Transit fare gates need to go in sooner

Editor:

I am writing to follow-up on the disturbing new figures released by the Vancouver Sun showing high levels of fare evasion on rapid transit lines, including the Canada Line.

In 2009 alone, 24,000 people were caught riding the transit system without having paid their fares – including 550 fare cheats on the Canada Line in its first five months of service.

These are appalling statistics, especially when you consider these are only the people caught during the rare occasion of a Translink fare check. I hear from transit riders daily who tell me they go days, if not weeks, without ever being asked to show proof of a paid fare.

I’ve personally seen people without monthly passes walking past ticket purchase machines and hopping onto trains with Canada Line ‘green jacket’ staff watching the entire way – and yet doing nothing to stop it. The honour system is not working.

Let’s be clear. Richmond First Councillors have been publicly calling for the installation of fare gates at Canada Line and rapid transit stations since 2006. Thankfully, in part to that consistent pressure, Translink will install turnstiles on all rapid transit lines by the Spring of 2013 – spurred on by funding from the BC Government.

But 2013 is still a long way off, and according to Translink’s own lowball figures, they’re going to lose anywhere between $21 million and $30 million over that time frame in fare evasion. I firmly believe the timeline for turnstile installation needs to be bumped up, and moreover, things need to change before this Fall’s transit crunch to ensure fare checks are routine, not the exception, at each Canada Line station.

So while Translink pleads poverty, increases fares, and muses about putting tolls on the Knight Street Bridge, they’re missing the dollars right at their doorstep. As a taxpayer, that’s an outrageous proposition, and I implore Translink to take action today.

Bill McNulty
Richmond First Councillor

Read the published letter online in the Richmond Review at: http://www.bclocalnews.com/richmond_southdelta/richmondreview/opinion/letters/100156719.html

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