June 19, 2017 9:37 pm
Updated: June 19, 2017 10:32 pm

1 year in, how are TransLink’s fare gates working out?

Mon, Jun 19: Revenue is up and fare evasion is down on Metro Vancouver’s transit network but Ted Chernecki reports on whether the massive infrastructure investment will be worth it in the long run.

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TransLink revenue is up following the installation of fare gates and the Compass Card system on the Metro Vancouver transit network while Transit Police officers are issuing fewer fare evasion tickets.

It’s been just over a year since fare gates have been fully operational and TransLink says Compass Cards are now being used for 95 per cent of transactions.

Revenue from all platforms from April 2015 to March 2016 was about $387 million. From April 2016 to March 2017, revenue was $428 million, an increase of $41 million or 10.5 per cent.

Transit blogger and Langley City Coun. Nathan Pachal said the rise in revenue can’t solely be attributed the Compass Card system and fare gates, but that they “more than break even.”

“I did a quick crunch of the numbers,” he said. “It’s about $20 million a year when you look at the total lifetime costs of the Compass system plus the operating costs and we saw there was about a $40-million increase in revenue.”

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While revenue is up, the number of tickets being handed out to fare evaders has dropped dramatically. Just over 33,000 tickets last year to 23,000 this year, a decrease of 29 per cent.

The fare gates may help prevent fare evasion at SkyTrain, SeaBus and West Coast Express stations, not on city buses. Pachal thinks, however, that the Compass Card system is keeping bus passengers honest.

“When you have a Compass Card, one of the things is there’s a psychological effect… people see people tapping and when you don’t, there’s a community thing where: ‘Oh, you’re one of those cheats’ and that’s a big deal too.

“I think the Compass Card system made a lot of sense, because that opens up honest payment, it also gives you more flexibility going forward with the distance review. I think the fare gates were just one of the things that were thrown in. Obviously, they more than break even, which is good, but if they weren’t there, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world either.”

— With files from Ted Chernecki

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