Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Archive for August 25th, 2009

Vancouver commuters can’t buy a ticket to ride new Canada Line

with 12 comments

UPDATED: Here is the new video from Translink – showing how to do it.

SUBSEQUENT UPDATE – September 7, 2009 18:20

The video has now been removed by Translink. I have no idea why


Also has a representative from the supplier – Cubic – present.

The post below has now been changed from what was originally posted

Kelly Sinoski of the Vancouver Sun demonstrates that it is on fact possible to buy a ticket on the Canada Line with a debit card. It takes her two goes, and even on the “successful” run, it seems to have trouble accepting her PIN number. There is video, but the print story seems more representative of the daily reality. Regular users now carry cash.

This, of course, has been a story since Day 2, which is when I first encountered the issue myself. Translink has not covered itself in glory over the way it has handled the story. Blaming the users is of course the easiest thing to do, but it does not buy you any friends. It also seems true, given the continuing volume of complaints, that perhaps the instructions on the machine are not exactly specific enough. There was no mention on the machine of what the yellow light means or “wait for the click”. The machine did say on its own screen “wait for instructions” but there were none and apparently leaving the card in while you wait for them sends the machine to default “invalid card” mode.

After all, we all dip our cards into ATM machines all the time. There the machine retains the card during the transaction, so perhaps opting for the “swipe on the way out” technique was a bit contrary. But we also swipe our cards at various point of sale systems – and I have even managed to use my chip enabled VISA card in one or two places. Something they have been doing in Europe for years.   That is why these machines were bought – though it is not actually reading chips yet. It is still reading the magnetic stripe. Or rather, not reading the stripe. Translink has changed its tune a bit, and now says that new instructions will be available. Next week apparently. So perhaps their original claim that users were not reading the instructions was wrong. I cannot understand how they expected anyone to read instructions which do not appear.

What seems to be missing completely before the release of the Translink video was any mention of where the machines come from, or any comment from the supplier.  Cubic supplied the machines.

Note too that nowhere on the machine was there any message about the lights – and nothing came up on the screen either. Also missing now is any mention of the “wait for the click” that InTransitBC staff were telling people at the machines.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 25, 2009 at 9:45 am

Posted in transit

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