U-Pass FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions


What is the Compass Card?

Compass is a durable, reloadable electronic fare card that will replace TransLink’s current paper passes and tickets. Initial Launch Compass Cards are being provided to UBC students free of charge (no deposit) as part of the introduction of this new system.

What is U-Pass BC?

U-Pass BC is a universal transit pass for UBC students which provides unlimited use of buses, Skytrain and SeaBus service across Metro Vancouver. Since September 2011, a partnership between the Provincial government and TransLink has made one common U-Pass program available to all public post-secondary schools across Metro Vancouver.

Is the U-Pass BC program changing?

No, the U-Pass BC program remains the same. U-Pass BC is going digital and will be integrated into Translink’s new Compass Card.

U-Pass BC Benefit

What are the benefits of U-Pass BC?

The U-Pass BC program provides all eligible members of UBC’s Alma Mater Society (AMS) with lower transit fares across all zones–including unlimited use of bus, SkyTrain and SeaBus services within Metro Vancouver. Most students at UBC-affiliated colleges are eligible for the program.  Discounted fares on the West Coast Express are also available.

Is U-Pass BC mandatory?

Yes, the program is mandatory. The success of the program relies on a bulk purchase so that UBC students pay only $38 per month which is a significant discount in comparison to the retail price $180 for a three-zone pass. Ninety-six per cent of students who voted in the February 2013 AMS Referendum overwhelmingly elected to participate in the new program at the cost of $38 per month.

Who is eligible for U-Pass BC?

Students are eligible to participate in U-Pass BC if:

  1. you are a full-time or part-time student at UBC and you are assessed AMS student fees and either
  2. you are registered in a minimum of three credits, or
  3. paying at least $720 in tuition fees.

For a full list of eligibility criteria and exemptions, please see U-Pass BC Eligibility, Exemptions and Subsidies.

Can I get an exemption?

You can apply for exemptions under specific circumstances, including if you have a disability that prevents you from using public transit. In addition, there are a small number of students who are automatically exempt from the program. You can submit an exemption application by logging into the Student Service Centre.

For more information on eligibility, exemptions and subsidies please see U-Pass BC Eligibility, Exemptions and Subsidies.

What if I withdraw from my courses or complete my program requirements early?

If you have requested your U-Pass BC benefit online for the current month, you will not be entitled to a refund and you can use your Compass Card until it expires at the end of the month. If you withdraw from your courses you will not be eligible for the U-Pass BC benefit for the remainder of the term.

What are the Conditions of Use

The U-Pass BC benefit may only be used by the student registered to the online account, and who possesses valid student identification that matches the ID used to request the U-Pass BC benefit. If you are taking classes at two different institutions, you must carry and produce the ID for the institution whose U-Pass BC program you have linked to your Compass Card to.

Your U-Pass BC is only valid for travel - in the month requested - in and across all zones and at all times on South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (TransLink) service region buses, SeaBus and SkyTrain and for discounted fares on West Coast Express.

Use of this benefit is subject to the terms and conditions of the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (TransLink) Transit Tariff. Contravention may result in confiscation of this Pass and/or prosecution.

Getting a Compass Card & Linking Your U-Pass BC

How do I get a Compass Card?

Initial Launch Compass Cards will be distributed to UBC summer students through the same high-speed vending machines that used to dispense paper passes. These machines are located at the old SUB, UBC Bookstore and Robson Square.

The machines are programmed to issue only one Compass Card per student.  Students will no longer need to pickup a paper pass from the machine each month.

How do I link my U-Pass BC to a Compass Card?

As part of the Compass Card program at UBC, U-Pass BC benefits are linked to the Compass Card.

The first time you go online to request your monthly U-Pass BC benefit you will need to link it to a Compass Card by doing the following:

  1. Visit upassbc.translink.ca
  2. Select UBC as your Post-Secondary Institution
  3. Enter your CWL login and password when redirected to UBC
  4. Request your U-Pass BC benefit
  5. Allow up to 24 hours for activation

Always make sure to request your next month's benefit well in advance. It can take up to 24 hours to activate your U-Pass BC onto your Compass Card, and this request must be processed before you are eligible to ride transit.

When do I request my U-Pass BC benefit?

Students can request their U-Pass BC every month that they are eligible on or after the 16th to ride transit in the following month (i.e. request on or after September 16th for travel in October ). Benefit requests can be made up until the final day of the month in which you are traveling (i.e. you can request your September pass up until September 30th for travel in September).

How long is my U-Pass BC valid for?

Your benefit is valid on a monthly basis and expires on the last day of each month. In order to prevent fraudulent use of the U-Pass BC benefit, students must request their pass at upassbc.translink.ca on or after 16th of the month to ride transit in the following month.

I tried to get my pass, but the machine wouldn’t give it to me

The U-Pass BC machines have been reconfigured to issue one Initial Launch Compass Card to each eligible student.

As part of the launch of the Compass Card program, U-Pass BC benefits will only be available online. Each month, eligible students will need to request their U-Pass BC benefit, and it will be automatically linked to their Compass Card.

When I try to log in at upassbc.translink.ca, the website says I have an 'Inaccessible User Role'

The most common issue here is that your web-browser is trying to restore an earlier web session. To resolve this, please try the following:

Restart your browser
Clear your cache, or
Try logging in with a new browser

The “Inaccessible User Role” message can also appear when a student has more than one valid CWL.

Try logging in with your other CWL to request your U-Pass. 

If you continue to see this message and nothing above resolves it, contact IT Services at 604-822-2008 and tell them you are having trouble using your CWL to update your compass card.

Using the Compass Card Linked to Your U-Pass BC

When can I start using the Compass Card linked to my U-Pass BC?

Once your U-Pass BC benefit has been linked to a Compass Card, it is valid for a one-month period, from the first to last day of the month regardless of when you link it online.

You will need to request your U-Pass BC benefit each month from the 16th of the month onwards to ride transit in the following month. Students cannot use their benefit before the start of the month in which it is valid.

What if I forget my Compass Card or student ID?

You must always carry your student ID with you whenever you use your U-Pass BC. If you forget either then you are required to pay the appropriate transit fare. If you ride transit without proof of payment then you may be subject to fines and/or loss of U-Pass BC privileges.

What if I lose the Compass Card linked to my U-Pass BC?

To prevent misuse, you should unlink your compass card as soon as it is lost.  This can be done easily through TransLink’s U-Pass BC Website: upassbc.translink.ca

U-Pass BC benefit can be transferred onto a new Compass Card easily through TransLink's U-Pass BC Website: upassbc.translink.ca.  

UBC students can purchase replacement Compass Cards from Compass Customer Service at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station for a $6 deposit that is fully refundable.  The office at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station is open Monday – Friday from 8:00am-4:00pm.  Students may be required to show student ID when purchasing replacement cards.

What if I lose my student ID?

Lost or Stolen UBCcards must be reported immediately. UBC departments (including the Bookstore, Library, Food Services, Housing, Athletics and others) assume no responsibility for fraudulent use of your UBCcard before the Lost or Stolen Card Notification Form is submitted and processed by the UBC Carding Office. You can report your lost or stolen UBCcards online. UBCcards can be replaced for a $15 fee (subject to change without notice). It is important to replace lost Student ID cards as these are required for valid use of your U-Pass BC.

What if I forget to Tap in or Tap out with my Compass Card?

You must always tap in and tap out with your Compass Card when starting or ending trips on Transit, or transferring onto new transit services as part of the same trip. This is how the system validates your fare, and how TransLink receives important data to support sustainability for the U-Pass BC program and future system improvements.  

While there is no financial penalty for U-Pass BC students who do not tap out at the end of a trip, it is still important that students tap out. Tapping out provides important ridership data that supports the future of the program, and will help prevent students from getting charged for 3-zone trips when they leave the U-Pass BC program and purchase retail passes.

Check out TransLink's top 10 tips for using the Compass Card.

Can I loan my Compass Card to a friend?

Your U-Pass BC benefit is non-transferable so you may NOT loan your U-Pass BC-enabled Compass Card to anyone.  If you have several Compass Cards in a household, consider using a permanent marker or a sticker to indicate which Compass Card has been loaded with a U-Pass BC.

If I’m not able to use my pass, can I sell it to another person?

The U-Pass BC benefit is not transferable. Lending or selling the Compass Card linked to your U-Pass BC account, or attempting to use another person’s U-Pass BC benefit, is an offence. Students must always carry linked student photo I.D.

I've lost my Compass Card. What do I do now?

To prevent misuse, you should:

Unlink your compass card as soon as it is lost, and 
Transfer your U-Pass BC benefit onto a new Compass Card.

Both of these can be done easily through TransLink’s U-Pass BC Website: upassbc.translink.ca.  

Currently, UBC students can purchase replacement Compass Cards from Compass Customer Service at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station.  These cards require a $6 deposit that is fully refundable.  The office at Stadium-Chinatown SkyTrain Station is open Monday – Friday from 8:00am-4:00pm.

Starting in October, customers can also purchase Adult Compass Cards from Compass Vending Machines (CVMs) at SkyTrain stations. By November, Adult Compass Cards and Concession Compass Cards will be available for purchase online at compasscard.ca, by phone and at the Compass Customer Service Centre at Stadium-Chinatown Station. 

Costs and Payment

How much does U-Pass BC cost me?

The cost of the U-Pass BC program is included in your student fees, and is $152 per term or $38 per month.

If I don’t request my pass, am I still charged?

Yes, the U-Pass BC program is mandatory. If you are eligible, and have not secured an exemption, you will be charged the U-Pass BC fee whether or not you request the U-Pass BC Benefit.

When do I pay for my U-Pass BC?

The U-Pass BC charges are included in your student fees. For Winter Terms 1 and 2 you will be assessed the U-Pass BC fee at the beginning of each term and charged for all four months at once. For the summer terms you will be assessed and charged the U-Pass BC fee on a monthly basis, and are only eligible for U-Pass BC in each month that you meet eligibility requirements. For example, if you are taking courses and meet eligibility requirements in May and June, you are only eligible to receive a U-Pass BC for May and June and will not receive a U-Pass BC for July and August.

What if I owe tuition or am on financial hold?

UBC is able to issue U-Pass BC benefits to students on financial hold who are paying tuition in installments. Students who have fees owing from prior academic years will be prevented from claiming their U-Pass benefit until the fees owing have been paid. For more information on tuition deadlines click here.

I've registered for courses, and I was assessed for the U-Pass fee. Why does the site say I'm not eligible for next month?

If you believe you should be eligible, but are showing up as ineligible for the U-Pass BC program on TransLink’s website, check that your UBCcard (UBC ID) has not expired.  Expired cards can be replaced at ubccard.ubc.ca.  If your card has not expired, please come see our staff at the Carding office, or contact us at upassbc.info@ubc.ca

For additional information about the Compass Card, please refer to Translink's:

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