TripCard trips up
Hi-tech bus pass sent back to drawing board
By Chris Woodall
It took J.A.W. McCurdy's Silver Dart a few attempts to take flight in 1909 before he became the Canadian who took the British Empire into the air age, so it's no biggie that Whistler's hi-tech bus pass is also having a bumpy flying start.
The municipality has taken the 30-day card off the market in the face of glitches that prevent the electronic bus ticket from working.
Bus riders have discovered that a few five-day and 20-day cards have had some problems, too, but not enough to park them until a better version comes along.
Never fear, however. Municipal bus drivers will honour all 30-day TripCard carriers until Dec. 15. Just show the driver the card.
"We apologise for any inconvenience to our riders. We appreciate their indulgence in this," municipal clerk Linda Mannheim says.
"We stopped selling the 30-day card as of Nov. 14, so some people may actually get a couple of free weeks," if they bought their long-term card at the beginning of November when it was launched, says Mannheim.
"It's a very small test market here in Whistler," adds Mannheim of the innovative cards that are supposed to slide into a reader, which electronically nicks off the trip.
"This is not the way we would have hoped it would go, but that's why this is a test period," Mannheim says. "We'll never know how it'll work until the cards are activated and being used."
If a five-trip or 20-trip card fails to work, the bus driver will try the card to make sure its not the user's fault, then hole-punch it to mark the trip.
Riders are then to take the card to municipal hall for a replacement.
Getting the wonky cards is important so the manufacturer can get a grip on what went wrong.
For example, the 30-day cards were found to have a problem with the laminate interfering with the card's effectiveness.
The 30-day TripCards will make a return early in the new year, Mannheim says. Until then the municipality may resurrect the old-style monthly pass.
A new — and the municipality hopes error-free — version of the shorter duration cards will come out in a few weeks.