Surrey Coun. Judy Villeneuve said it's "absurd" that cash-paying bus passengers won't be able to use their transfers on SkyTrain under TransLink's new Compass Card system.
TransLink says it would cost $25 million to retrofit the fare boxes on all Coast Mountain buses.
Villeneuve said that reasoning is not good enough.
"If they need a bus, some people are going to continue to use cash. I always use cash," she said.
Transportation was identified in Surrey's Poverty Reduction Plan as an area that needs to be addressed to lift people above the poverty line, Villeneuve said.
"This is just another burden on them," she said.
TransLink defended its decision, saying that users can purchase a Compass Card to avoid having to pay twice.
Villeneuve is not satisfied with the defense. "Many people who are really needing to use that transportation are people that are low income, and they should be able to buy a ticket on a bus and use it as a transfer."
She expects the system will lose ridership.
"People move here because the housing is a bit more affordable but their transportation costs are higher now, as it is... Many people are working one or two jobs, and they're often minimum wage jobs, to try and support their family. This is just one more burden on them."
Villeneuve said tourism could also be affected: People coming to visit who pay cash on a bus and get to a SkyTrain may find themselves confused and upset when they realize they have to pay a second time.
"I think it's going to affect tourism. I think it makes the system look very poor."
Villeneuve wants TransLink to address the issue.
"From what I hear, I'm really dissatisfied," she said. "They need to make an adjustment there."
Surrey Coun. Tom Gill also said TransLink should rethink its decision. He said this is an example of how disconnected it is from its users.
"At the end of the day, it's a big slap in the face for those folks that live south of the Fraser," Gill said.
Delta Mayor Lois Jackson said she yet again finds herself disappointed with TransLink.
"Sometimes I certainly wonder if common sense has died," Jackson said.
She said she's disappointed that it seems people are being penalized.
"Maybe there's something that's going to come out that we're not aware of at the moment, but I think there has to be a simpler way of dealing with this that people will feed good about."
Jackson said she is discouraged when it comes to TransLink and its decisions.
"I'm not a brainiac, but surely there's a better way, a better sense way, a more efficient
way of handling these things that keep popping up," she said.
Jackson would like to see major companies come to this side of the Fraser River so local residents aren't forced to commute. "Then we won't have to put up with all this baloney they're trying to feed us," she said.
Jackson would like to see TransLink decisions handed over to the mayors to make.
A petition has been launched on change.
org against TransLink's decision regarding cash-purchased bus transfers and as of early afternoon Monday, it had over 4,600 supporters.
The Compass Card is a reloadable, electronic fare card that will work everywhere on transit in Metro Vancouver. It is expected to arrive late this year and TransLink says there will be an extended transition period.
Derek Zabel, TransLink spokesman, said the majority of transit users already use pre-paid media, and estimates about 6,000 passengers will likely be affected by the change.
TransLink also recently announced that it will be axing its employee pass program, FareSaver tickets, as well as free travel for family members of monthly pass holders on Sunday and holidays as of 2014.
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