03/02/2016 19:02 EST | Updated 03/03/2017 00:12 EST

TransLink can't close gates until access issues addressed says minister

The provincial government says TransLink can't close fare gates until it addresses accessibility issues for those who aren't able to open the gates by tapping in and tapping out with a Compass card or ticket.

On Tuesday the transit authority said the gates at its SkyTrain stations and SeaBus terminals will all close by April 8. It offered station assistance service to help people with mobility issues.

"Our message to them is you have to assure unfettered access to every person no matter what their circumstance, whether they're seniors or persons with disabilities," said Peter Fassbender, the minister responsible for TransLink 

"If they don't have a solution that works for all of those people, they have to have a gate that is open." 

TransLink's station assistance service would require people with disabilities who aren't able to open the gates to call ahead and ask attendants to take them through.

The regional transportation provider's $170-million fare gates system was originally scheduled to be in place in 2010 and has suffered multiple setbacks. 

TransLink argued in the past that it needed to install the gates to improve security and make stations safer for customers, and to reduce the annual estimated losses of more than $7 million due to fare evasion.