It looks like at least one newspaper editor in the Lower Mainland is not doing his or her research. In particular, the South Delta Leader baffled me last month with an editorial claiming that the Compass Card fare system is a blunder, and that it will cost TransLink.
TransLink estimates that fare evasion costs the local transit authority $7 million annually. If that’s the case, it will take TransLink close to 25 years just to break even on the Compass Card program, given the $170 million it has spent.
An even more baffling letter appeared in today’s issue of the Surrey Leader newspaper.
…The above figure assumes that there is no cost for money, which is unrealistic. The money invested in the project is undoubtedly borrowed by the different levels of government. Assuming a four per cent interest rate, the discounted payback period is nearly 91 years, a relatively long time to recover the cost of installing the new fare gates.
I think that this is a key misinterpretation that people are making when Compass is involved.
Adopting a smart card system had been planned for years before the SkyTrain faregates. No thanks to the likes of former B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and the media’s push on the faregates as being a tool to reduce fare evasion, I’m not surprised that many people still believe that the sole reason for the installation of faregates has to do with that. However, there are plenty of other benefits to the faregates and Compass – they just haven’t been publicized as much.
For example, the trip tracking that will be made possible with Compass Cards allows TransLink to work from solid data for the first time when optimizing bus services. No more guesswork. This generates benefits because bus service is better allocated to bring more reliable service to customers, which can increase ridership while lowering costs.
Shorter payment times will also significantly improve reliability on buses, as I explored in my earlier write-up on the matter: [CLICK HERE]
As early as 2010, there were editorials written slamming TransLink for “not having a business case” for installing faregates and Compass. But, a business case was indeed developed, all the way back in 2009. You can view it by searching the document library on TransLink’s website or at this link: [CLICK HERE]
Also, with $70 million of the funding for the Compass and Faregates system coming from senior levels of government, a business case would be a requirement for the project to have gone forward at all.
With no business case or a poor business case, this project would not exist. It would have never gone through the TransLink scrutiny and auditing imposed by the same provincial government that wanted to make this system a reality.
Information is fully sourced, and links to sources are added where accuracy may be unclear to readers.
1. This affects every rider who transfers from bus-to-SkyTrain.
False. The limitation affects only riders who pay by cash when obtaining a traditional bus ticket. The TransLink media statement on this issue states that an estimated 6000 riders presently arrange to pay cash when obtaining a bus ticket and use that ticket on the SkyTrain. Other riders use FareSavers or monthly passes (or will use the Compass Card in the future).
2. The lack of bus-to-SkyTrain transfers will always double fees for the estimated 6,000 daily riders affected.
The ‘6000’ number on TransLink’s media statement describes the estimated number of riders who PRESENTLY arrange to pay bus fare by cash fare and then use that ticket transfer onto SkyTrain. This does not mean that there will be 6,000 riders paying double transit fees, or that TransLink stands to gain about $6 million in extra revenue a year as a result as some have said.
No matter whether the number is 6,000 or not, It is likely that many of these people will approach the solution that TransLink has given:
TransLink has stated constantly, including in their official media release, that this only applies for those who pay cash for a traditional bus ticket and then want to ride the SkyTrain. This does not apply to those who have obtained a Compass Card – which the majority of the region is expected to use – to pay fares. Those who use the Compass Card can transfer without double fees, and will also get discounts if they “store value” onto the card (i.e. load money onto the card before boarding transit).
A Compass Card can be obtained for a one-time $6 deposit at many locations, including on-the-spot at Compass vending machines around the metro. This $6 deposit is repaid over time, as fares paid by stored money on the Compass Card are discounted over usual cash fares.
3. Low-income and homeless will be affected by this decision.
Low-income and homeless people who may have trouble obtaining and making regular use of the fare-card transit system would certainly be affected by this if nothing else is changed, as the Compass card does require some level of computer access for those not near a Compass vending machine and also may involve bank transaction fees.
However, there have been proposals to address transit issues for the homeless and low income. TransLink spokespersons have previously (before this issue came up) stated to the media that they are aware of how the introduction of Compass affects low-income individuals, and are working on strategies to address this (The Globe and Mail)
4. This will affect how tourists use the Metro Vancouver transit system.
Commenters have expressed concern about how this affects tourist use of the Metro Vancouver transit system, because it is alleged that tourists would pay more due to the transfers and may be discouraged from using the system.
However, tourists will be able to obtain compass cards or tickets for their use during their stay. This is stated in the Compass Card F.A.Q.: Compass cards or tickets are vended at the 420 new ticket vending machines located at stations and strategic points around the system, including the YVR-Airport Canada Line SkyTrain Station (as with all SkyTrain stations) and at BC Ferries Terminals. These vending machines vend compass cards for adults only, but do vend compass tickets for both adults and children (concession fare) which can be used as day passes.
Websites and resources on Vancouver tourism are likely to update themselves to contain info on how to obtain and use a Compass Card, in the same way as they provide information to a tourist in Tokyo, Japan for obtaining and using a “Suica” or “PASMO” card.
5. The compass card system offers absolutely no flexibility for students and others who have no credit card or online payment methods
Some commenters have been worried that students and those who have no credit card (therefore cannot use Compass) will be restricted to double fees for bus -> SkyTrain trips as a result of this. This is the result of a misinterpretation of how money is spent via Compass. Compass cards have a number of payment options: loading and reloading Compass Cards at:
1 of 420 Compass vending machines (cash, debit, credit)
Walk-in centres at Stadium/Chinatown Station, the Metrotown FareDealer office or at the downtown West Coast Express office
Students who do not have a credit card can still use Compass and pay by cash at a Compasss vending machine, if a payment arrangement through a parent or guardian is not possible. Since payment is by preload, a student can arrange to pre-load a significant amount of cash (amounting to single fares, day passes or monthly passes) initially for future use at any time later, and not have to come back to a TVM constantly. Other payment options will not be restricted to credit.
6. The tracking feature of Compass Cards could compromise your personal security.
Some commenters who wish to opt-out of the Compass Card program for reasons of the fact that each card is being tracked by TransLink during use do have reasons to be concerned by the reality of double fees for transfers. However, TransLink has explained on their F.A.Q. page that they cannot track any particular individuals, as no personal information is encoded onto the card. The electronic chip on a compass card carries only a unique card number and the fare product or value stored onto the card. Therefore, it is not possible to compromise your personal security. In other words, you’re anonymous and so is everyone else.
7. This is another TransLink “cash grab”
This was addressed above. The allegations that this is another TransLink “cash grab” move came from the number crunching that lead many to believe that TransLink stands to gain about $6 to $10.5 million in extra revenue per year as a result of double fees (This calculation comes from how much each of the 6,000 daily riders who pay cash fare on the bus and then transfer to SkyTrain pay a year) However, as it was stated, the ‘6000’ number describes the estimated number of riders who PRESENTLY arrange to pay bus fare by coin and then transfer onto SkyTrain – not the amount of people who WILL end up being inconvenienced.
In fact, if all of the estimated 6,000 people presently arranging to use cash-fare SkyTrain transfers were to obtain Compass Cards (therefore avoiding the double fees), TransLink would LOSE significant fare revenue – as each one of those 6,000 people qualifies for potential 15% discounts if they pre-store their fares on their Compass before use.
8. The Compass system could have been configured to get around this from the very start
A few people have claimed that the Compass system could have been configured to get around this from the very start. One commenter on the Georgia Straight comments:
When they ordered the new gate system, they could have specified to the contractor to provide a reader system that was compatible with the existing reader/writer system. It wouldn’t have cost anymore because the old reader system is already in existence and it would have been simply a matter of interfacing with the new gate system.
Another top commenter on the petition page says:
While I understand that upgrading all the buses to hand out Compass-card compatible tickets is cost-prohibitive, how difficult and expensive could it be to equip *one* gate at each station (preferably the handicap gate) with a reader that can take the existing bus transfers?
However, these would come with complications and costs of their own.
Compass equipment is expected to completely replace older equipment in time. The first suggestion suggests using the old technology with fare-gates. However, that would reduce the cost effectiveness of the entire project, because it removes the benefits that are brought by Compass’s particular technologies. Utilizing fare-gates with the traditional system would not allow for cash to be stored in the cards, saving significant paper waste generated by the existing paper passes as they are not reusable (saving paper waste is a significant value of the Compass project). As well, it would exclude the possibilities with NFC (near-field communication) technology; for example, NFC taps could potentially enable smartphones to tap on and off rather than cards; NFC could allow the cards to be used at vending machines and stores, as is done in Tokyo, Japan; and, most importantly, NFC results in the trip tracking that will be a key benefit to Compass in that the tracking of all transit trips ensures that service changes are based of data rather than speculations for the first time. This represents a significant portion of the value of the Compass system, is not possible through the current technology.
The second suggestion would also incur significant extra costs, for several reasons. For one, equipping only one gate would not be possible as tampering with a single gate would remove the alternate option. Secondly, riders exiting the SkyTrain station cannot “tap out” with a traditional fare ticket in the same manner as all other SkyTrain riders carrying NFC-enabled cards or tickets, leaving another issue to address. It would also create complications at the busiest stations as people scramble to find the correct gate to use, and may need to walk across an oncoming crowd to reach that special gate. From a logistics perspective, it’s not ideal.
Other suggestions have pitted having a separate machine at SkyTrain stations to take old paper transfers and exchange them for a Compass-compatible card. However, that would still have a cost: according to TransLink spokesperson Derek Zebel in a recent article on 24 Hrs, installing machines at SkyTrain stations that would take old paper transfers and exchange them for a Compass-compatible card would have cost at least $9 million.
9. The creator and supporters of this petition have legitimate personal reasons to complain and stand to be actually inconvenienced by this.
If there is anything suggested by the response on the petition page and on Twitter, it’s that the supporters of this petition (and its creator) are just doing this to express hate feelings against TransLink, and do not stand to be actually inconvenienced by this.
Think about it – the people who actually stand to be inconvenienced and have legitimate reasons to complain are the low-income and the homeless, but many of these people may not have access to a computer to readily sign this online petition.
10. Anyone stands to lose money or pay fees from this at all.
If everyone made the proper arrangements such as obtaining a compass card, applying for any low-income assistance programs, or arranging to obtain a compass card upon arrival at the airport or ferries as a tourist, no one would pay double transit fees at all. That’s right. No one.
I must state how much I admire TransLink for being able to stand through this without losing control of anyone within its organization, because it seems a lot of people aren’t willing to listen or read up first.
I would like to thank Laila Yuile for assisting me (sort of) in the creation of this. We had a debate on Twitter on the matters that applied to this issue, which gave me incentive to find the information needed to address concerns and, eventually, put this together.
I recommend people who have finished reading to also read two viewpoint articles I have released on this issue:
I did a double-faceplant earlier today in disappointment when I witnessed a number of online, radio and TV news articles pointing fingers at TransLink for not ensuring cash-fare bus to SkyTrain transfers on the new Compass and faregate system.
It’s not the first time I’ve been upended by media sensationalism, and I have a feeling that it sadly won’t be the last.
As a daily transit rider, and probably like many other daily transit riders, I have a vendetta aimed at those who enter buses and have to pay with coin fare. In fact, numerous times while boarding buses, I have crashed into the person ahead of me as a result of the line stopping to make way for a coin payer. The sad fact about coin payers is that the process of using coins and (usually) making sure every coin is properly counted in the farebox slows everyone down. Coin payers, especially where there are large amounts in one setting, are probably responsible for 90% of the transit delays I have experienced.
(It only gets worse – numerous times, fares are a few cents short and incorrect, which cause delay as either the rider must then take out the extra, missing fare – either that or the driver still needs to take some time to press a button on the console to issue a ticket despite the loss, in order to keep the lineup moving).
I personally welcome the scrapping of cash fare bus-SkyTrain transfers, because it’s going to encourage people to obtain compass cards and abandon paying with coins – which will make the transit system region-wide significantly faster and more reliable for all riders. That’s right – if you live on a well used but rather unreliable bus route, buses will finally come on time for you.
On the 24hrs Vancouver article on this matter, a poll shows that over 6,000 surveyed still use cash to pay for bus rides. That’s the equivalent to up to 6000 less bus transit delay incidents. It’s as simple as obtaining a Compass Card.
The Compass Card system means that almost every rider now makes the better choices (i.e. if you got off at a SkyTrain station and need a new bus fare, you pay at a SkyTrain ticket machine to speed up boarding the bus for everyone) that only some riders make in today’s system to benefit other riders. And then, there are other system-wide benefits from the data collection.
A Compass Card, for just a $6 one-time deposit, will do that and so much more to improve our transit system – and, most importantly, it will continue to give riders the option of transferring from bus to SkyTrain without paying extra fare. TransLink estimates that up to 6,000 riders could be inconvenienced with double fares, but that number could drop significantly if most of those people just bought the darned Compass Cards. <6,000 is certainly not worth a $25 million subsidy from taxpayers to allow the transfers.
I am saddened by the amount of people who are complaining as if the option to not pay extra fare from bus to SkyTrain is gone forever, and just don’t understand.
In this recent advertisement of the Windows Phone OS based Nokia Lumia 920, Nokia and Microsoft showcased to us the reality of the Android vs. iOS scene.
The woman in the ad who said “I think they kind of like fighting” is definitely correct; I know this from personal experience as an Android user and fan that – as you can guess – gets into reckless arguments with iOS users and iPhone fans quite often. Upon seeing this commercial I was delighted at how many of the arguments people are using are quite correct!
Many iPhone users are mad that Android “copies” most of iOS and iPhone features (although that is really only a perception, and based on my research I have put into my Apple Hypocrisy website project it is actually not true) I regularly label iPhone fans as “iSheep” in my mind when I’m in a debate, because many of them chose the iPhone using a limited criteria; usually one that did make features and productivity a top priority.
That “wheeeeeee” before the commotion while the person showcased S-Beam again was just too perfect! All that an Android user needs to showcase the Android advantage of better features and catch the attention (or provoke) an iOS user is to show one in action.
As the ad is probably meant for, some people are going to be tempted to switch to Windows phone (especially those who really hate the arguments between iOS and Android users). For me, this sadly won’t do. Although I really like Windows 8 for desktop and for tablets (though I have an Android tablet now, a Windows 8 tablet in the future – perhaps like this ASUS transformer all-in-one – is something I look at with a keen eye), I’ve already chosen Android for my mobile phone and moving to Windows phone just something I am, sadly for Nokia, not going to do for reasons of inferior productivity and customization on Windows phone, Android-specific apps like Google Now and features like home-screen and lock-screen widgets.
My recommendations for most people looking for smartphones are probably also going to stay Android, but Nokia and Microsoft just earned a huge amount of respect from me for this awesome show of entertainment, and so there will definitely be more Lumia 920s going around in my smartphone talks and recommendations soon.
I think that this new iPhone 5 advertisement is silly.
It doesn’t tell me that there is anything special about the iPhone other than the fact that a lot of people take a lot of photos with it. There’s really no distinguishing factor.
Photos on the go can be done with just about any smartphone on the market with a camera, and there’s really nothing special nor advertisement-worthy about the fact that the iPhone has a camera. In terms of photo quality, the iPhone’s camera isn’t even close to the best. Here’s a comparison between several new flagship smartphones, taken from the website Digital Phtotography Review:
If Apple had any sense in luring in new customers through its advertisements, then the company would be showing us what unique things you can do with the iPhone camera that no other competitor can do.
The problem is that Apple has never really innovated in the camera sector. Many of the features that are present in the iPhone camera now (or will be in the future) are actually taken from competitors that introduced those features. Some of these features include:
With no innovation in the camera sector, it’s obvious that this advertisement isn’t being targeted to potential iPhone users who are choosing between alternatives, or luring Android smartphone users to switch or switch back. No, it is actually being targeted at existing iPhone users.
The question to be brought up is: why is Apple doing this? I suspect that Apple is in a state of desperation, because it is currently in a risky position. It is in a risky position because it is currently at huge risk for losing a lot of iPhone market share to competing smartphone makers are introducing more and better innovations, especially in cameras, like this one showcased in an ad for the LG Optimus G Pro:
(don’t be fooled by the first 30 seconds, watch the whole thing one minute through – you’ll understand it even if it’s in Korean)
Photo sphere is a component of the camera app in Google’s Android version 4.2 Jelly Bean, and – like the other features that were listed above – it’s something that might break a lot of expectations of Apple fans, because the iPhone wasn’t the one to have that feature first.
As more people notice that competitors like Samsung, HTC, Blackberry and others are innovating faster than Apple in the smartphone sector in terms of features and hardware, they’re going to have more reasons (including the standing reasons of better price and other built-in features like Google Now) to opt for buying better smartphones and not iPhone. That’s going to be bad for Apple’s business… not that I care, since I favour anything that’s better for consumers; better products and more money into companies that will offer better products is going to be great for everyone.
“Every day, more photos are taken with the iPhone than any other camera.”
There is only one thing that this advertisement acclaims: the quoted statement above. This is a call-out to existing iPhone users. It’s a reminder that they are part of a global community of iPhone users that takes more photos than any other. I can see how it might make a deciding consumer stop his or her thoughts of getting that new Galaxy S4 and contemplate staying and feeling in-place with the iPhone community.
Even then, I think it’s going to have a limited reach. What it’s essentially saying is to “stay with iPhone because iPhone is popular and cool!” yet, if it is supposed to be targeted at users who are considering switching to competing smartphones for better features, then “popular and cool” are probably not (or no longer) part of the primary criteria in that consideration.
It’s time to face reality, iPhone. Your time as the king of the mobile smartphone space is done.
I’ve always been displeased with the uprise of Apple iPads in schools across British Columbia. For their high cost, iPads provide less flexibility than cheaper laptops when typing is a necessity in school projects and provide less features and lower productivity than Android tablets like the Google Nexus 7, Galaxy Note 10.1 and other competitors. High costs in technology means there’s usually less to go around for students than with alternative, less costly options – which can create challenges, especially in an era where many schools face budget shortages and do not come close to being able to afford giving every clasroom technology for every student.
When I heard about this pilot program, it occured to me that the school where this program was put into a place is one where a good friend of mine I used to go to school with now goes to, so I contacted her immediately about it. She told me that while she wasn’t part of the class taking part in this program, she did know about it, and did manage to meet the president of Samsung Canada when he had visited the school.
If I had the same opprtunity to meet the president of Samsung Canada, I would have given him quite a handshake. I couldn’t be happier in knowing that the introduction of a program in a North American schools involving Samsung tablets is happening in my province, and in my metropolitan area. The per-unit cost of a Samsung Galaxy Note is less than an iPad, despite better specifications and better features that are suited to students like the S-Pen for writing and S-Note, Android 4.1 features like Google Now and split-screen multitasking. That means that more units can be purchased by a school for more students, and each unit can do far more than a usual iPad, improving educational output.
The below article on MobileSyrup (link) says that Riverview Secondary is currently the only North American school to be going through this pilot program, but I hope other schools follow suit soon. There is a video in this that contains a lot of positive comments from teachers, students and parents about the program.
Image above: all the suing Apple has done in the past few years, esp. over smartphone companies.
Below: This is from 6 years ago. Apparently, Apple has a history of suing before even researching if it is valid to sue. I find this ironic, as they are the most valuable and one of the most powerful companies in the world and yet, as you can see by all the lawsuits, they hold so much fear.
Apple’s lawyers have gone after the popular humor community site Something Awful for posting a link to one of Apple’s own internal service manuals. The link resolves to a third party website, and was posted in a useful and informed discussion about Apple’s troubled MacBook Pro.
SA’s founder Richard Kyanka received an email from Apple claiming:
“The Service Source manual for the MacBook Pro is Apple’s intellectual property and is protected by US copyright law. Linking to the manual on your website is an infringement of Apple’s copyrights. We therefore must insist that you immediately take all necessary steps to remove the Service Source manual and any other Apple copyrighted material from your site and to prevent further unauthorized use or distribution of Apple intellectual property. “
Six years ago, a US judge in a case brought by Ticketmaster ruled that deep linking does not violate the copyright act.
“I replied to Apple and told them basically to screw off because I’m not doing anything illegal,” wrote Kyanka.
“NOTHING, I repeat, NOTHING is even hosted on SA. All we have is a link going to somebody else’s webspace. I guess Apple has no clue how the internet even works; they should be threatening to sue the ISP hosting the horribly illegal service manual, not some guy who runs a forum where his forum members are TRYING TO HELP people fix issues with their faulty Apple computers.”
The case is likely to bring more attention to MacBook Pro’s recent woes. We should also note that Lenovo, which now owns the IBM ThinkPad business, continues to make identical technical manuals freely available on the internet.
Since the case was settled in the US, the issue has raised its head in several unrelated disputes. Three years ago budget airline Ryanair blocked access to Openjet.com, a flight shopping comparison site, and only in the same year was the issue settled in Germany.
A similar link was posted on Apple’s own Support Forums, and has only just been removed at time of writing. Saving Apple the trouble of suing itself. ®
Technology giant Apple is perceived as less “inspiring” than it was three years ago, a brand survey suggests.
The findings will heighten concerns among shareholders who have seen about $230bn wiped off Apple’s stock market value since September 2012.
Smartphone rival Samsung is now seen as equally “inspiring” in the US, says the survey by consultancy Added Value (AV).
AV is part of Sir Martin Sorrell’s marketing group WPP, whose clients include Samsung, Google and eBay.
Analysts fear Apple may have lost its way since its visionary co-founder, Steve Jobs, died in October 2011.
While Apple’s brand still scores more highly overall, Samsung’s is more consistently appreciated across the world, particularly in East Asia, says Added Value.
Apple’s reputation for market-leading innovation took a knock after the iPhone 5 was seen as an iteration of an earlier design rather than a characteristic step-change.
According to research by Gartner, Samsung and Apple now account for 52% of the global smartphone market, but in the final quarter of 2012, Samsung sold 64.5 million smartphones to Apple’s 43.5 million.
Similarly, Apple’s iPad Mini was a response to rival, smaller tablet computers already on the market, adding to the impression Apple was following, not leading.
In September 2012, Apple’s share price topped $700 – a record for the company – giving the tech company a market capitalisation of more than $655bn.
But since then, the price has tumbled, wiping about $230bn off the company’s value.
Since 2011, Apple and Samsung have been slugging it out across the world’s courts in a series of distracting patent battles.
Apple first sued Samsung in the US for alleged intellectual property infringements. Other court cases have taken place in France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy, South Korea and Japan, with no company yet emerging as the clear winner.
Apple may be sitting on a $137bn cash mountain, but unless it can recapture its role as an “inspiring” technology leader and settle its legal battles, the perception may grow that its best days are behind it, analysts believe.
‘Bold and exciting’
In its Cultural Traction 2013 report, Added Value analysed the “cultural vibrancy” of 160 brands across 15 sectors, involving more than 62,000 respondents in 10 countries.
The top 10 brands perceived to be the most “visionary, inspiring, bold and exciting” were Google, Apple, Samsung, Ikea, Microsoft, Sony, BMW, Audi, Coca-Cola and eBay.
Want to know more about what I know about Apple? Visit a website I created to expose their hypocrisy: Apple Hypocrisy