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TransLink faregates designed to adapt to crowd flow

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

TransLink promises 40 users per minute, per gate will travel through the new SkyTrain faregates coming this fall, but some locals aren’t convinced. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

TransLink promises 40 users per minute, per gate will travel through the new SkyTrain faregates coming this fall, but some locals aren’t convinced. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)

TransLink is confident lineups won’t be an issue — except on special event dates — when SkyTrain faregates go into operation this fall.

The mechanical gates, which have a $100 million installation budget, are intended to catch fare cheats. They will work with a Compass Card system and promise to process up to 40 passengers through each gate per minute.

TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel expected there would only be longer lineups during rush hours at the outset of their installation until people get used to the system. To help commuters adjust, there will be a transition phase where the gates and the current method of fare checks would be used in “parallel.”

If traffic suddenly builds, operators have the ability to switch travel directions using electronic green arrows and red ‘X’ signs on the gates — similar to the counter-flow lanes on the roads in rush-hour traffic.

“That’s one thing that’s really handy,” Zabel said. “If there’s any sort of crowding, or an unforeseen event at a mall, we’ll be able to change those directions.”

According to TransLink’s plan, the highest-capacity access would be at the Metrotown station, which is expected to have 18 gates operating its opening day. However, at least 18 entry-and-exit points across the entire system — encompassing the Canada, Expo and Millennium lines — are expected to only have three faregates.

TransLink doesn’t expect any major problems in those areas.

“A lot of stations have several different entrances,” Zabel said. “Where there’s only a couple of gates, those might be smaller entrances where a lot of people might not be going anyway.”

The “natural flow” of customers also helps, he added, as passengers disperse themselves while negotiating the tunnels, stairs and escalators leading out of the stations.

With testing to be conducted this summer, commuters can expect at least three types of Compass Cards at the launch. The most common will likely be a standard adult concession, which can be loaded with pre-paid cash. There will be a similar but discounted concession card for children, students and seniors, in addition to single-use or “DayPass” tickets for both categories.

Ottawa has contributed $40 million to the installation, with Victoria and TransLink providing $30 million each.

Are you confident TransLink’s fare gates will be able to handle 40 people a minute?

Tian McDowell - Student

  • "It’s going to be pretty crowded. So far, during rush hour, it’s pretty hectic as is. I think when they start up the fare gates it’s going to be a mess during high, peak rush hours."

Sonya Garant - Home-care worker

  • "My SkyTrain use is going to be limited, only when I absolutely have to. I don’t believe there’s going to be 40 people going through there easily."

Brian Pohjola - Hazmat worker

  • "I take the train all the time. No way. They’ll be pushing over one another, oh yeah."

Crystal Walker - Restaurant manager

  • "Especially games and concerts, I think it’s going to be a huge issue. Maybe 20 (people per minute) if they’re lucky. I think we spend, as a city, taxpayers, spent a lot of money and it’s not going to work."




How will faregates affect commuter traffic?

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