Compass Card Hack – Another Fine Mess TransLink Has Gotten Into

Not well reported in the mainstream media is the fact that the $200 million Compass Card/Fare gate systemAi?? is now next to useless because not so honest people can hack through the system.

The Compass Card is old tech, sold to TransLink after an orchestrated campaign by the mainstream media that fare evasion was rampant and that fare gates were needed; and yes former premier Gordon Campbell’s best buddy, and senior bureaucrat at the City of Vancouver,Ken Dobel,Ai?? just by coincidence was the lobbyist for Cubit Industries, trying to flog their dated wares.

This debacle is not TransLink’s fault, rather it is the BC Liberal’s fault forcing yesterday’s tech on today’s transit system.

Sometimes the old way to collect fares is the best way and really, $200 million would have been better spent improving transit, rather than financing another boondoggle.

CTV reporter Jon Woodward shows that hackers can bypass SkyTrain fare gates

by Charlie Smith on April 9th, 2016

  • TransLink officials are facing another controversy over the Compass card.

A Vancouver journalist has demonstratedAi??that the $194-million Compass-card system can be hacked to gain free access to SkyTrain.

Ai??CTV’s Jon WoodwardAi??ran an expired Compass ticket by his smartphone, showing howAi??this simple actAi??could open the closed fareAi??gate at a SkyTrain system.

You can see how he did it here.

“They look like paper tickets but inside is a chip that keeps track of how long you can ride,” Woodward told his viewers.Ai??”These are for single trips but CTV News was alerted to an apparent security flaw, one that allows anyone with a smartphone and two free apps to use the tickets more than once.”

This is accomplished with the help of NFC technology, which rewrites the data on the ticket. According to Woodward (aAi??UBC mathemetics grad), NFC isAi??widely available, including on Google Wallet andAi??Apple Pay. AndAi??he noted thatAi??similar ripoffs have occurredAi??on transit systems in other cities.

TransLinkAi??announcedAi??in 2010 that it had selected San Diego-based Cubic Transportation Systems and IBM as its supplier of a new smart-card-operated fare-gate system. Cubic’sAi??lobbyists includedAi??former TransLink CEO Ken Dobell and former Millennium Line project manager Lecia Stewart.

At the time, the regional transportation authority saidAi??that the smart-card systemAi??would be operational by 2013. Delays prevented it from being completelyAi??rolled out on SkyTrain and SeaBusesAi??until this year.


One Response to “Compass Card Hack – Another Fine Mess TransLink Has Gotten Into”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Actually Zwei, it doesn’t matter the tech, whether it is from a new card, via a cell phone (which has the advantage of removing a lot of hardware needed with transit card systems) or any other format that has been figured out, as long as you are sending a signal through the air even if it is only a short range signal (1/2 a metre or so) and even if it is scrambled and encrypted it can and will be hacked. As long as a signal goes through the air it can be picked up and hacked into. We can even hack into communication transmissions that uses lasers as a carrier wave, that’s a little trick we (The RCN) use to use to pick up and listen in on the Russian Navy’s Laser Communication/Transmission system for their subs. If the signal goes through the air it can be picked up. The safest nonhackable transit payment system ever developed so far are cash,tokens or tickets. The problem with them is that , these payment options are too expensive to use in an age where having no people involved is seen as better/cheaper than actually paying anyone to count and manage them. These transit card systems also provide invaluable data for planners figuring where and how many people actually go to any location on the transit network.

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