VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – It’s a way to stop some of the 12,000 riders daily who hop on the SkyTrain without paying.

TransLink will be installing its first fare gate today on its rapid transit system at the Marine Drive Canada Line station.

This woman rides on the Canada Line and buys a transit pass every month. She tells News1130 it’s about time the fare gates got installed.

“It’d be nice to see the rest of the people pay. With transit being in debt the way it is, every little bit helps right?”

This regular ticket buyer says it’s not fair for taxpayers to keep carrying the burden. “I think they should have put [the gates] in when they made the SkyTrain stations.”

TransLink estimates it loses $10-million a year thanks to fare evaders.

Chief Operating Officer Doug Kelsey says there will be less fare evasion.

“We anticipate that we’ll save somewhere between seven to $10-million per year, we don’t know the exact amount,” he says.

But the NDP says there is no business case to support this math.

If you are caught without a transit ticket or pass, the fine is $173. And new legislation brought in by the BC government earlier this year allows TransLink to use collection agencies to go after people who don’t buy tickets.

You also won’t be able to renew your driver’s license and registration if you have an outstanding fine.

You’ll see more of the fare gates go up at stations across the Lower Mainland in the next year. However, fare gates will not be installed at Metrotown and Main Street because those stations require major renovations.

TransLink isn’t saying whether it will need fewer Transit Police to check tickets after the gates are installed.

Kelsey says at first, they’ll have all kinds of staff at the new faregates to make sure everyone understands how to use them.

“To make sure people can help in the transition, not unlike what we did with the Olympics, where you have a whole bunch of new people using a new product and a system,” he explains.

He add that they’ll scale back when people start to get the hang of the new system.

As for whether the faregates will lead to layoffs?

“We will always be looking to redeploy staff, that will be something the chief transit police will have to look at, how do we ensure taxpayer value and productivity.”

He says they’ll also need officers to work on the Evergreen Line when it opens.

Transit police cost taxpayers $30-milliion a year.

(These fare gates will be installed at the Marine Drive Canada Line Station)
(Courtesy of Joanne Abshire, News1130)