The new faregate system TransLink plans to have operational in 2013 has been in the works for several years now but there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the project.
No clear answer to questions of potential fare increases
When asked if fares would have to increase in order to fund for the faregate system upgrade, Derek Zabel, spokesperson for Coast Mountain Bus Co., was unsure. “Those discussions are underway,” he said, but failed to speculate on when a decision would be made.
The main goal of the faregate project, which is estimated to cost $171 million, is to prevent people riding for free.
Fare evasions down as security inspections increase in frequency
Zabel admits that fare evasion has decreased, though security inspections have gone up. “In September 2011, there were 164,000 checks and 5,000 tickets issued. In [September] 2012 there were 240,000 checks and 2,900 tickets.” He attributes the decreased rate of evasion to people being more aware of the potential of getting caught.
Given that fare evasion is down, some question why TransLink is going ahead with the project, especially given their current budgetary problems. Last month TransLink announced a three-year plan to cut cost and boost revenue, including service cuts affecting less busy lines and off-peak hours.
Funding for the project coming from multiple sources, including federal and provincial government
Zabel says the faregate project is going ahead because the government has agreed to help fund it. When asked how much the government was contributing, Zabel wasn’t sure. According to a press release on TransLink’s website dated January 2011, the provincial government is providing $40-million and the federal government is providing “up to” $30-million. However, this still leaves TransLink to fund the remaining $100-million.
“Everything is migrating towards the Compass Card,” Zabel said. “It’s a reloadable, one-time approach that can be used anywhere on transit.” He explained that users can load their cards similar to how one would load a reusable gift card, either online, by phone or in person. The fare gates will be installed in SkyTrain, Canada Line and Seabus stations.
The future of the U-Pass system
Zabel says that Langara students will still be able to use their U-Pass, but it will be integrated into the new system.
Langara students currently pay $120 for their U-Pass per semester. This price is guaranteed until March 31, 2013.
Reported by Gillian Hames