Leave the change at home with new bus fare card Whistler transit sets North American first By Chris Woodall The best transit system in B.C. just got better with the introduction of a hi-tech card that makes fumbling for loose change a thing of the past. Called the TripCard, the plastic debit card can be bought in five ride, 20 ride or a month's worth of trips, then slipped into a scanner every time a rider steps on board a Whistler Transit bus. Invented by two Canadians with help from Canadian National Research Council funding, the cards are another step closer to a cash-less society and are a great improvement on magnetic strip-style cards. Because there's no magnetic strip on the back, the TripCard can't be demagnetized and they are immune to temperature changes, scratches, static electricity or the effects certain types of leathers had on magnetic strip cards. Several vendors around town will have the cards for sale. Vending machines will soon be available at the Village Gate bus stand and the Food Plus store in Creekside. The adult fares for the cards are $7 for five trips (saving about 7 per cent against the full fare), $26 for 20 rides (saving 13 per cent), and $50 for 30 days unlimited use (saving about 44 per cent). With just over one million rides a year on the transit system's 11 buses (15 by next year), Whistler Transit is "the most successful small community system in the province," according to a press release from municipal hall. Nicklaus North Golf and Country Club has climbed on board by sponsoring the $2,400 printing cost of the five-trip card. For that it gets a scenic colour shot of its links on the card, in anticipation of the souvenir value of the card for visitors. Other cards feature postcard-like vistas of the Whistler area, at least until other sponsors join in. The five-trip card is seen as a trouble-free way for hotels or B&Bs to help visitors to get around town. No more hassle for the visitor to store up a pocketful of coins — the bane of every traveller no matter what country they visit — or worry about what exactly is "one dollar and 50 cents." The bus rider simply inserts the card into the scanner mounted beside the familiar cash box at the front of the bus. Push the card in all the way. The scanner then holds the card in place while it "burns" off the trip being paid for. You can't see the burn marks, but the card can only be used for the number of rides designated for it. But even then the card has a use. It is recyclable. There will be a box at the front to collect the completed cards that will be shipped back to the manufacturer for re-processing into new TripCards. The current list of TripCard vendors includes (in the village) municipal hall, Whistler Conference & Activity Centre, North Shore Credit Union, and The Grocery Store. In Creekside, go to Whistler Chamber of Commerce or the Petro-Canada gas station. In Village North, try Mail Boxes Etc., 7-Eleven, and Slalom (1 hr.) Photo.; Whistler Foto Source in the Upper Village; the Boot Beer & Wine Store in White Gold; Meadow Park Sports Centre in Alpine Meadows; and Nesters Market in Function Junction.