Construction of the new SkyTrain turnstiles was kicked off by a crew of politicians at the Commercial-Broadway Station on Tuesday morning.

TransLink CEO Ian Jarvis said it will take about 18 months to install about 400 gates, including 150 accessible gates for wheelchairs and strollers, throughout the 49 stations in the system.

The total cost of the gates is estimated at $100 million. The province is paying about $40 million and the federal government is paying $30 million of the cost, with the rest of the cost coming out of TransLink's existing budget.

The gates are designed to work with TransLink's new smart-card system called the Compass card which will work throughout the entire regional transit system, including Coast Mountain buses, the SeaBus and the WestCoast Express.

The Compass smart-card system is expected to cost an additional $70 million.

TransLink estimates it loses  more than $7 million a year through fare evasion, but one of the main reasons for installing the new system has been demands to make the system safer.  

Currently, commuters can walk onto the platforms at stations without having to prove they have paid the fare, but transit police do conduct random checks for tickets.