SkyTrain Turnstile debate

To install or not install turnstiles at SkyTrain stations.  There seems to be a debate on about this.  Several articles have come out recently in the media and on blogs

There are obvious reasons for having gates and turnstiles:

  • Better control of unwanted passengers
  • Ability to count the number of passengers entering and leaving the system
  • Possible implementation of a new pay-by-distance system
  • Implementation of a smart card system made possible with gates
  • Better public perception of safety and fare control

Critics have also got their points:

  • Annual operational costs of turnstiles expected to be more than amount of revenue lost through current fare evasion ($20 million is one number that was batted around as potential yearly cost of maintaining turnstiles compared to the $5-6 million lost according to PWC’s study)
  • Slows down transfers and entry into stations
  • Nothing replaces having an actual physical presence in the stations in terms of safety in and around stations.  Vancouver-Kingsway MLA, Adrian Dix (NDP) has been calling for this for a long time.
  • New PriceWaterhouseCooper study says that fare evasion is actually dropping, so are gates necessary.
  • Turnstiles and gates do not reduce crimes such as pickpocketing and assaults on transit systems.  A criminal could still pay the fare and carry out crimes.
  • All Expo Line stations must be retrofitted to accommodate gates.  This may require expensive expansion of some stations.  All Millennium Line stations were designed to eventually have gates built in.

I personally like Smart Cards, and you need gates to operate Smart Cards, but I do have reservations about the cost of setting up and running the gates.  For a city of 2 million people, I’m not sure this is the right solution for us right now.  Cities like New York, London, and Hong Kong, the scale of economics make sense, but I’m not sure the cost is worth it given Vancouver’s small population.



  1. The real story about turnstiles/fare-gates is that Gordon Campbell’s old crony, Ken Dobel, is a lobbyist for Cubit Industries, who are trying to sell a fare-gate system to Vancouver.

    Now good old pal Kenny would be a very poor lobbyist indeed if he could not deliver the goods.

    The whole debate just doesn’t pass the ‘smell test.”

  2. You do not need gates to implement a smart card system. The Docklands Light Railway in London is on the Oyster system but has no barriers.

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