Questions are being raised about whether B.C. Bus Pass holders in outlying regions will still be able to use the pass to board SkyTrain when they come to Metro Vancouver.

Faregates may exclude some seniors, disabled with annual passes

SkyTrain access uncertain for B.C. Bus Pass holders who live outside Metro Vancouver

TransLink has yet to determine how some seniors and disabled transit users from the Fraser Valley with special passes will be able to board SkyTrain once the Compass card is fully in effect and fare gates are closed.

About 90,000 low-income seniors and other B.C. residents on disability assistance get provincially subsidized B.C. Bus Passes at a cost of $45 a year, giving them blanket transit access anywhere in the province.

Most of those pass holders live in Metro Vancouver and they have already been issued Compass cards to replace the old paper passes, which won’t open faregates.

But so far there’s no plan to do the same for others living in the Fraser Valley or on Vancouver Island so they can continue to use SkyTrain when they come to Metro Vancouver.

Advocates say they don’t want those passholders to be denied rapid transit access.

“If you’re living in the Fraser Valley and you need to come in, it could be a problem,” said Disability Alliance B.C. executive director Jane Dyson. “It’s not clear to us yet how this is going to work.”

TransLink spokesman Chris Bryan said bus drivers will continue to accept the regular B.C. Bus Passes.

As for whether companion Compass cards will be issued to pass holders living outside Metro, Bryan said TransLink is in discussions with the provincial ministry of social development.

“We’re working with the province on how that’s going to work,” he said.

He acknowledged there is some concern about the potential for illegal reselling of Compass cards enabled for the annual pass.

A Compass card version of the B.C. Bus Pass is more likely to be of use to someone in Abbotsford than a Fort St. John resident, he noted.

B.C. is the only province that subsidizes transit passes for low-income seniors and those on disability assistance, to the tune of $50 million a year.

Another access concern is how sip-and-puff wheelchair users who are paralyzed from the neck down with no use of their arms will be able to tap in and out with Compass cards at SkyTrain stations.

“They will not be able to use their Compass cards unassisted,” Dyson said.

Since TransLink won’t have attendants at every station, those disabled transit users who have until now been able to use the system independently may be forced to seek assistance from strangers.

“We are concerned that will diminish folks’ independence and dignity and safety,” she said. “This takes things backwards for those folks.”

One idea she suggests is to have a Compass reader mounted in a lower side position on one faregate per station – affected passengers could have their card strapped to the side of their chair and drive against the reader.

Bryan said TransLink is continuing to explore whether a solution exists.

“It’s a challenge that ideally we would like to be able to overcome,” he said.

Just Posted

Victoria police search for missing senior last seen in James Bay at noon today

Elsie Habbick, 75, is quite mobile, despite suffering from dementia

PHOTOS: 120th Annual Victoria Day Parade

Check out the photo gallery, watch our live feed of the festivities

Esquimalt Farmers Market kicks off summer season

Recently named Best Mid-sized Farmers Market in B.C., weekly event returns to Memorial Park

Preserving Victoria’s character buildings costly, but worth it

Pemberton and Son recognized for heritage preservation of Promis Block

Reporter gets serious with Tour de Victoria’s 140km ride

Travis Paterson’s training blog for Ryder Hesjedal’s Tour de Victoria on Aug. 18, Volume 1

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

SAR scaling back in Kilmer search, but friends will keep looking

Search for 41-year-old Cobble Hill dad hits six-day mark

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Still no sign of missing father in Cowichan Valley

Search group for Ben Kilmer now stands 40 SAR volunteers and another 100 friends and concerned community members

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

Most Read