New MTS Mobile Payment Option an Improvement But Major Problems Remain

by on March 31, 2017 · 0 comments

in San Diego

Compass Cloud will benefit riders, but basic problems for the Compass Card remain unfixed

from Circulate San Diego

Thursday’s release of the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) Compass Cloud mobile payment option is an improvement for transit riders, but it does not resolve basic problems with the existing Compass Card. (see MTS advisory about the Compass Cloud here. )

Colin Parent, Policy Counsel for Circulate San Diego, stated:

“While the MTS mobile fare payment system is a welcomed enhancement, significant improvements for the Compass Card are still needed.”

MTS CEO Paul Jablonski is often credited for improving basic transit operations after joining the agency, including with cleaner cars and updated routes. Said Parent:

“Transit systems work when they get the basics right, but MTS has failed to get the basics right on fare payment,”

Issue 1: MTS continues to be the largest transit agency in the nation that has a smart card without the basic function of stored value, according to research from Circulate San Diego. “Stored value” allows a transit rider to store funds on a card for future use.

MTS has promised that stored value is only months from implementation, for years now. Here are some examples, dating as far back as 2013:

  • “San Diego’s Metropolitan Transit System is working toward adding the long-delayed function of stored value to its electronic fare card, the Compass Card, by Nov. 1.” [KPBS, June 3, 2016]
  • “In an interview with KPBS in 2013, MTS CEO Paul Jablonski said… he hoped ‘by late summer, fall, we’re going to roll out stored value.’” [KPBS, January 14, 2016]
  • “The upgrade was scheduled to be completed by November but is now more likely to come sometime in early 2017, MTS spokesman Rob Schupp said.” [KPBS, November 16, 2016]
  • “If all goes well, will launch in mid to late January.” [MTS Board Report, page 278, December 8, 2016]

Issue 2: KPBS recently reported that the MTS Compass Card does not have the basic level of PCI compliance, leaving consumers vulnerable to fraud. No timeline to fix this has been released.

While the mobile Compass Cloud system is an improvement for riders, MTS must get the basics right, and implement both stored value and PCI compliance for the Compass Card.

Circulate San Diego is a regional non-profit organization dedicated to advancing mobility and making the region a better place to move, work, learn, and play. Our work focuses on creating great mobility choices, more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and land uses that promote sustainable growth.

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