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First fare gate hits SkyTrain station

By Tyler Orton, 24 Hours Vancouver

The installation of the first fare gate at Marine Drive SkyTrain Station in Vancouver was unveiled Monday. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

The installation of the first fare gate at Marine Drive SkyTrain Station in Vancouver was unveiled Monday. (CARMINE MARINELLI, 24 HOURS)

Fare evaders better start practising their jumping skills if they want to avoid paying for SkyTrain trips after TransLink installed its first fare gate Monday at the Marine Drive station.

The waist-high machines, which won't be operational until spring 2013, require passengers to swipe a magnetic Compass card over the gate to enter and exit platforms.

Money will then be deducted from the card based on how many zones the person has travelled upon exiting.

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie told 24 hours ensuring passengers pay the correct amount will help generate about $4 million in additional revenue annually.

"The gate combined with the Compass card system . will tie up the loose ends and help us collect the appropriate fare, deal with fare evasion and make things simpler for the customers."

The Main Street and Metrotown stations will not initially have fare gates installed due to extensive renovations needed on those platforms.

Hardie said passengers travelling between the two stops will be expected to swipe Compass cards over machines similar to ticket validators; extra personnel would be assigned to those stations.

Transit police chief Neil Dubord said an estimated 4% to 5.5% of daily commuters across the entire transit network don't pay. In 2011, transit police issued 57,000 fare evasion tickets.

Doug Kelsey, TransLink's chief operating officer, said certain people will still find ways to compromise the system in spite of the gate installations.

He added the turnstiles would result in $7 million to $10 million in savings annually. Operating costs, however, are estimated at $30 million a year.

Costs for the fare-gate equipment and station improvements are pegged at $100 million, with the federal government contributing $40 million and the province supplying $30 million.

TransLink is responsible for the remainder of the project costs that include significant renovations to the Expo Line and minor adjustments to the Millennium and Canada lines.

In total, 265 gates will be installed throughout the SkyTrain system.


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