TransLink's new Compass Card system, originally expected to be operational by the fall of 2013, won't be ready until sometime next year, but TransLink says that does not mean the rollout has been delayed.
"We want to make sure our customers are comfortable using it. It could be anytime in 2014, but it's going to be in 2014," said TransLink spokeswoman Jiana Ling.
"We'll have a transition period where both ... the bus pass and the Compass Card can be used at the same time. When we feel our customers will be ready, we will roll it out in 2014."
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Signs posted on SkyTrain fare gates and a statement on the TransLink website clearly state the card is coming this fall.
"When Compass arrives in late 2013, the easy-to-use card will replace all our current passes and tickets, including West Coast Express products," says the TransLink website.
But TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel insists that the plan has always been to roll out the smart card system in stages.
"We've been saying all along that we want to have an extended transition period for customers, to make sure people are understanding how they're going to use this system," said Zabel.
Zabel says over the next few weeks, 10,000 people will be testing the system to make sure everything is working properly when the card is rolled out next year.
"So we'll roll right back into that transition period later in the fall and then we'll continue that transition period into 2014 and we're not going to close those gates until people understand how to use it."
Riders frustrated by delays
Meanwhile the delay of the Compass Card system, which will eventually replace paper transit passes with smart cards, has frustrated some transit users.
"I thought it’s been a bit weird on how long they’ve taken to roll it out," said commuter James Nicholson.
But BCIT student Alex Gaio says he’s excited about the new system.
Gaio has been selected as one of 10,000 commuters who will have the chance to try out the Compass Card on transit this month. Although the faregates at SkyTrain stations are not yet operational, card readers have been installed on buses.
"All the infrastructure is there so I can tap in and out," said Gaio. "I really like how easy it is so you don't have to fumble with change."