Fare cheats, your time is up.
That's the message that TransLink is sending with the installation of fare gates, which began Monday at Marine Drive station in South Vancouver, as part of a strategy to "reduce fare evasion and increase security on Metro Vancouver's transit system."
"The new faregates will make SkyTrain service safer and more secure for commuters," Wai Young, the MP for Vancouver South, said in a news release.
Fare gates are slated for all of TransLink's Canada, Expo and Millennium Line stations as part of a program that's expected to cost up to $171 million, the Vancouver Sun reports. The provincial government has kicked in $40 million for the program while the feds have contributed $30 million.
TransLink expects to bring about $12.4 million in revenue annually through the system, including an additional $7.1 million it estimates it currently loses to fare evasion annually. The system will be transitioned into operation in the spring of 2013 and is expected to be in full operation in the fall of 2013.
There remain questions as to whether or not the fare gates will recoup the money TransLink is currently losing to fare cheats. As The Province reports...
TransLink did audits in 2004 and 2008 that showed annual losses to fare evasion on the rapid transit system were between $5 million and $9 million. But another TransLink report from 2005 showed that yearly operations and installation costs for the system amortized over 20 years would be $30 million annually.
The Province also reports that the busy Main Street and Metrotown stations would not have fare gates installed when the system is operational. Both systems require major renovations to permit them.
News1130 reports that the provincial government has also passed legislation permitting TransLink to use collection agencies to go after unpaid fines. The legislation also mandates that fare evaders can't get their driver's licenses or registrations renewed if they have outstanding fines.
(Scroll to 2:36 to see how easy it is to board a Skytrain without fare gates)