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Contact: Colin Parent
Cell: (858) 442-7374
[email protected]

New MTS mobile payment option is an improvement, but major problems remain
Compass Cloud will benefit riders, but basic problems for the Compass Card remain unfixed

Today’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. (Today’s MTS advisory about the Compass Cloud is attached to this release [at this link]).

 “While the MTS mobile fare payment system is a welcomed enhancement, significant improvements for the Compass Card are still needed.” said Colin Parent, Policy Counsel for Circulate San Diego. 

MTS CEO Paul Jablonski is often credited for improving basic transit operations after joining the agency, including with cleaner cars and updated routes. “Transit systems work when they get the basics right, but MTS has failed to get the basics right on fare payment,” said Parent.

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:

  • “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]
  • “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]
  • “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]

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.