No turnstiles for SkyTrains until 2012
There will be no turnstiles at the new Canada Line stations when the rapid transit service opens Monday, and a promise to install them at all SkyTrain stations has been postponed for another three years.
In 2007, Kevin Falcon, the then B.C. transport minister, first promised turnstiles could be in place on the Lower Mainland's transit system within a year in order to crack down on fare evasion and petty crime.
Then in April, just a month before this year's provincial election campaign, Premier Gordon Campbell announced the provincial and federal governments would spend $100 million to put the gates in place by spring 2010.
But Ken Hardie, spokesman for Metro Vancouver transit authority TransLink, now says it will be at least three years before the turnstiles are installed as part of a major overhaul of the transit fare system.
"We could see turnstiles starting to appear in the system by 2012," Hardie told CBC News on Thursday.
"We hope to actually have some work done a little bit later that will lead to some contracts for not only turnstiles, but also the smart card system that complements the turnstile system."
New stations built for turnstiles
The stations for the new Canada Line were designed to accommodate the fare gates, but there was never any plan to have them in place when the line opened, Hardie said.
"The opening of a brand new line doesn't necessarily make it automatic or easy or common sense to put turnstiles in — particularly when you have a large integrated system like we have here," he said.
SkyTrain stations currently operate on a proof-of-payment system with occasional fare checks by transit police.
NDP transportation critic Harry Bains said the Liberal government made the pre-election promise to install fare gates only to score political points.
"All those decisions made and all those announcements made by the minister and this government are for political expediency rather than to benefit the public," Bains said.
Transportation Minister Shirley Bond did not return calls for comment on why the turnstiles have been delayed.
After four years of construction, the Canada Line will open more than three months ahead of schedule on Monday, connecting downtown Vancouver with Richmond and Vancouver International Airport by rail.
Travel on the line will be free for opening day, though bikes will not be permitted on that day only.