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Miss604 Poll: Skytrain Fare Enforcement

November 9th, 2007 @ 11:30am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Since the last two Miss604 Polls [1][2] were transit related, why not continue the theme.

In the news this morning is the subject of turnstiles at Skytrain stations. I don’t know about you but two things I always thought were pretty cool were a) the honor system on Skytrain and b) there’s no one driving the train.


Photo credit: John Bollwitt on Flickr

Sure, it sucks when you pay over $4 to go three zones and someone can just hop on without a ticket at their leisure and milk the system for free, but would the planned turnstiles be effective? I have many questions…

Apparently the Skytrain is a vehicle for crime, allowing all those hooligans from Surrey easy access to the pristine Vancouver stations, so would tougher enforcement of fare payment reduce this risk? Isn’t that why they shelled out all that money to get those Skytrain cops some guns?

Honestly, it wouldn’t bother me either way – to keep the fare-checking the same or to have fun little turnstiles that eat your ticket and spit it out the other side. I know I always pay, in many ways, for riding transit in the region so whatever, do what you gotta do Translink, but what about those that can’t?

Here are some reactions so far:

One Skytrain user says it’s about time already for these security measures. And another says he believes it would stop fare evaders.

Turnstiles will be in place at all stations before the 2010 Games and commuters will be able to pay with a smart card, which can be loaded online. [News1130]

Smart cards? NOW we’re talkin‘.

One might think most fare paying Skytrain riders would generally be supportive of the plan.

But while those getting off the train here this morning aren’t opposed to the move, they also aren’t optimistic about whether it will work.

“Do you think it will work? Cut down on fare evasion? — No, well you’ve got to think of the poor. They can’t afford anything.”

“If you look at other jurisdictions where they have turnstiles, they actually have as much or more fare evasion then we do.”

So what about safety? Will turnstiles make riders feel safer?

“No, well I don’t think it would make any difference to safety.” [CKNW]

It’s obvious that there are mixed reactions but is this what Translink should be spending their money on? Put in your two cents below.

[Poll Closed]

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16 comments

  1. Allen Pike says:

    Very little of Translink’s income comes from fares, and very few people who evade fares now would start paying because of turnstiles. On the other hand, installing them and maintaining them is expensive. There’s a reason we don’t have turnstiles already – it will cost more than it will bring in. Then, those of us who are daily paying users of the system get to wait in line to go through the turnstile and miss our train. I’d pay (slightly) more in order to not have them.

  2. Meg says:

    It’s pretty easy to jump a turnstile. :-) I pay through the nose to use Transit and don’t even use the SkyTrain, but I think turnstiles are just a big waste of money and a lame solution to the issues they’ve raised.

  3. The reason turnstiles were not incorporated into the final Millenium Line stations (they were there in the planning stages) is because they turned out not to be economic.

    Only earlier this week, the head of Translink was saying that the numbers suggested that the turnstiles’ TCO would be about five times the revenue gained. But now they’re talking about, essentially, a PPP contract.

    Allen: not sure what qualifies as “very little” in your opinion, but about 40% of Translink’s annual revenue comes from fares. ($292M/$792M in 2005, according to this pdf.

    The anecdote I can contribute is that SkyTrain in particular pretty much pays for its operating costs (not the very considerable capital costs of constructing the system in the first place, though) out of its fares. The buses do not fare as well (sorry).

    Alas, perfect enforcement on Skytrain would mean increasing revenue on that part of the system by about 10%, minus the costs of enforcement, which in the last estimate were considerably higher than the value of the lost revenue. So Allen’s conclusion stands.

    I strongly suspect the biggest support for turnstiles comes from people who don’t normally ride Skytrain.

    For my part, I think it’s a very boring calculation: use the enforcement method that maximizes revenue.

  4. Adelaide says:

    Well, I figure that they probably would have gotten the turnstiles put in to the Millenium Line if they didn’t shell out the money for artist/architects to decorate each station in a different theme. Now, I’m just assuming they paid those people. And if they did, I think that was the stupidest thing ever. The stations are not art galleries. People just want to get to where they’re going.

  5. bz says:

    I love Minister Falcon “came up with the idea” after a trip to Europe.

    Many thousands of people “came up with the idea” 21 years ago. Why turnstiles weren’t put in when the damn thing was built is BEYOND ME.

  6. Tawcan says:

    In Hannover Germany they’d hire unemployed ppl to hop on the trams and check everyone for tickets. To make it more effective they’d actually stop the trams half way between stops so nobody could get off.

    I think turnstiles is a good idea, you should pay for the service.

  7. Jordan says:

    While I agree with Ryan (the cheapest way to enforce payment should be the way) as a daily Skytrain traveler, I support the idea in principle. Basically, I just want to know that paying for my monthly pass in the first place was worthwhile. (I haven’t been checked in months, since they don’t bother checking during the peak hours, when it’s busiest)

    I took the TTC subway in Toronto for a year, and there’s no such thing as not paying there; in part because they have manned booths as well as turnstiles. Since we’re used to buying our long term tickets at 7-11 and Shoppers, that shouldn’t be necessary here.

    For what it’s worth, I like the unique stations on the Millennium Line too. My fave is Lougheed, which looks like a Japanese temple.

  8. Tyler Ingram says:

    Would turn styles help lower crime in the areas though? Like Meg said they can be somewhat easy to jump over.

    When I worked for a large retail company they were frowning upon the skytrain station being built near them because it increases crime (or so they said). They could steal from one store, hop on the train and goto the next store down the line and ‘return’ they item they no longer needed by ‘lost’ the receipt for. lol Turnstiles might hinder that but not really.

    Though I took thought it was cool that you could just catch one of the trains without having to go through a turnstile. So if you were rushing to get to the train (not that you have to wait really long for the next one) there were not really any obstacles in your way.

    Then like other said: the cost of implementation would exceed those of revenue generated. Instead of trying to catch people from not buying their ticket, why not spend the money on something else Translink needs to fix that would benefit all users of their system?

  9. Bradley says:

    just increase the fines

    and more transit profiling! discrimination against hooliganish looking people is ok by me!

  10. Raul says:

    I just left a comment on Stephen Rees’ blog mentioning that Mexico City’s metro system (one of the best in the world, in my humble opinion) has very little fare evasion. Two reasons, in my view (don’t have the quantitative data to back up my claim but just from experience using it).

    a). There are cops at every station and every turnstile. Fail to pay your fare, go to jail. Simple as that.

    b). The price for a trip is ridiculously low ($0.10, that’s 10 cents of a Canadian dollar, or one Mexican peso).

    I personally love the honor system, but I have been witness to one too many incidents of fare evasion.

  11. Adelaide: I doubt many would agree with your opinion of having a simple, set design for all stations. The Millennium Line stations have won several architectural awards, and they are incredibly beautiful compared to most rail systems in North America. One could make the comparison between a “just get going” and “well designed” -> The old SkyTrain cars and the new ones.

  12. […] really hate rants, but reading all the stories today about this, I can’t help but make sure some facts here are more […]

  13. Ugh. Turnstiles just seems so…. 1970s and unVancouver. Do we have any hard data on exactly how many people we share the train with, who have not paid? I personally don’t care all that much if it’s, say under 5% of the users of the transit. And what percentage of those people would suddenly become happy-fare-payers should we said turnstiles? I’d rather pay more, avoid the turnstiles and maybe have more spot checks. Yes to honour systems. No to regressing back 20 years.

  14. fotoeins says:

    In Germany, entry into all urban-transport vehicles is possible through all doors. Plainclothed transit officers will typically wait until tram/bus/U-Bahn/S-Bahn doors are closed when they announce “Fahrscheine, bitte” (tickets, please). On-the-spot fines usually start at around 40 Euros. On Deutsche-Bahn long-distance trains, fare-checks usually occur about 15-20 minutes after departure. However, I’ve been on morning ICE trains between Frankfurt am Main and Mannheim without a fare-check, because the high-speed trip between these two major transfer points is only 30 minutes, and the DB-employees may not have enough time to cover all cars in that time.

    The German verb “kontrollieren” means “to check”, or in this context “to be fare-checked”, which prompts the oft-asked question among ex-pats: “have you ever been ‘controlled’ on the tram/bus/train?”

  15. […] for sure). I would rather that we inspire people – to be curious, to listen and learn honestly, to ask each other questions, to have fun, to get involved because it is fun – then make the decision themselves, whether to […]

  16. […] wrote about possible turnstiles in SkyTrain stations back in November of 2007 and also linked back to where I mentioned that a smartcard system would be […]

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Forbidden Stanley Park Trek, 1 Year Later
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Sea Wall, La Nina, and 1996 calling