British Columbia

TransLink fare gates closure looms

The next big step in the Compass card roll-out happens on Monday when gates at SkyTrain and Seabus stations will begin closing and all users will need a Compass card to get in.

Many commuters rush to trade in FareSavers as Monday April 4 deadline approaches

Since January, 2016, line-ups at the Compass Customer Service Centre have been a problem for some trying to exchange old tickets for the new system. Fare gates will begin closing for good on April 4. (Wanyee Li/CBC)

The next big step in the Compass card roll-out happens on Monday when fare gates at SkyTrain and Seabus stations will begin closing and all users will need a Compass card to enter.

The lead up to the big change has meant long lines at TransLink's customer service centre at the Stadium Station as many transit riders are exchanging old types of tickets — such as FareSavers — for the new card, which riders use to tap in and out of the system.

"We're averaging about a million taps a day on our system but as well as what we're seeing today is monitoring very closely the FareSavers that are coming in," said TransLink CFO Cathy McLay. "So they're coming back into our customer service centre, so we saw this huge ramp up and now it's flattening." 

McLay says the adoption of the new card has been faster than expected. She says the authority has added extra staff to manage line-ups until the fare gate close on April 4.

Still, the customer service centre at Stadium station is the only place where commuters can exchange tickets and waits this week have been 45 minutes on average, said McLay.

"Staff worked overtime to get it down, and now we're finding that it's flat, but we're watching quite closely on that."

Any rider who has FareSavers or other older tickets can continue to trade them in even after the closure.

TransLink says more than 700,000 Compass cards are now active throughout the system.

TransLink officials say all fare gates will be closed by April 8 — explaining that every rider will thus need to have paid, making the system more fair.

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