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Going slowly and getting it right

You’ve seen the gates at SkyTrain stations, you’ve seen the gizmos on buses, and you might have seen someone use a Compass Card. Naturally, you’re wondering when the Compass system will be in full swing.

We currently have 85,000 Compass Cards in use by TransLink and operating company employees, BC Bus Pass holders, and some CNIB (Canadian National Institute for the Blind) users. We’re eager to launch the card to the public, but we want to make sure everything is up to scratch before pushing ahead.


We’re taking the time to get it right

We’re working with our contractor to increase the transaction speed and reliability of our mobile validators (i.e., the gizmos on buses that read Compass Cards). Rather than roll out a system that doesn’t meet our standards for customer service, we’re making sure it is right for our customers before taking the next step.

What should you do in the next few months?

For now, it’s business as usual for our riders. While we work with the contractor to improve the performance of the mobile validators, it’s important for existing Compass Card holders to continue to tap in and tap out. The “taps” we’ve recorded since the inception of Compass have already painted a valuable picture of “what, where and when” people use transit. The data will help us make customer-focused decisions in the future.

If you don’t have a Compass Card, just keep using the system as you always have, and we’ll provide further updates as work progresses. When the time comes for the next phase of our rollout, we’ll give you lots of notice.

What does everyone else think about Compass?

We’ve learned from cities around the world that extended delivery schedules are common with major system changes like the Compass project. In April 2014, we invited peer reviewers from LA, Montreal, Seattle and San Francisco to evaluate our progress. They all agreed that we’re on the right track, making good progress by industry standards.

Ask away at






  • By Ben Kennedy, July 10, 2014 @ 1:19 pm

    This article is a marketing-managed way of admitting that delivery has been delayed yet again, I suppose?

    “They all agreed that we’re on the right track, making good progress by industry standards ”—sounds a little bit at odds with what’s been reported elsewhere!

  • By Compass Team, July 10, 2014 @ 3:46 pm

    Hi Ben. In answer to your question, this blog post is an explanation of why Compass isn’t in full swing. In answer to your comment, major technology projects take time and, more often than not, the schedule changes. Our peers tell us this has been their experience as well, so we are not unique in that regard. We’re doing the best we can to move this project forward. In the meantime, it’s business as usual for our customers.

  • By Sheba, July 10, 2014 @ 6:53 pm

    While it is true that major tech projects do take time, the PR on this and many other TransLink projects is abysmal. Instead of waiting and then posting an ‘oops’ type reason for what’s going on, you should try being proactive and letting people know what’s going on on a regular basis.

  • By Mike, July 11, 2014 @ 10:47 am

    I agree with Sheba. While people can understand that big projects like this can be lengthy to implement, it’s better to let people know what’s going on rather than keep us in the dark with only the absolute minimal amount of updates.
    Also, why doesn’t Translink set a firm deadline for the contractor Cubic to solve the issues with the bus validators, then they can hold them to account if the deadline is missed, rather than continue to extend the date further and further?

  • By Compass Team, July 11, 2014 @ 3:52 pm

    Hi Mike. In answer to your question, as you can imagine, TransLink has a legal contract with Cubic, which has all kinds of stipulations for both parties. None of which, however, can be disclosed. But we hear what you’re saying. Thanks for your feedback about updates. We’ll pass it along.

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