British Columbia

TransLink service disruptions coincide with Compass Card rollout

TransLink was asking riders to be patient Monday as many transit users reported long waits getting and activating the new Compass Cards to replace old monthly passes.

TransLink says the majority of monthly users went online this weekend

The lineup at the Compass Card Service Centre outside Stadium-Chinatown station extended to the curb around 2:45 p.m. on Monday. (Wanyee Li/CBC)

TransLink was asking riders to be patient Monday as many transit users reported long waits getting and activating the new Compass Cards to replace old monthly passes.

The transit authority said the vast majority of 100,000 monthly Compass card users went online this weekend, which resulted in longer than normal delays. 

On Monday, TransLink was working with the contractor to fix problems with the roll-out, but said riders could still expect to wait for up to two hours until the money actually shows up on their cards.

"The last few days have been the biggest challenge of our system so far ... It's been a very busy time," said Lloyd Bauer, the Compass Card project's vice president.

However, if riders load up at a station kiosk the amount should be instantly updated, he said.

People had to line up Monday to get their cards. The lineup at the Compass card kiosk at the Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain station was all the way to the curb at 2:45 p.m. PT.

TransLink is also reminding riders that the paper FareSavers cards have not expired and continue to be accepted on the bus, SkyTrain, SeaBus and HandyDART but are slowly being phased out. It says it won't be selling them after supplies run out likely at the end of the month.

Customers are encouraged to use up their FareSavers and then switch to the Compass Card, TransLink said.

Shutdowns on service

Riders' frustration with the Compass Card roll-out coincided with service disruptions on the Canada, Expo and Millennium lines Monday — the first regular day of work in 2016. 

An icy track on the Canada Line forced TransLink to shutdown service between Bridgeport and Marine Drive stations for a short while on Monday morning.

TransLink reported the Expo and Millennium lines were also experiencing temporary delays due to an earlier door issue on one of the trains at Stadium Station, but the service was still running.

The breakdowns come on the first regular work day after the Compass Card replaced paper monthly passes.

Canada Line passengers wait for a train at City Centre Station, during delays this morning.

Switch creates barrier for homeless people

Meanwhile advocates for homeless people in the Lower Mainland say the switch to the Compass Card spells trouble for those who already struggle to pay transit fares. They fear the added requirement of a $6 deposit will make access to transit even harder for some.

"We know that transit is key to exiting homelessness, key to helping people attend appointments, medical appointments, appointments with workers, it's a significant tool for people to utilize to function," said Wanda Mulholland, community development coordinator for the Burnaby Task Force on Homelessness.

Compass Cards can be bought online at vending machines and 18 London Drugs stores for a $6 deposit. (Lisa Johnson/CBC)

Whereas Translink says the Compass Card will create convenience for transit users, Mulholland says the same system poses problems for people who live on the streets. 

"When you think of people that are in outlying areas, large geographic areas where services are spread very far, and you look at people who are in Burnaby looking to access shelter in Vancouver ... people without identification trying to access the system that requires access to Internet and ability to pay deposits to function — at every turn, people are facing obstacles in terms of transit."

With files from The Early Edition