Sunday, September 29, 2013

Observations (& confessions) of a - #CompassBetaTester

I have been an active user of my compass test card over the past 3 weeks and look forward to the official roll-out.  I must admit, however, that I did miss some taps, usually on crowded buses when exiting, and mainly when I was on an unfamiliar route.

Some Observations:

1 - It would be nice to have a hole in the card so I can place it on my key ring (which is where my Yearly Pass (which came with a hole) currently resides.  Considering the cards have passed their "test" and are no longer "virgins", it is time for them to be de-flowered - and grow-up !

2 - It would be nice if the colour of the Green box changed (possibly to a blue or white screen), especially on the buses, indicating all is well and displaying the "Proceed", as it would be quicker to read rather than it staying green.  I understand the red colour should still be reserved for error messages.

3 - I was happy to test the Faregates as well, which are similar to other gate systems I have used.  I believe the gates (at least in the beginning) will help people remember to use their compass card, but beyond that they will tend to slow people down.  As a matter of fact, just seeing other people use their compass card will serve to remind others to use theirs, and once people are used to it, the task will be second nature like it is elsewhere.

Now that I have used the Faregates I can confirm my opinion of them regarding how effective I think they will be in preventing fare evasion.  Fare evasion is currently estimated to be only about 5% of total ridership and is mainly carried out by poor people or drug addicts, who simply do not have the money to pay for fares.

Like similar gate systems I have used elsewhere the gates are easy to defeat, and will only be cumbersome for paying users, not evaders. The cost of the gates and their on-going maintenance will not reduce fare-evasion sufficiently to justify their cost.  This otherwise wasted money should be used for other things.  The problem of Poverty and Crime can not be solved through the use of metal bars.

Former CEO of TransLink, old teddy bear Tom Prendergast even stated before the decision was made on Faregates that Faregates themselves were not necessary and that the smartcards could work without them.  People should have listened to him.

A better and more effective option to reduce fare-evasion would be to give rewards to people for using their compass smartcard... To be fair to all users, it could work on a random basis so that every time a person used their card they would have a chance to win something (free fare, wellness credits, translink dollars, etc.).

Poor people and Drug addicts could be rewarded by being enrolled in programs to help turn their lives around and in this way eliminate these problems once and for all, rather than making them worse though wasting money on hospital visits and jails.  Avoiding problems needs to be just as important as solving them.  This is not about compassion, its about common sense and promoting healthy lifestyles.

The first step to "Building Utopia" is wanting it, the next step is to reward those who help create it.

To the Journey !

Best regards,