Vancouver Transit Accepts Contactless Credit Card Payments

Posted June 2, 2018 by cccadmin in

Vancouver is one step closer to modernizing its public transit system. To paraphrase U.S. astronaut Neil Armstrong when he first landed on the moon, this is one small step for Vancouver transit riders and one giant leap for transit riders across Canada. Vancouver transit announced earlier this year that its Compass system would start accepting credit cards and smartphone payment.

TransLink Contactless Payment Options

As of May 22, contactless credit cards are accepted on the Vancouver public transit system (TransLink). Transit riders will now be able to tap their contactless Mastercard or Visa credit card on the fare gate and fare readers at SkyTrain stations and on buses. That’s not the only new payment method being accepted. Popular smartphone mobile wallets, including Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay, will now be accepted, as well.

The acceptance of Tap-to-Pay is good news for Vancouver transit riders. It means no more long line ups for tickets, digging for exact change or everyone’s favourite, worrying about trying to figure out Vancouver’s complex transit fare zones. It also makes it more convenient for transit riders who don’t have a Compass Card, such as tourists and those who rarely use public transit.

“Tap to Pay is all about customer convenience,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond. “Compass is great for regular riders and this initiative leverages its greater potential by adding more convenient payment options for infrequent users and travellers.”

Of course with any new payment system, there’s going to be a learning curve. To help flatten the learning curve, TransLink is continuing with its card-cash marketing campaign, reminding transit riders to only tap the card that they want charged once, not your wallet or phone case with multiple cards inside. This is to help ensure the correct card is charged.

If for whatever reason you were to present more than one card, the system is supposed to be smart enough to only accept the first card it reads. This may or may not be the one you intended if you’re presenting multiple cards, but you’ve been warned.

Is Vancouver Doing Away with the Compass Card?

In a short answer, nope. You’ll still need a Compass Card if you have a daily or monthly pass. That’s because credit card and smartphone payments are only for single trips. And similar to the current cash payment fare structure, you will not get the discount offered when using a stored value from your Compass Card. For example, the stored value of a one-zone fare on your Compass Card is $2.20, while the equivalent cash payment is $2.85.

So, ideally, if you’re a regular transit rider, you’re still relying on your Compass Card, although it’s nice to have another option for tourists or if you forget your Compass Card at home (we all have those days).

The Bottom Line

Vancouver transit is a lot further ahead in payment processing than the Toronto transit system. (The Toronto transit system has halted its roll out of Presto after running into reliability issues.)

Visa Canada did a lot of testing to ensure the rollout of contactless credit card payment goes flawlessly in Vancouver. If it’s a major success, it will be interesting to see how long it takes other mass transit systems in Canada to rollout a similar payment option.