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TransLink to begin rolling out Compass Cards to post-secondary students starting in January 2015

TransLink to begin rolling out Compass Cards to post-secondary students starting in January 2015

Compass Card

We have a Compass Card update!

The next group to receive Compass Cards will be post-secondary students at 10 schools, starting in the new year.

Roughly 2,000 students will start using Compass Cards on February 1, 2015. Cards will be distributed to another 2,000 students shortly thereafter. The remaining 141,000 post-secondary students will then be transitioned to Compass and, by the end of the summer, all post-secondary students will be tapping in and out of the system.

Don’t worry, we’ll give students lots of notice, so that they’ll know well in advance how and when to pick up Compass Cards.

For now, it’s business as usual for all post-secondary students! You will continue to pick up your paper ticket each month from your school’s dispensing machines or student centre. Remember to sign the back and keep your student ID with you at all times.

Which post-secondary institutions are participating in the program?

Participating institutions include the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University, Langara College, Emily Carr University of Art & Design, Vancouver Community College, Douglas College, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, British Columbia Institute of Technology, and Nicola Valley Institute of Technology.

How will students get Compass Cards?

Over the next few months, we’ll work with individual post-secondary institutions to determine the best way to get Compass Cards to students. Once the plan is set, it will be communicated broadly, so that everyone is in the know.

In the meantime, if students have questions, they should speak to their post-secondary institutions.

No more line ups!

Compass Cards will replace the current post-secondary paper-ticket pass system, which means students can say good bye to long line ups! Once students have Compass Cards and their eligibility is confirmed, they can link their transit pass to their Compass Card each month online. Then they can start tapping!

One of the reasons students will be able to load their transit passes online each month is because of an innovative system created by TransLink. Compass Point Gateway is s secure, private network developed by our staff. It enables TransLink to deliver program benefits to Compass Cards for clients. Compass Point Gateway is one of the keys to success in transitioning students and other paper-pass holders to Compass Card.

If a Compass Card is lost, students can replace it by unlinking their transit pass from the lost card and linking it to a new Compass Card in order to resume travel for a given month.

Going slow, getting it right

We’re continuing with a phased approach to the launch of Compass. A phased approach is how other major transit systems have been successful, and it’s the best way to ensure we get it right for our customers.

The Opal Card in greater Sydney, Australia and CharlieCard in Boston both took a phased approach to launch. Opal was rolled out to customers starting in December 2012 on its ferry services before moving to trains and buses by the end of 2014 and light rail in 2015. The CharlieCard was launched for seniors, riders with disabilities, and reduced- and free-fare customers in mid-2006. Roll out to the general public did not begin until December 2006 and January 2007.

Winnipeg and Calgary are both currently working on implementing their own electronic-fare-card systems and are taking their time to get it right. Full implementation on Winnipeg Transit was anticipated to be complete by the end of 2013, but introduction has been pushed back to spring 2015 due to technical glitches and issues. Calgary’s CONNECT was scheduled to be completed and released by late 2014, but cards were just distributed to Calgary Transit staff in September 2014 to begin testing.

Why launch to post-secondary students next?

Because the schools are ready!

We have been working with the 10 post-secondary institutions since 2012 to prepare software and systems for the transition to Compass.  TransLink and each of the post-secondary institutions have developed and implemented systems to facilitate the delivery of Compass benefits to student’s Compass cards.

Adding students to the Compass system will offer insight into how the system performs under heavier loads. Since the 10 participating post-secondary institutions include transit fees in their tuition, and provide for all-zone travel, students cannot be over-charged if they receive a tap error.

What’s next after the launch to post-secondary students?

Once we’re satisfied with the performance of the Compass system and our mobile validators, we will move ahead with the transition to Compass.

In the meantime…

For students, until you hear differently, continue to use your paper tickets. We won’t begin distributing Compass Cards to students until January 2015. They’ll be distributed to students in three waves, beginning with small groups at the start.

For everyone else, the launch of Compass to post-secondary students won’t affect you. Customers who pay their fare using a Monthly Pass, FareSaver tickets, cash, and other forms of fare media can continue to do so until we move to the next phase of the roll-out. We will give our customers plenty of notice when they are next to transition to the Compass Card!

Current Compass Card users can continue to “tap in” and “tap out” on the system like they have to date.

Are you a post-secondary student at one of the institutions listed above? Are you ready to tap away?! Let us know in the comments section below! Got questions about Compass? Ask away at



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