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Translink's Broken Compass System Points Towards Government Waste

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  As the information about Translink's new Compass fare system trickles out, transit riders have been outraged by a series of mean-spirited cuts to programs that have made transit more affordable and increased ridership. There have been severe service reductions made to pay for the faregates; and now "technical limitations" will mean that up to 6000 people a day (by Translink's own rosy estimates) will be ripped off by being charged twice to use the system should they need to pay a cash fare on a city bus. 

  It's easy to think that the Compass card and faregates are a way of introducing sneaky fee increases, as Translink's stated motivations for the cards and faregates seems to fall pretty flat. The Compass faregates are more expensive than the costs of fare evasion, the massive program cuts and service reductions have been a PR Disaster, and it's clear that the fare system is essentially incompatible with the technology that was installed a scant 13 or so years ago at considerable expense. The implementation could not possibly more amateurish and doesn't seem to be in anyone's interests. Translink stands by a tired, poor-bashing talking point that the faregates will make transit "safer" by keeping all those smelly poors off your public transit. Everything seems to point to a simple cash grab. This is true, to a point. 

 It appears, however, that although there is a cash grab at work from this point onward, this is a recoup operation. They're scorching the earth to pay for this debacle, and it appears that Translink did not seem to actually want the faregates (the source of all these troubles and expenses) to begin with.

TransLink CEO Tom Prendergast acknowledged in the authority’s press release that a Smart Card system that collects ridership and service figures “can be done independently of fare gates”.

 Translink acknowledged the expense and lack of benefit in previous reports where the idea was brought up and quickly dismissed out of hand, even by the notoriously ruthless George Puil. It was only at the demand of Kevin Falcon that the project really started to have legs. The Province ponied up 60% of the initial capital funding, the remaining 40% was forced upon Translink, which was already struggling to pay for a backlog of capital projects. It's tempting to blame Translink given their fits of bad behavior, secretive board and extravagant executive pay, but there are far uglier hands in this particular cookie jar.

BC Liberal Hands.

 Say hello to Ken Dobell. You may remember him from such roles as "Gordon Campbell's Deputy Premier" and "Pleading Guilty to Influence Peddling". As with most of his ilk, after his political career ended, he went to work as all good neoliberals do as a lobbyist. Mr. Dobell set up shop with Cubic Corporation. Those of you who have been reading about the Compass system might be familiar with them. They are of course the ones who build faregates, those same faregates that the BC Liberals so capriciously foisted upon Translink and the public.

 The heavy implication is that Translink saw that the expense of the faregates would exceed the losses of fare evasion while inconveniencing riders and create technical nightmares with the existing system. It was clear to all parties actually interested in running a transportation system that the faregates would serve absolutely no public interest, but the Province stepped in and demanded them in a plan that had a lot more to do with political deals and corporate handouts than it ever had to do with transit safety and efficiency. 

So, thousands of riders ripped off, traffic chaos in the downtown core, and taking transit is less affordable as it has ever been. Want to thank someone? Thank the Liberals for this generous piece of Corporate Welfare at the expense of the public.

Fast Ferries What Now?


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This must be implemented

This must be implemented accordingly, and should've given a proper notice to the company before doing it. Hopefully they'll continue to improve this issue. Keep updating!

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