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Zapf, Alvarez Join Campaign To ‘Fix’ MTS Compass Card

Photo by Steve Walsh

San Diego Councilman David Alvarez speaks at a news conference about the need to improve the Metropolitan Transit System's Compass Card, March 8, 2016. With him are Colin Parent, policy advocate for Circulate San Diego, and Councilwoman Lori Zapf.

Aired 3/9/16 on KPBS News.

San Diego council members David Alvarez and Lori Zapf, both on the Metropolitan Transit System board, are working with Circulate San Diego to "fix the Compass Card" by making it more secure and user-friendly.

Two San Diego City Council members Tuesday joined an organized campaign to "fix the Compass Card" by making it more secure and user-friendly.

The council members, David Alvarez and Lori Zapf, are both on the board of directors of the Metropolitan Transit System, which operates the Compass Card system. KPBS first reported on the system's shortcomings, including its lack of stored value and its substandard data security.

Alvarez and Zapf sent a letter to MTS CEO Paul Jablonski last week urging him to speed up improvements to the Compass Card. Their announcement on Tuesday was in support of a campaign organized by the transit advocacy group Circulate San Diego.

"We think we can do better," Alvarez told reporters at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. "We're really committed to ensuring that our public transportation system is the best that it can be, so that the most number of people as possible can take advantage of it."

MTS has said it is already working on replacing its fare collection system with one that is both more functional and compliant with industry standards for data security.

"We have made significant progress," Jablonksi wrote in an e-mail to board members on Thursday. "We will make a full presentation to the board at its March meeting to fully brief you on our progress and next steps."

The presentation will be in closed session and not open to the public. An MTS spokesman said the report would cover sensitive details of the system's security gaps, and that discussing those details in public would make the system more vulnerable to cybercriminals.

The MTS board meets at 9 a.m. March 17 at 1255 Imperial Ave. in downtown San Diego.

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