10/16/2013 02:26 EDT

Compass Card Loophole Permits Fare Cheating


TransLink is rolling out the Compass Card to root out fare evasion, but beta testers have already found a way to cheat the system.

The Compass Card works by having transit users swipe at train stations and at entry points on buses, then swipe out when they leave the system. When you swipe in, you're automatically charged a three-zone fare, then you receive a credit on your card when you swipe out in one or two zones.

But tests have uncovered a loophole: you can tap out of the system before you leave a zone, paying the lower fare while continuing to travel through further zones, CBC News reported

TransLink vice-president Mike Madill admitted that no system is perfect, but he said anyone caught exposing the loophole will still face a hefty fine.

"If somebody does what you are suggesting, they are in a Fare Paid Zone and they won't have a valid fare, and so they will be subject to a fine, in the event they are inspected, for $173," he told the network.

That fine increases to $213 if it goes unpaid for six months, and $273 after a year.

TransLink is also ramping up enforcement of fare evasion by providing ICBC access to the unpaid fare database so that the company will be able to refuse licences or insurance, Madill told News1130.

The Compass Card beta test wrapped up on Oct. 1 after recruiting over 10,000 volunteers.

The cost of implementing the Compass Card was initially $171 million but that figure has jumped to $194.2 million, 24 Hours Vancouver reported. That overrun, according to TransLink, stemmed from a delayed system launch and an assumption that a project partner would pick up more costs.

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