TransLink is cutting off free transit passes for federal fisheries department staff.

TransLink is cutting off free transit passes for federal fisheries department staff.

TransLink cuts off some free transit passes

Housecleaning sweeps out perk for DFO staff, BC Transit employees

The free transit ride for fisheries officers will soon be over.

TransLink is weeding out a number of legacy arrangements under which it gave free or heavily discounted transit passes to various groups.

Among those losing privileges are employees of the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, who for years were given free TransLink passes but are cut off starting this month.

TransLink board chair Nancy Olewiler said she has no idea why such a pass ever existed.

“Why would fisheries officers have to get on public transit?” she asked. “Aren’t the fish in the ocean?”

Also eliminated is a reciprocal deal under which BC Transit employees got to ride TransLink’s system for free and vice-versa.

Those are among the first changes in a broader housecleaning of the fare structure coming in the months ahead as TransLink prepares to launch its new Compass card payment system.

Olewiler said both TransLink’s board and management were astounded to learn how many different pass types and arrangements were identified in a recent review.

“Many of these were inherited from BC Transit and they have been in the system for decades,” she said.

For the most part, TransLink will seek to electronically replicate the most commonly used fare types within the new Compass cards.

You’ll still be able to buy a month’s worth of transit service at a discount via the card and Olewiler said there will be other “value proposition” discounts for regular users, but prepaid books of paper FareSaver tickets won’t be sold any more.

U-Passes will be incorporated within the smart cards and will be less fraud prone –TransLink will be able to disqualify students who sign up for classes and then soon cancel them.

Transit security officers will have hand-held readers to scan Compass cards on the system and then demand matching student ID if the card is U-Pass-enabled.

Despite the unfairness of the current zone system, that won’t be immediately changed with the move to faregates and smart cards.

Olewiler said TransLink will wait and use the new smart cards to get better data on rider movements before deciding how to potentially reconfigure or eliminate the zones down the road.