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Translink Buzzer Blog

Compass Beta testing starts Monday!


Are you ready to test the system?

Are you ready to test the system? Follow the hashtag and @TransLink on Twitter

Starting Monday, September 9, you might start to see some people tapping in and tapping out with a Compass Card on the SkyTrain, SeaBus, West Coast Express and buses. They’re part of a group of 10,000 volunteer Compass Beta testers and we’re thrilled to have them helping us get the system right!

What does this mean for you?

If you’re not a Beta tester, just keep doing what you’ve always been doing!

If you’re a Beta tester, please remember to carry your usual valid paid fare—your Compass Beta test card will not be accepted as fare payment, it’s just for testing. Got feedback? Send it our way through the testing website as outlined in your welcome kit. And most importantly, don’t forget to tap in and tap out wherever you can!

What happens after Beta testing?

Once Beta testing is done in early October, we’ll analyze the results and make any changes that need to be made. After that, we’ll start slowly rolling out Compass to our customers in phases, beginning in late fall 2013.

For most riders, you won’t need to get your Compass Card until 2014, and we’ll be sure to let you know how and when to get it so you can start tapping! There’s lots of information coming your way in the next few months, so stay tuned.

For more information on Compass, please visit


  • By Allen, September 6, 2013 @ 3:16 pm

    Still bummed about not getting selected, but have fun guys! You’re performing a very important function. :)

  • By Sheba, September 6, 2013 @ 3:25 pm

    I’ve seen people already testing them this week.

  • By Tone1point1, September 6, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

    It is all I can do not to try it out before Monday! :D
    As a certified transit enthusiast/freak it’s a huge deal for me to be picked for testing.

  • By Tone1point1, September 6, 2013 @ 6:16 pm

    Not sure why my other comment appears as a reply to Sheba, didn’t mean that.

  • By Roland Milaire, September 7, 2013 @ 8:12 am

    It is great to test the Compass card. I am a bus driver. The hardest thing I found was to remember to tap out unless I keep my focus on that, otherwise, I just walk out without tapping. It will take some getting use to this.

  • By ;-), September 7, 2013 @ 10:49 pm

    Here is CTV’s experience…

  • By AL, September 8, 2013 @ 11:14 am

    Why can’t we program our “normal” route like other transits systems (Go, etc). Then you tap-in but the default tap-out is assumed unless you tap-out for a non typical journey. Will save congestion at the bus exits and reduce the need for call centre staff to handle mistakes.

  • By Cliff, September 9, 2013 @ 1:59 am

    @ AL

    That’s brilliant and simple. If you tap out early, then the rest our your plan could simply be discarded. And it would work for return trips too. If you don’t arrive for the first leg of your scheduled return trip, it would just be tossed too.

    They could even use a slightly different beep to let you know that your pre-programmed trip is active.

  • By Steph, September 9, 2013 @ 9:18 am

    Will those of us who are Employee Pass holders get our Compass cards before our current passes expire at the end of December 2013? Since Translink has cancelled that program starting January 2014, I would hope that we can start using Compass instead of having to go back to FareSavers or month passes, but this hasn’t been indicated anywhere.

  • By Tone1point1, September 9, 2013 @ 1:36 pm

    I was so eager to start testing the Compass card that I bought a day pass. So far system is only partially working. #239 & #240 buses completely ignored my card when I got on, but both said proceed when I tapped off. #5, #6, Waterfront and Lonsdale fare gates read the card ok though.

    I haven’t seen any asteroids on the card readers. :D

    Gotta run, more testing to do!

  • By Pamela Findling - Buzzer Contributor, September 9, 2013 @ 2:42 pm

    Thanks everyone for your questions! It’s exciting to see so many people out tapping in and out on the system already.

    Al: When we first launch, we want to focus on getting people used to using Compass and tapping in and out. Once we’re confident people are comfortable, we’ll look into the possibility of other features like this down the road.

    Steph: Small groups of users will be able to get their cards starting in late fall 2013. We’ll roll it out to other customers in phases, into the spring of 2014. There will likely be a couple of months where you’ll need to buy a standard monthly fare pass before you’ll be able to get a Compass Card.

    Tone1point1: Great feedback! Comments like these are what we need to help refine the system. Please be sure to log it on the compass Beta test website as well. No asteroids?!? Oh-oh… :-) Have fun getting tappy!

  • By Graham, September 9, 2013 @ 2:48 pm

    I’m excited to start tapping today! I am curious if after the period is up, beta testers will be the first to get the new proper Compass cards (with real fare, I mean as opposed to the testing card).

  • By Mike, September 9, 2013 @ 3:00 pm

    Just from my observations of others tapping into the system, I think the beep tone from faregates when a card is tapped is too long.

  • By Steph, September 9, 2013 @ 3:59 pm

    Thanks for the response, Pamela.

    I think the move towards having a reloadable Compass Card is great, but I don’t understand why Translink couldn’t have just kept the Employee Pass program in place until all participants had been migrated over to the new system. I understand some of the rationale behind removing the program once Compass was in place, and that the Compass Card is supposed to still provide a similar fare discount (although we’ll have to wait and see how it all works!), but it sounds like many of us will have several months where our transit fares increase (monthly passes are more expensive than the EPP), and we will lose the advantage of not having to think about purchasing new passes each month (something many EPP users haven’t had to do for years, which likely means we will forget to buy a new pass once or twice!).

    Perhaps these are small inconveniences, but it seems like the transition to Compass could have been made smoother by leaving EPP in place until we could actually get the Compass card, instead of forcing us to transition from EPP to another form of fare and then to Compass card.

  • By Robert, September 9, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

    I strongly agree with the sentiments expressed by Steph. Many people will be out of town for the holidays, some returning after Dec. 31st, and will need to pay a cash fare to travel to a vendor selling monthly passes for January. At the very least, the January monthly passes should be made available for sale by mid-December.

  • By Pamela Findling - Buzzer Contributor, September 9, 2013 @ 5:15 pm

    Hi Steph and Robert. I understand your concerns–the convenience of AutoLoad is one of the benefits of the Compass system and helps make the transition easier, especially when you’ve been using EPP already. We’ll have lots of information leading up to the transition away from EPP to tell each group of customers how and when they can get and use their cards. Robert: our monthly fare passes go on sale the 20th of each month, so there will be some time before the end of the program to pick up a monthly pass if needed. Our goal is to make the transition as successful as possible, so we’ll be rolling Compass it out in phases.

  • By Pamela Findling - Buzzer Contributor, September 9, 2013 @ 5:21 pm

    Mike: We’ve heard similar comments about the beeping tone from other people. Others have also said it’s too quiet. We know it’s hard to find a tone that works for everyone, but that’s the type of thing we hope to refine as part of the Beta testing.

    Graham: The roll out plan will start with small groups of people in late fall, but the specifics haven’t yet been announced. When we have that information available, we’ll post it right here on the blog!

  • By Pamela Findling - Buzzer Contributor, September 9, 2013 @ 5:23 pm

    Steph and Robert: I should point out that you might not need to get the monthly paper fare passes at all, it depends on where you fall in the roll out plan.

  • By Stefan, September 10, 2013 @ 9:23 am

    Hi, Pamela:

    What about those of us who have FareSaver tickets? For many people with non-standard commute patterns (e.g., going home in the off-peak or mixing transit and driving), FareSavers may be more economical than buying a monthly FareCard.

    It would be nice to be able to transition smoothly to Compass before FareSavers are completely phased out:
    * Will there be a period during which customers can elect to switch to Compass early, before it’s mandatory?
    * Will FareSavers continue to be accepted in 2014, even after they’re no longer sold?

  • By Angela Chang, September 11, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

    Hi Stefan: We will have an extended transition period in which both fare options (Compass Card and current fare media) will be accepted. Some may pick up their card earlier in the phase, others later on. As FareSaver tickets are transitioned out, you will still be able to use leftover FareSavers for a limited time during the transition from the old fare media to the new automated fare collection system. We’ll make sure to broadly advise the timing around the discontinuation of FareSavers and their use as valid Proof of Payment so customers can best manage the transition. Also, after the gates close, customers with leftover FareSavers can also transfer the balance onto a Compass Card. The Compass Card also provides a discount on regular fares with the Stored Value option. Hope this helps!

  • By Geoff, September 10, 2013 @ 9:58 am

    What prevents one from tapping out early? Scenario: One travels from PoCo to Vancouver on the 160, requiring a 3-zone fare. The inbound bus picks up and drops off within Zone 3. S/he could easily cheat the system and avoid a hefty $5.50 (or whatever the discounted prepaid price) by tapping in and out within Zone 3 and remain on the bus all the way to Vancouver.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, September 11, 2013 @ 10:03 am

    Hi Geoff: That’s a good question. If you tap out early, you’ll be on the system without valid fare and, just like now, subject to a fine. You must be tapped in as long as you are riding.

  • By Ben K, September 17, 2013 @ 8:29 pm

    How will fare inspections be conducted? Will inspectors walk around with portable Compass card readers that will be able to indicate the current trip and payment status?


  • By Pamela Findling - Buzzer Contributor, September 26, 2013 @ 4:21 pm

    Hi, Ben. Yes, you’re exactly right! Fare enforcement officers will have what we call HandHeld Units. The units will let them scan cards to find out if they’re valid and if additional ID is needed (as in the case of U-Pass BC).

Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Day #1 of Compass Beta testing — September 10, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

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