with the Oyster, and Hong Kong with the Octopus). I like otter, but Orca seems more fitting because of it’s significance with the coast, the first nations, and is generally a representative animal of BC. Otters are found all over the world, where as Orca’s are not. Also, Orca’s have a sort of built-in “compass” that they use to migrate.

  • By Dan Cooper, April 7, 2011 @ 2:42 pm

    Ah well. Compass is probably the least worst of the three finalists. It has no local relevance and is derivative of another city’s card name. Still, unlike the other options it doesn’t actually combine a slang term for a body part with the intials of a relevant paper product (TPass) or the incorrect name of an animal that moves very slowly (Starfish). So, here’s one cheer for Compass, I suppose!

  • By anon, April 15, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    I think the name is quite smart: the compass representing directions and it has the word pass in the name too. How cares if San Diego has the same name for its farecard. I like the logo and colour of the pass. Leo, Canada as well as the US all have cities that have been named after places in the United Kingdom or explorers, so that fact that we share a city name with a city in the US is not that surprising.

  • By Jorge, June 27, 2017 @ 9:09 am

    I am sure I proposed the “Compass” name in this contest, but I was kicked out in this context. Probably hundreds of people participated in this contest and I don’t think they keep these names in their record. Very disappointing.

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Introducing the new editor of the Buzzer: Robert Willis! — April 12, 2011 @ 1:57 pm

  2. Translink: Trans-efficient? Or Trans-disaster? | Y57 Media — August 16, 2012 @ 1:57 pm

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