Vancouver Province: It’s simple: Put in the turnstiles

November 25, 2009

Vancouver Province Editorial

TransLink, our toothless regional transportation agency, just doesn’t seem to get it. It keeps saying it is starved of cash and needs to raise more money from metro residents.

Yet it continues to lose badly needed funding because it is unwilling to tackle the continuing problem of widespread fare evasion.

Not only are freeloaders costing the transit system millions of dollars annually in unpaid fares, they’re also avoiding paying millions in fines levied against them by transit police.

As Province reporter Frank Luba notes, 14,400 tickets were handed out last year, of which 11,300 went unpaid.

And as three Richmond city politicians have declared, honest riders shouldn’t have to fork out any more until fare cheats are forced to cough up what they owe.

On Tuesday, Richmond councillors Derek Dang, Bill McNulty and Ken Johnston called on TransLink finally to install fare gates, as promised, on SkyTrain stations. Such turnstiles would not only result in the collection of millions more dollars, they’d also improve law-abiding folks’ sense of security.

The agency’s stubborn refusal to put in turnstiles erodes public confidence in our regional transit system. It also curbs ridership when we should be boosting it — to reduce traffic on our heavily clogged roads.

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