TransLink has announced the introduction of preloaded Compass cards, which will allow transit riders to travel immediately without needing to register the cards or load stored value.
The cards are for sale at most "FareDealer" convenience stores and come preloaded with $10 of stored value. Customers can choose from adult or concession cards and pay $10 plus a $6 deposit.
TransLink spokeswoman Jennifer Morland announced the new preloaded cards Wednesday, while reminding riders using monthly passes to load their February pass onto their existing Compass cards now.
"Plan ahead. If you know you're going to be travelling with a February monthly pass, load it up early so you're ready to travel when you need to," she said.
Monthly pass users can load the next month's pass onto their card by phone or online at compasscard.ca from the 16th of every month. From the 20th of every month, riders can also load their pass at Compass vending machines.
Morland also reminded all riders they have the option of registering the card online and setting up automatic top-ups for stored value or monthly pass renewals.
"Set it and forget it," said Morland.
Registering also protects your balance if your card is lost or stolen.
Hundreds of thousands of cards activated
Transit users began loading their monthly passes onto their Compass cards on Jan. 1, as paper passes are phased out, but the process created a headache for many customers whose cards and passes didn't work.
Along with the cards not recognizing uploads in a two-hour time period, TransLink call centres were also been clogged with phone calls from customers.
Despite this, Morland says some 135,000 customers loaded January monthly passes onto their Compass cards — taking TransLink by surprise.
"That's actually more than we thought," she said.
"Usually we see sales of 130,000 with the old paper passes and we were expecting we'd have a little bit less than that with some customers choosing stored value over monthly passes."
January was in fact their busiest month, she said, with 90,000 new Compass cards activated in one week alone.
Overall, says Morland, 500,000 Compass cards have been activated since TransLink's phased in roll out began early last year, with 250,000 Compass cards now being tapped in and out every day.
Remembering to tap out when using rail or SeaBus has proven an issue for some riders, but Morland says that is improving.
"Back in November we had around 70 per cent of our customers tapping out. Now we're seeing 90 per cent of our customers tapping out.
"More and more people are remembering to tap out and that's important to make sure people are charged the correct fare."