LETTER: TransLink ponders‘Smart Cards’

The headline in your Nov. 9 article, “SkyTrain barriers unlikely,” doesn’t quite accurately describe TransLink’s approach to turnstiles.

The key word is ‘barrier,’ which to most people suggests some form of physical gate that a SkyTrain customer would have to go through at the station. This is what many people visualize when the word ‘turnstile’ is mentioned.

However, given the ticket concourse design of our old Expo Line stations it would be difficult to install enough of this type of turnstile to prevent major bottlenecks of passengers trying to get through them.

There is another type of turnstile that can be used with the so-called “Smart Cards” that TransLink wants to bring in to replace the current transit fare system. Instead of a physical barrier, they would be electronic and could signal if someone passes through without tapping their Smart Card on the reader pad to pay for their trip.

A Smart Card system attached to TransLink’s ticket machines and fare boxes would give us the flexibility we need to set transit fares according to the length of the trip, something far better and fairer than the current Fare Zone set-up. This is the main reason TransLink is planning to introduce Smart Cards.

Electronic turnstiles operated by Smart Cards would reduce some forms of fare evasion, and Minister Falcon is right when he notes that some of the people who seem to enjoy conducting themselves in a disorderly fashion will not pay for the privilege of doing it on transit. It’s important to note that introducing any type of turnstile system means increasing the staff on hand at the stations to monitor their operation, and more uniformed presence has the biggest impact on fare evasion, safety and security.

The GVTA Police Service is in the midst of a major expansion now and there has been an increase in the number of transit security guards. In addition, TransLink is working on a large number of projects with the federal government to strengthen security on the rapid transit system.

Ken Hardie

TransLink Communication

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