TransLink to Launch Free Shaw Wi-Fi on Entire Transit System Starting in 2020

TransLink and Shaw have announced they are working together to bring free Wi-Fi to transit customers in Metro Vancouver, starting in 2020.

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“We have half-a-million people ride our system every day, and when we ask them what they’d like to see on transit, Wi-Fi is one of the most frequent requests,” said TransLink CEO Kevin Desmond, in a press release. 

Free public Wi-Fi will start deploying in 2020, with trials beginning in 2019. All TransLink riders, regardless of whether they are Shaw customers, will get free Wi-Fi connectivity aboard any bus, SkyTrain or SeaBus.

“We’re proud to be the first transit authority in Canada to offer this free Wi-Fi service and we’re doing it at no cost to our customers or taxpayers,” added Desmond.

Free Wi-Fi will “come at no cost to TransLink or its customers,” explains the transit company, noting the system will be installed and operated by Shaw. The expansion builds on the existing TransLink-Shaw partnership which has had free Wi-Fi at SeaBus terminals and SeaBus ferries since 2018 ^(

“Every day, thousands of people use their transit commute to catch up on life and reach out to friends, family and colleagues — and having access to seamless connectivity is what makes this possible,” said Katherine Emberly, President, Business, Brand and Communications, Shaw Communications, in a press release.  

The first Wi-Fi rollout will begin with SkyTrain and buses. TransLink says they expect the entire Wi-Fi rollout across their network finished by 2025. Other services are expected to eventually gain free Wi-Fi, including HandyDART, West Coast Express and community shuttle buses.

Should TransLink Adopt Apple Wallet for Compass Cards or Wristbands?

TransLink, which operates Metro Vancouver’s transportation network, is set to test a new tap method at its fare gates, through wearable wristbands.

The wristband–which looks like a black version of a LIVESTRONG band–was spotted by users after being posted on Instagram by an employee testing out the new payment method.

A TransLink spokesperson told Global News ^( they are indeed “testing Compass wristbands as a potential alternative form of payment.” Is this April 1st?

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TransLink debuted their Compass Card in 2018 as a way to tap in and out of new fare gates, replacing the previous gate-free “honour system”. For years, the public demanded fare gates to stop evaders, but the transit agency countered the cost of installing gates outweighed revenue lost from fare jumpers.

Apple currently has NFC integration with select transit systems in China, Russia, the UK, the United States and Japan ^(

Earlier this summer, Toronto’s TTC was said to be in talks with Apple to integrate the former’s PRESTO card ^( into the iOS Wallet app.

Wristbands Seen as Positive Alternative for Those with Mobility Issues

While the thought of wearing a wristband Compass Card does not appeal for some, it can serve a useful purpose, especially for those with mobility issues.

Sam Turcott, the executive director of Disability Alliance BC, told Global, “There’s many people who have dexterity and mobility issues who may have difficulty grasping or retrieving a compass card from a wallet,” and a wristband would “make it a lot easier.”

This spring, TransLink launched tap payments for Visa and MasterCard at fare gates, which included support for mobile wallets such as Apple Pay, Google Pay and Samsung Pay ^(

In 2018, many transit users have questioned why TransLink doesn’t just adopt a mobile wallet on smartphones such as Apple Wallet on iPhone for the Compass Card. You can’t lose a digital card (unless you lose your smartphone), while rubber wristbands will still get lost and end up in landfills.

What do you want from TransLink? A wristband or Apple Wallet integration at some point?