Thursday, July 24, 2008

Turnstiles for Skytrain - What Do You Think?

Over the past 24 hours there has been a firestorm of controversy as Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon and TransLink disagreed on the installation of turnstiles to fight fare evasion, after a PriceWaterhouseCoopers report. Late yesterday TransLink issued a statement to the media that does not appear in their online press releases. In that statement they seemed to back away from their position that turnstiles were not required.

Minister Falcon insists that it is not simply a matter of fare evasion, more than it is about passenger safety and keeping undesirables off the system and stations. Others say that more attendants and transit police around the stations would curb the problems, and the turnstile money could be better used for this purpose.

Even some of the South Fraser OnTrax membership is divided on this issue. For instance, Nathan is against the turnstile plan, while as a physical security consultant, I see the case for them. I also believe the turnstiles could contribute to enhanced security.

I also realize that many of these undesirables hang out at the exits to Skytrain and buses and ask people for their tickets. Its common practice for people to give them their old tickets as well. Unless enforcement staff are visibly present at the stations, I see this practice of loitering around exits increasing with the turnstile installation, hence the SmartCard proposal.

So as our loyal readers, what do you think? Its open season, so post your comments here.

4 comments:

Brandon said...

When I lived in Langley and occasionally traveled to Vancouver I argued for turnstiles. Not for security reasons but because I didn't believe in the 'honesty' system. I went to Sydney and turn stiles seemed to work for them. Same in Montreal. However, I have since been convinced that they're too expensive and don't keep the 'unwanted' off the trains.
I hate drunk people on the train next too me. But they have money to buy both booze and a bus pass. But, Skytrain attendants are easily called and they are told to restrain themselves. Money is better spent elsewhere like improvements to stations with low lighting and blind spots. Also, imagine putting turnstiles at Broadway station? Where would you put them and how would you deal with the ensuing chaos/queues? Expo era stations weren't build for turnstiles.

Jordan Bateman said...

If you want Joe or Jane Average to feel safe and consider using the train more often--especially at night--then gates are the way to go.

Brandon said...

Can't say that you won me over with that argument.

According to Tranlink's spare documents, riders on the millennium line were asked what would make them feel more secure and 82% said 'More staff.' Also, around 50% of riders surveyed (again Millennium line) said that their feeling of personal security inside the stations were better than or the same as "if they were walking to or from a store or restaurant."

erika said...

I've held a strong position against turnstiles from the get-go. Let's think of it this way: if you're in a crisis, a turnstile is not going to come up and help you. Turnstiles will require staff to attend to them, but this is staff time that could be better used making people feel safer. The most important place to provide security, according to surveys and that includes how I feel, is outside of stations. It's unfortunate that SkyTrain itself makes shadows and decreases the ability for people on the street to monitor what goes on inside stations, so there's one big disadvantage versus LRT. As far as undesirables go, as someone else recently pointed out, sketchy people who make me feel insecure are NOT fare evaders; they have their own ticket or their own pass. If people really want to cause havoc, a ticket doesn't cost that much. SmartCards, I think, will be just as much a deterrent for tourists and seldom-users as for "undesirables." Personally, an "undesirable" is someone who is unhygienic, or smells strongly of cigarettes, who spouts profanities to his buddy, or who talks way too loudly about way to personal a topic on her cell phone. These are regular users. Staff, meanwhile, would be there for the latter two to remind them of etiquette. (Not much we can do about people who never shower. ;) ) Turnstiles are a physical obstacle to the general flow of traffic and after having used the SkyTrain at King George in morning rush hour for 2 years, the last thing I'd want to see is the backlog of people trying to get through there in a hurry. Same with the SmartCard ticket-in, ticket-out system. When you have 30 seconds to get from Train to Bus, you don't want to stop to fiddle with a machine or wait for other people to go through. What happens if it breaks and you have to wait for staff? What if your bus is every hour and you miss it? Again: more staff, not turnstiles. For once, let's not give Falcon what he wants... which is to make pretty with his friends who have money.