The Translink news reported by 24h [1] and already discussed by Stephen Rees:

People buying cash fare on bus, will not be able to transfer on the “gated” system, that is the skytrain, but also the Seabus

That is presented as a new tariff rule by Translink.

The scofflaw

Translink can’t change the short term fare at will, but need approval of the competent authorities, as stated by the law. Translink is governed by the South Coast British Columbia Transportation authority act. The act stipulates that when a fare increase (greater than 2% annually) or a first-time short term fare is contemplated, it requires that Translink

  • prepares a supplemntal plan to be approved by the council of Mayors (section 200)
  • And gets an approval by the Translink commissioner (section 203)

The Translink proposal is in essence a “first-time short term fare” for people buying cash fare on bus and transferring on train or bus (pretty much like people buying a cash fare at YVR pay a $5 “first-time short term fare”).

Unless Translink gets approval of the council of Mayor and Translink commissioner, it has no legal right to deny entry to the Skytrain and Seabus to holder of cash fare purchased on bus.

Doing so, by erecting a faregate, not working with those cashfare, is putting Translink in the feet of the scofflaw.

Obviously, like any scofflaws, it will have many excuses:

The Rubbish

  • “To convert all the bus fareboxes to issue passes that would access the fare gates would cost about $25 million”
  • The argument is so dump that it is borderline insulting

    No need to do that, what is just needed is a way to use the cash fare issued onboard a bus on the skytrain system. By own Translink’s number, a compass ticket machine (to put on bus) cost ~$15,000 [3]. have such machine just converting a magnetic cash fare to a Compass ticket can’t cost more (a magnetic strip reader is much cheaper than a machine sorting out coins). Installing one at each of the ~50 Skytrain stations, could cost less than $1 million. Probably much less, since what is just needed is to modify an already existing magnetic reader to allow it to read the cash fare (like the parking machine at the Vancouver airport does) or add an extra one, on an already existing Ticket vending machine.

  • “We are not unique in our approach. Many other transit systems around the world, including London and Paris, also don’t allow cash bus to rail transfers.”
  • That is again rubbish.

    • Both Paris and London faregates accept magnetic tickets
    • In Both Paris and London, the non transferable bus ticket was a policy preexisting the introduction of the smart card. At least in Paris, the Media used to issue onboard ticket is the same than the one used to issue off-board ones: the faregates are able to process magnetic ticket purchased onboard, read the information on it, and decide to open or not the door accordingly: It is a fare policy choice, not a technical limitation
  • “It is only customers who purchase fares on buses with cash who will not be able to use those transfers to transfer to rail—approximately 6,000 customers per day out of our 1.2 million daily rides”
  • How credible is this 6,000 figure? That doesn’t match at all my casual observation on the bus system (cash fare payment is indeed fairly frequent, may be 10% of the rider pay in cash), and it doesn’t match the translink latest annual report[2] either!

    • cash fare generates ~$100Million of revenue (that is 25% of fare revenue, so it is not marginal at all!) and you need to issue ~120,000 cash fare users per day to generate such a revenue stream…

    Even assuming that the majority of them are bought at TVM, we have all the reasons to believe that 60,000 is a much more plausible figure than this rubbish 6,000 one!

    The fact

    Translink clearly made a mistake in the implementation of its smartcard system, and instead to recognize it, try to explain it by lame excuses and deceiving tactics.

    Let’s hope the council of Mayor will respond appropriately to that, and deny the right to Translink to ban access to skytrain for holder of cash ticket purchased on bus, because it will,

    • Reaffirms its authority, hence confidence by the public that Tranlink, as a organization financed by taxpayer moeny is controlled by elected official, not bureaucrat
    • Affirms that what is at stake, is not a mere tariff change, but the aim and objective of Translink as a public service (accessible cash fare is an important aspect of that), what is the job of the politics, not of the bureaucrats

    If Translink doesn’t find a satisfying solution to accommodate the holder of cash ticket purchased on bus, it will have to leave the faregate doors open: that is simple and that is certainly the cheapest way!

    If Translink proceed against the law, it will be then time to launch a class action lawsuit on behalf of the cash fare holders.

    In the meantime, to prevent such eventuality, there is this online petition


    Edit

    The Translink board of directors has enacted a bylaw on July 24th, 2013, to enforce the new proposed tariff.

  • Does it means it has the legal right to do so?
  • The SCBCTA allows the board of directors to change short term fare only under specific circumstances, and this to meet debt obligation (section 223.11).

    It is unclear how the board of directors can justify that the introduction of the Compass card, planned for years, meet the requirements to invoke such an extraordinary clause, allowing the board to by-pass the elected officials. there is strong indication that the board of directors has acted beyond its legal right.


    [1] SkyTrain won’t take bus transfers with new Compass Card system, Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver, Wednesday, August 14, 2013

    [2] Translink Statutory Annual Report, 2012

    [3] the $15,000 figure is inferred from the cost to outfilt all bus with a compass ticket vending machine, $25 Million, divided by the number of bus to outfit, ~1700. Typically a Ticket vending machine cost $50,0000 per unit.