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The Compass Card is upon us – all of us, not just the science fictiony-sounding beta testers any more. But before you sign up for your new card and slap down your completely refundable six dollars, you may want to have a look at the eight pages of Terms and Conditions of Use (in excruciatingly tiny print) that accompany your purchase.

I know – who has the time? That's why, as a public service, I have boiled it all down to what you need to know, and provided you with a surefire mnemonic device that will assist you in recalling important facts. The following summary may be sung to the tune of Don McLean's American Pie.

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A long long time ago,
I can still remember how
The province sent a press release
Fare gates were coming to SkyTrain
They'd be installed with little pain
And riding transit would be a breeze
But 20-12 it came and went,
The budget had been overspent
The fare gates gathered dust
The whole thing was a bust
I can't remember if I cried
When the terms and conditions I first spied
But something irked me deep inside
The day FareSavers died

So bye-bye to my bus ticket guy
I loaded up my Compass Card on the first try
Stored value can't be more than 175
I can top up the card's value online
I can top up the card's value online

Did you get a generic card
And did you give the fine print much regard?
You can read it on the Web
Have you been under the impression
That TransLink can, at its discretion
Charge you fees that you can't question?
And the only way they'll compensate
For a period pass, like a monthly rate
Is if the whole system is razed
For three consecutive business days
And if your generic card is stolen or lost
They'll replace it but you will pay the cost
Check the back you'll see that it's embossed,
The day that Compass came
I started singin'

(Chorus begins)

Bye-bye to my bus ticket guy
I loaded up my Compass Card on the first try
Stored value can't be more than 175
I can top up the card's value online
I can top up the card's value online

(Chorus ends)

Now for eight years, we've been waiting for this
And a bunch of deadlines have been missed
But that's not how it should have been
When Kevin Falcon was the transit guy
There were two reports that said it wouldn't fly
That it would cost more money than it would save
But they went ahead with it anyway
Citing safety and security
There were lots of turns and twists
The gates would stop those terrorists
But I digress – back to the terms of use
Didn't tap out? There's no excuse
We built this system to confuse
The day that Compass came
We were singin'

(Chorus)

Helter Skelter in a summer swelter,
The Expo Line stalled far from shelter,
Two hours later tempers flaring fast
Don't expect a refund for that,
Especially if you walk back on the track
You'll end up on the sidelines in a cast
Now on page eight there is some boilerplate
Warning of viruses and other fates
Riots and Acts of God
Accidents and fraud
And as we get down to the end,
We see TransLink unwilling to bend
Follow the rules or be condemned
The day that Compass came
We started singin'

(Chorus)

Privacy is another song
That policy's just two pages long
But your information will be shared
And if you register your card
You'll find the refunds a lot less hard
But you might end up getting lots of spam
And so now as you find your way
Remember why we're here today
The system wasn't broken
We could have gone with tokens
And the ones who insisted on the change
Campbell, Falcon – it's a little strange
They've both gone back now to the range
The day that Compass came
And they were singin'

Bye-bye to my bus ticket guy
I loaded up my Compass Card on the first try
Stored value can't be more than 175
I can top up the card's value online
I can top up the card's value online