The Orange Card dilemma!

Hi everyone;

Good day and all that!

I started this blog over a month ago, and want to finish it!

It is about Translink, Vancouver’s public transit authority.

Here are some facts, straight up…

  • Translink has two different colour fare cards: Blue and Orange. These cards are called, and run by, Compass cards.
  • Blue cards are for able-bodied persons.
  • Orange cards are “Concession” cards for children under 16, seniors, and some persons with a disability.
  • Translink has kiosks at every Skytrain and Seabus station in the lower mainland. The main purpose of these machinnes is to buy a Compass card or reload fares.

I have used the kiosks to add value to my sons’ cards, so they can take the bus to and from school.

The first time I used a kiosk, I became very frustrated because I could barely see the touchscreen display. Not only was the screen small print, with zero accessibility features, it was also a touch screen! Thousands of people had, well, touched the screen! With so many fingerprints, sweat, drool, snot and such, the actual display incredibly fuzzy at best!

Yes, I sanitized immediately after completing! Phew!

After that first time, and the second time, I became more adept in using these machines. Adding value to my sons’ cards with less struggle than the first time. I’d still need to use my Magnifier app on my iPhone, which was a drag; when will Translink add accessibility features? Larger font? Cleaner screens

Oh, while Translink upgrades their kiosks, or is it Compass’s kiosks? I might be confused here, why not make sure that the machines distribute Orange Concession cards as well!


Yes, it is true! I was trying to buy a concession fare card for my son, who had lost his, at a kiosk, only to find out the kiosks did not stock concession cards!

Why? I don’t know! If you need a concession card, you need to go to a store, such as London Drugs or Shoppers Drug Mart, or the Customer Service centre at Stadium station.

I call this Ableism, and allow me to give you two stories that should explain why I feel wronged!

Carol goes to work on lovely Monday morning; she takes the Skytrain from Gateway in Surrey to Burrard in Vancouver. Being a Monday, she is flusteredly late, taps her Blue card at Gateway, jostled her coffee, her lunch and her umbrella. When she arrives at Burrard, she fumbles in her pockets, and then her bags, and then comes to realize, she must have dropped her blue compass card. Damn it, she’d undoubtedly mutter, and head to the nearest kiosk, where she would either purchase an exit amount, as you can’t fare cards inside anyways. Going home, she’d get a new card at the Burrard station’s kiosk, and then call compass to transfer funds to the new card.

Really very easy. To her, that is stressful, but to others, it is a walk in the park.

Now, Phil, is a 74 old retired teacher, who is on his was to visit his new sweetheart. He can’t drive, as he likes to take public transit! He taps his concession card at the Burquitlam station, switching trains at University, and zooms to Patterson station. Somehow, somewhere, his concession card slips out of his raincoat pocket, maybe he put it in a faux pocket, and it fell to the floor, unbeknownst to him! Blame the dreary rainy Friday afternoon!

At Patterson, after searching every pocket, faux or not, he scrambles for change, gets a ticket to leave and exits the station.

He is a bit frustrated, but sees his sweetie, and all thoughts of the lost card are quickly replaced by happy thoughts. They have a nice date, enjoying their company.

When it is time to head back home, Phil remembers he needs a new concession card. Heading to Patterson station, he tries to buy a concession card, no luck! Being late at night, and he is 74, he is forced to buy a normal fare.

The next day, he goes back to Burquitlam station, thinking maybe he did something wrong. Still can’t buy Concession card, so he again must pay normal fare, to get to London Drugs. He is lucky that this store he went to actually had a few cards left. He heads back to the station, adds value, calls Compass to transfer fare, and then finally heads home.

With Carol, she was able to replace her missing card within 5 minutes. Whereas Phil took much longer, and he had to pay more for his fares, twice; once to get home, and once to get from Burquitlam to Lougheed, which he took the bus because it would be easier.

Do you see why I think this is a case of Ableism? While Translink moves people of all sorts, if a senior or a child with a concession card loses that card, they are forced to, or their parents, to go out of their way to buy a replacement card, while others, who use transit to get to and from work, can simply buy a replacement card at any kiosk. Fair? Convenient? No!

Translink, and Compass, please consider two things:

1. Update your kiosks to be accessible, which means, larger fonts, clearer (and cleaner) screens, audio jack (through I wouldn’t know if this exists, being Deaf-Blind).

2. Make concession cards available at all kiosks!

Thank you for listening!

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