Wednesday, 23 Sep 2020

TransLink testing Compass wristbands to tap and pay

Transit users in Metro Vancouver are used to tapping in and out with their Compass cards – ever since the open gate policy at Canada Line and SkyTrain stations was permanently closed in July 2016.

But soon there may be a more casual way for riders to tap and pay their way through the fare gates – Compass wristbands.

TransLink spokesperson Jill Drews confirms the public transit service is “testing Compass wristbands as a potential alternative form of payment.” The wristbands would work the same way Compass cards do with customers using them to tap in and out at fare gates.

The small testing group is staff-only but an Instragram photo of an employee wearing the wristband for hands free entry and exit has already been shared on social media.

SkyTrain riders Global News spoke with were split on whether they’d wear a wristband instead of using a Compass card.

“It’s really good because most of the time I lose my compass card,” said one male user.

“I’ll be more comfortable with it, right, cause like, this is my fourth compass card in like, two months,” added another male user.

Others told Global News the Compass card is convenient enough.

“It’s just as easy for me to have a compass card in my wallet, “ said one male user.

“I wouldn’t really like to have anything on my wrist personally, “ one woman said.

TransLink is not the first to test the wearable technology. Brazil launched RioCard contactless transport wristbands for visitors ahead of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

With radio frequency identification (RFID) rolling out modified Compass cards that emit signals for Metro Vancouver riders with limited mobility, disability advocates say wristbands would be another step towards a universally accessible transit system.

“There’s many people who have dexterity and mobility issues who may have difficulty grasping or retrieving a compass card from a wallet,” said Sam Turcott, the executive director of Disability Alliance BC.

“Being able to wear a bracelet is going to make it a lot easier.”

TransLink says it is “always looking for new ways to improve customer experience” and hopes to share more on wristbands in the coming months.

One rider is already planning to wear it as a fashion accessory.

“I would wear it with a suit,” he quipped.

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