TransLink expects to save $7 million to $10 million annually once fare gates are in place at every SkyTrain and Canada Line station and SeaBus platform.
Doug Kelsey, TransLink CEO, made the announcement at the official unveiling of Vancouver’s first fare gate at Marine Drive station Monday.
By 2013, similar structures will be installed at every SkyTrain station and SeaBus platform, he told reporters.
The event marked an end to an honour system that has lasted for 35 years.
But not every transit rider has been honest.
TransLink estimates it loses $7 million annually in fare evasion – and that’s just on the SkyTrain. Including loses from fare evasion on the SeaBus and TransLink’s 1,600 buses brings that number to $14.5 million.
Fare evasion is so rampant that along Broadway, transit-goers have taken to calling the 99 B-Line the “99 Free-Line.”
Kelsey said he has confidence the gates will reduce the number of free rides, but he is realistic.
With a fare gate standing at just over a metre high, it is certainly no Trojan wall.
“You’ve got to seriously jump over these. Can people do that? Yeah they can,” he said. “But you also want to have an open system as much as possible. … This is not a prison.”
Kelsey said the estimated savings will come from fewer evasions and increased ridership.
Once the public feels confident everyone is paying the proper fare, they will use public transit more, he said.
TransLink and the federal government will each chip in $30 million of the $100 million it costs to install the gates, and the province will contribute $40 million.
The gates will also allow for the implementation of Compass Cards, which will bring the total cost of the project to $170 million. The remaining $100 million will be covered by TransLink.