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Translink Buzzer Blog

The costs of fare evasion

A Transit Police Officer and SkyTrain Attendant at work

Fare evasion is one of those perennial themes I come across when I scan our Twitter channel, Facebook page and various blogs and forums for TransLink related content. Here’s a couple of examples:

“Vancouver is probably the only city in the world that doesn’t have faregates. Trusting everyone to pay obviously isn’t working.” – from Facebook

@translink Thanks for the free bus ride! Keep it up! – from Twitter

The subject is going to be addressed by CKNW on Thursday, February 9 as part of their Waste Patrol series. Tracking fare evasion on the system is complicated and an issue that all transit authorities face. Refusing to pay for transit is not only a loss in revenue for TransLink, but we believe it is a form of theft and in some cases, a safety risk. Let’s take a closer look at these issues:

How much money is lost due to fare evasion

TransLink has had two independent audits conducted into our method of estimating fare evasion – one in 2002 by KPMG and the other released in 2008 by PricewaterhouseCoopers. Both confirmed that TransLink’s fare audit methodology is sound. These studies marked system-wide fare evasion at 4.8 per cent and 2.5 per cent, respectively. The PriceWaterhouseCoopers audit noted that perceived fare evasion is 10 times worse than actual fare evasion. The audit noted that:

“Periodically, the media releases articles indicating that evasion is widespread, although few of these provide specific rates of evasion supporting those assertions. These reports have the ability to affect public perception in this regard and … affect the ability of an individual to rationalize fare evasion. In contrast to the media, our findings show only moderate evasion levels.”

Our internal audits show that fare evasion rates across the system are between four and six per cent, meaning that 94 to 96 per cent of customers pay their full fare. The lost revenues for TransLink associated with fare evasion is approximately $18 million a year. In 2010, fare revenue totaled $412 million, so the actual loss is less than 5 per cent.

Mode of transportation 2002 KPMG Audit 2008 PWC Audit
SkyTrain 6.3% 5.4%
Bus 2.6% 1.6%
SeaBus 3.9% 4.2%
West Coast Express N/A 1.1%
System-wide 4.8% 2.5%

What constitutes fare evasion?

When TransLink tracks fare evasion, we don’t just look at those who refuse to pay the fare while using TransLink’s services. Those that pay partial fares are also fare evading, such as those:

  • Who carry FareSaver cards but don’t validate them
  • Who have a FareCard, but haven’t scratched their zone off, or have scratched off the wrong zone or more than one zone
  • Who have a one or two zone FareCard, but haven’t added the additional fare required to travel within or across other zones
  • Who hold a concession FareCard, but aren’t eligible for concession rates

Fare evasion is theft

When you go to a store and don’t pay, you’re shoplifting or stealing. Not paying for your bus, SkyTrain, West Coast Express or SeaBus is therefore also theft. TransLink puts money and resources into reducing the amount of this type of theft. We conduct random audits throughout the system to check fares, encourage fare compliance and where necessary, issue tickets. While these audits can take place anywhere on the system, a focus is maintained on the most heavily-travelled bus and SkyTrain routes.

As a result of the audits, we’ve been able to reduce evasion rates in key areas.  In fall 2011, we implemented a comprehensive security campaign at SeaBus after random audits showed an unacceptable level of fare evasion, in particular with customers that were paying only one zone fares when they were traveling two zones. Since the program got underway:

  • fare evasion on SeaBus has decreased considerably (to less than 3 per cent)
  • the number of interactions at ticket vending machines has increased, and
  • the average transaction amount indicates that customers are adding the appropriate amount to their fares

In late summer/early fall 2011, we campaigned at Commercial-Broadway to address fare evasion on the 99 BLine, where all-door boarding is in use. Since then:

  • Fare evasion decreased from 7 per cent to less than 2 per cent and continues to improve

Compass card and faregates

In 2013, TransLink the Compass card and faregates will be introduced system wide. Among other benefits, this new system will help reduce fare evasion.

Customers will not be able to access train platforms without tapping-on with a valid fare to pass through the gates at SkyTrain stations. They will need to tap their Compass cards when they board and exit the buses; those without a valid fare will get both an audible and visual indicator that they aren’t in compliance. We believe that the project will reduce fare evasion, resulting in nearly $7 million in annual savings.

Since customers will need to tap on when boarding and tap off when exiting, the proper fare will be deducted from the card according to the number of zones covered in the trip. This will eliminate issues where customers, either accidentally or purposely, travel into more zones than the ticket they purchased allows. Issues of customers not validating Day Passes or FareSavers will be eliminated, as will the situation where people give away their unexpired FareSaver ticket or transfer. In addition to reducing fare evasion, the new system will hopefully change the perception that fare evasion, particularly on SkyTrain, is a rampant issue.

Operator safety

When someone is caught shoplifting there can be safety concerns for store employees. The same can be said about someone refusing to pay to take the bus or other forms of transit. The primary role of our operators is to safely operate the vehicles they’re driving. In 2011, there were 145 assaults on CMBC bus drivers. Twenty nine of those assaults were the result of a fare dispute, while others listed under other categories – such as “belligerent passenger” incidents – may also have involved a fare dispute.

Due to fare-evasion related assaults, Coast Mountain Bus Company has gradually changed its training policy to shift away from fare enforcement and towards assisting with fare collection. This involves requesting compliance from customers who refuse to pay their fare, reminding them of the correct fare and advising them that, should they be caught in a fare paid zone without proof of payment, they are subject to a fine. Operators are trained to assess the behavior of customers and determine whether it would be in the best interests of the other customers to pursue one non-paying customer for the fare. If a passenger refuses to pay a fare, the operator can enter “fare not paid” into the bus communications system, which is then compiled electronically.

Transit Police and Transit Security

Transit Police are responsible first and foremost for ensuring public and customer safety on and near the SkyTrain system. They focus on fare compliance and work with SkyTrain staff to conduct fare checks and issue tickets on both an ad-hoc basis and through coordinated blitzes. People often ask why we don’t put an officer on every bus, which is like asking why there isn’t an officer on every street corner. With up to 900 buses on the road at any time of the day, hiring additional Transit Police Officers to check fares would mean we’d have to have a larger police force than the Vancouver Police Department. Hiring more officers to check fares is seen as a poor allocation of resources.

Instead, Transit Police work cooperatively with both Transit Security and jurisdictional police departments to share information and ensure safety and security on buses. Transit Police also works directly with Coast Mountain Bus Company to help target key routes and transfer areas where there are any public safety concerns which may include fare evasion.

Why do people refuse to pay their fare?

Although Compass card and faregates as well as the continued actions by Transit Police will reduce the amount of fare evasion on the system, changing the mindset or attitudes of fare evaders is key to reducing the costs of fare evasion.

When I think about fare evasion, many questions come to mind including these:

  • Why do people feel that they don’t have to pay to use transit?
  • Why does fare evasion sometimes result in assaults on bus operators?
  • If someone does not have the means to pay, what is TransLink’s (and therefore tax payers) responsibility to provide mobility to them?

TransLink has chosen the Buzzer blog as the place to have a thorough discussion with our customers regarding this issue. When people don’t pay their fare, it hurts all of us. There’s a cost to enforcing fares. More importantly, someone has to cover the cost of those who ride for free – customers, tax payers and governments. These are important questions and ones I hope readers of this blog can help me answer.


  • By Acco, February 8, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

    On the nonpayment of transit: I think one of the fundamental problems in addressing fare evasion stems from the zone-based system of transit. For people living on a zone boundary, their cost of transit has just increased (as they’re more likely to travel across the boundary). When compared to the person that travels the same distance without crossing a boundary, the cost of use is unfair to the person living on the boundary. I realise that compass will eventually solve this disparity once distance-based fares are implemented, but, until then, it likely contributes to fare evasion.

    Another issue is transit within the downtown core. Due to the lack of enforcement, I believe people just hop on and off to travel short distances in this area. A possible solution to this is creating a smaller downtown zone, that has transfers applicable for transit only in the area, and shorter duration on the usefulness of the transfer.

    And on obligation: Circumstantial. I think I’d rather have a drunk belligerent person on a bus than have him attempt to drive himself home (and probably injure somebody in the process). I think it’s up for the operator to decide however.

  • By Dillen, February 8, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

    Part of it is frustration when drivers do not know translink policy. I can’t count the times I’ve went to bring a friend on Sunday’s as part of the perks of buying a monthly pass, and been denied, and sometimes mocked/told that the drivers view was right or get-off-the-bus,despite my references to translink policy.

    Despite logging each of these incidents on the transit complaint line, it still happens. This causes resentment, as people are not getting “what they paid for”.

    As well, many people do not know that you can ask a skytrain operator to help you pay your fare, even if you don’t have cash in hand at the time by them mailing it to your house(if you show valid BCID). This legal option of getting out of between a rock and a hard place should be more publicized.

  • By Andrae G, February 8, 2012 @ 6:18 pm

    I’ve always felt that wholesale fare evasion – the kind where you simply don’t buy a ticket – is probably very low. What may be higher is where people over-ride their tickets. For example, a trip from downtown to Metrotown is supposed to be two zones, but only the final few minutes of the trip is actually in the second zone. I can see someone buying a one-zone ticket and thinking “if they are going to inspect my ticket it’s likely going to be during the first 90% of the trip where my ticket is valid. It’s unlikely to be in the final 10% where my ticket is no good.”

  • By Brenden, February 8, 2012 @ 6:22 pm

    Though I understand the need/desire to reduce fare-evasion, haven’t studies shown that full-blown fare-gates will cost more to maintain than the regained revenue (and this of course assumes that fare-evasion reaches near zero thanks to fare-gates, which seems unlikely). I wonder if that money would be better spent on simpler touch-points and increased attendant / TAPS presence.

    I can second Dillen’s statement. I’ve had trouble bringing a friend on a farecard in the past.

  • By Brandon, February 8, 2012 @ 6:45 pm

    Here’s what Translink said in the Buzzer from 2004:

    How much will the faregates cost to operate a year (incl. employee costs)?

  • By Null Neimand, February 8, 2012 @ 6:50 pm

    I get what is being said, but an interesting personal experience aside, I lost my wallet, which had my farecard in it, and my bank card and some cash, I was pretty sure I had lost it on the bus, I was living in New West at the time, and in order for me to check to see if it had been turned in a day or so later (probably without the money or the farecard I bet) I would have had to WALK from Columbia Station to Stadium Station. Now I can do this I walk long distances all the time, but this isn’t a common thing for people to do, its doubtful they would attempt it. Hopping on the skytrain is just something you do when you have little to no other option, or I guess one could hang outside a skytrain station and beg for a ticket someone is done using.. wait no thats illegal too. I guess begging for money outside of a station isn’t a skytrain offence as long as your not on transit property…

    Luckily my wallet was found just outside my building, and I was saved having to replace all my identification, bank card, fare card, money etc. But in some circumstances hopping on transit is what people have to do…

  • By Philippe, February 8, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

    I’m not sure how that justifies paying close to 200million dollars to put in faregates…not to mention the added cost of running the system.
    Wasn’t it just a few years ago translink we trying to convince us that faregates were a bad idea?

  • By Daniel, February 8, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

    I’d like to add that out of all the people who are committing fare evasion, I would bet a good portion of those people are homeless or in poor financial situation. So even if fare gates were installed, they would continue to perform fare evasion like what happens in all other gated transit systems in the world. Thus adding gates does not eliminate fare evasion altogether. If you realize this then the apparent saving are less than you would think. This should than make you question, if the gates aren’t stopping everyone, are they worth it?

    Personally I am fine with that type of fare evasion and think the figures don’t look significantly high to warrant trying to fix the system, especially now when money is better spent elsewhere. So for those reasons I Support the compass card but think the gate are not required.

    On the other side of the argument there are other reason for the gates than just fare evasion. Like perceived safety.

  • By Sheba, February 8, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

    I have the annual pass nowadays and last year I decided to mark off on a calendar each time I was fare checked. Now this is for the Skytrain, and while I don’t ride during morning rush hour, I do go to Metrotown a lot. On average I ride the Skytrain 4 – 6 days a week.

    Well for last year I was fare checked a grand total of 16 times! Two of those times were a random check while on the train (shocked the hell out of me the first time it happened, as I haven’t experienced that in years) and the other 14 times when going from the ticket machines to the platform.

    Now can someone explain to me how accurate these numbers are, considering all the times I walked onto the Skytrain without having to show my fare to anyone? How was anyone supposed to know if I had a valid fare or not.

    On a side note to this, looking at my calendar, the first time I was fare checked on the Skytrain was Jan 21/11 and the second time was Apr 10/11. One reason I can think of for the big gap there is the lack of holidays. Much more fare checking seems to be done right around major holidays.

  • By Phoebe, February 8, 2012 @ 8:00 pm

    I was trying to catch a bus back to the southsurrey park and ride at 1 pm, the #321 was letting some people on, I got in the line, then the bus closed his doors and left only letting 3-4 people on the bus. On another occasion, a driver had to slam on his brakes, a lady fell and skinned her knee, while the busdriver did not even ask if anyone was okay. These are not good examples of how they should be doing their jobs as people depend on the drivers to get you to a destination safely.

  • By Charles, February 8, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

    It’s very simple. The reason why fares are evaded is because they are too expensive. It’s not right to have to pay so much for a bus ride, when the same service costs just cents in Singapore, for example.

  • By Poor, February 8, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

    It’s not just non-payment… but on some routes like the #20 where many jump on the rear doors on Broadway…. would the bus be less crowded and useable without the freeloaders? Too often service is crippled with rear boarders holding the doors open and other paying passengers are left behind as the bus is full.

  • By Scott, February 8, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

    You can’t compare service in Singapore and here. Translinks service area is way bigger, costs are way more etc.

    Faregates are a great investment. They will cut down on fare evasion significantly and overtime will pay for themselves many times over.

    As for on the bus, I see almost everyday someone that doesn’t pay their fare and it is worse in some areas then others. Vancouver is bad as is Surrey. As a regular 320/319/502 and other STC routes, I see it a lot. Some drivers also just leave the bus and let people board regardless if they have paid or not. Translink could cut down on fare evasion with increased security on routes with a lot of fare evasion. On Seabus they should be checking every ticket always. There should be zero percent fare evasion since there is only one entrance/exit. Translink needs to do as much as it can to lower fare evasion rates so the publics money is going further.

  • By T, February 8, 2012 @ 10:48 pm

    The thing that startles me the most is a project that will cost 175-200 million will only be saving translink 18 million a year. It will take approx. 11 years for translink to start making money by installing the fare gates. 11 YEARS! And this is at a time where translink is quote: “strained” for money.

    It’s unbelievable that you’ve decided to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in faregates. That money could have been used to fund the UBC Rapid Transit Project, or the Surrey Rapid Transit Project, or the Expo Line Upgrades, or to introduce new bus routes that are desperately needed, or to increase frequency in heavily congested routes, or to increase bus service hours, or to purchase more articulated buses, or even to replace the aging New Flyer D40L’s that still haunt the streets of Richmond and Surrey. (These buses were made in 1996 – they’re over 15 years old…)

    I live in Surrey, which is probably one of the lesser desirable cities to live in regarding public transportation. I only live near 2 bus routes; the next closest one is a 20 minute walk away. They only run at a 30 minute frequency, and do you know what it’s like to miss your bus and having to wait in the rain for 30 minutes for the next one? They both only run until 9:00pm, and none of them terminate at a skytrain station. This means that if I ever need to go anywhere North or West of the Fraser River (Downtown Vancouver, Vancouver, North Vancouver, Richmond, Burnaby, Coquitlam, etc), I’m guaranteed to have to make at least 3 transfers (bus-bus-skytrain-bus). What I’m basically trying to say is you should be investing this 200 million in a place where it’s actually needed.

    Please reconsider the decision to install faregates, because in the end, faregates aren’t going to impact the average transit user’s experience. Your skytrains are above capacity, your bus routes aren’t frequent, there’s large gaps in your transit coverage, people are stuck at bus stops because buses are full, and buses are always either late or early, never on time.

    None of this is going to change just because you install faregates.

  • By Henry, February 8, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

    I think people have to remember that the provincial government is ordering TransLink to install the gates because then Minister of Transportation, Kevin Falcon, felt fare evasion was costing the system a huge amount of money. TransLink themselves had always pointed out that the costs of installing gates was way more than the cost of current fare evasion.

  • By Acco, February 8, 2012 @ 11:47 pm

    Well, the faregates are one story, but… I think you guys are neglecting the one good thing that will happen because of this: *detailed usage statistics* of the system. As it stands right now, Translink only can gather detailed statistics based on where people board when a fare is paid/faresaver activated. They have a lot less information on pass users. While the faregates are sadly tied to this… the wealth of data that Translink can collect from the NFC tapping in/out will help them better understand usage patterns.

    On the funding of the faregates/nfc transit card: The government is partially funding this “upgrade”… I believe it was to the tune of $100M.

    And on Singapore: Significantly greater population density. To the tune of (Sg) 7148/km^2 vs (GVRD) 735.6/km^2. The GVRD number is slightly off, as Translink does not provide services to certain areas included in the GVRD, but, my point stands. They can offer more service in a smaller area because more people will use it.

  • By Eugene Wong, February 8, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

    Here are a few random gate and fare thoughts.

    Sometimes I don’t pay, because I forget. This happens only when I go from using a month pass to using FareSavers. I really need to get where I’m going, and I can’t afford to pay extra just because I don’t have FareSavers with me. It also happens, because I forget to validate the FareSavers that I do have.

    That being said, I do valid extra FareSavers the next time around.

    Also, I always have to take a bus sooner or later, so eventually I end up paying during, unless it’s a very rare kind of trip.

    Last fall, I did it wrong about 4 times in a row, which balanced out. I used a 1-zone FareSaver during the day to go from Surrey to Vancouver. At night, I used a 3-zone FareSaver. It was such an odd feeling when I realized what happened. I had never done it before. The next time around, it happened exactly the same way. It was very unnerving. In those situations, I kept the FareSavers for a day or 2 be sure that I balanced out.

    Gates will not work, because bus drivers will still let freeloaders on. Honestly, imagine that it’s pouring rain out, or that it’s -30 C at night, and it’s in the middle of no where. Would you *really* turn somebody away because he doesn’t have any fare? Yeah, right.

    Those gates will not last long, either. Just before we pay them off, we’ll definitely need new gates. Vandals will also ensure that the gates remain wide open.

    Also, people will always sneak in the back of the bus, and then sneak out the back, so that they won’t pay.

    I think that Translink’s repsonsibility should not be to provide cheap and affordable transportation. It should be to reduce cars on the road.

  • By Chuck, February 9, 2012 @ 1:00 am

    I think it’s right that bus drivers do not put themselves in harm’s way over a fare.

    I do agree that fare evasion is stealing, and is something we cannot condone. But mobility is an important service that we as a society should taken pains to provide those of us who are struggling. So change the rules: maybe make some key routes or times free (C-Train has a free zone in downtown Calgary, I don’t know if it’s for this reason). Enshrine “I’m sorry, I cannot pay. May I please have a ride?” as a valid fare.

    I agree with Acco on gates providing important usage data, but I think they need not be fare gate.

  • By Claude, February 9, 2012 @ 2:12 am

    I take two bus rides a day, one to work and one home and once a week on the skytrain to the store. I see many who do not pay and are hostile to the driver if refused a ride. I am all for the fare gates and once they are installed, could you (trans-link)please have an attendant on some of the busses for the ones feeling they are owed something.Do keep up the checking for fare evaders. I am looking forward to the fare gates as it will make the transit safer for all.

  • By John B, February 9, 2012 @ 5:07 am

    I see Transit Security checking fares on the bus more often now (which is awesome to see) but I overheard one of the officers talking to the driver saying they haven’t hired any new officers for a while. I think translink needs to hire more Transit Security both for fare checking and keeping us safe on the bus. As for the Skytrain, I hardly see the Transit Police checking fares anymore, as they are dealing with actual crime. Perhaps Translink should have Transit Security solely responsible for fare enforcement and have the police dealing with actual crime?

  • By Wayne, February 9, 2012 @ 8:10 am

    The single biggest mistake by Translink was not installing fare gates on day one. No other system I can think of, and I’ve been to several large cities, uses an honour system.

    An unscientific comparison leads me to conclude that Metro Vancouver has one of the highest, if not the highest, fare structure of any system I’ve used. I personally resent this. I’m retired, I don’t live on the poverty line but $81. for a one zone fare is a lot of money. It’s particularly galling since I doubt I ever ride a bus where someone doesn’t get on without paying.

    I don’t see how the Compass Card will change that. I don’t expect bus drivers to get into confrontations with fare evaders but Compass Card or not people who do not want to pay to ride the bus will not pay.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 9, 2012 @ 8:43 am

    Hi Everyone: This is great discussion! There’s a real spectrum of opinions and ideas going on. I’ll try to address what I can now, then follow up later today with more.

    Acco, Andrea G: We’re looking at fare zones and how they will work with Compass card and faregates. The zones will be the same when the system first comes online in 2013. The idea is that their will be a lot of change for customers when the cards and gates come in and we don’t want to throw any changes to fare zones into an already challenging transition for customers. Therefore, there may be changes to how fare zone work later in 2013/2014. It’s still yet to be determined.

    Brenden, Brandon, Acco, Philippe:
    You are right. There is a significant cost for installing faregates and Compass card. Here’s how it is being paid for – The province is providing $40 million and the Government of Canada is contributing up to $30 million from the Building Canada Fund to support the approximately $100 million in eligible costs for the faregates installation and related station improvements. The total cost for both the faregates and Compass card projects is approximately $171 million.

    Now, we estimate the gates will save $7 million annually, but there is also the more hard to measure savings of perception of fare evasion which we believe will be reduced due to gates being installed.

    As Acco pointed out, faregates and Compass card aren’t just about fare evasion. The data collected of when and where transit users are traveling will assist us in the planning and dispatch of both current and future services and system upgrades.

  • By Yvonne, February 9, 2012 @ 9:12 am

    I think the stats for the West Coast Express are likely very misleading. I’ve been taking the WCE for 6 years and not only do they only check your tickets when leaving waterfront (it’s essentially an honour system in the morning) but you only see Transit police on the WCE perhaps 4 times a year. Seeing as it’s ~$170 a month (depending where you live) this is the most expensive transit pass and the least enforced. They did an enforcement blitz on Tuesday and I personally saw 10+ people get tickets for not having a pass (but at least 5 talk their way out of one– “Is this the skytrain platform?”). Seeing as the pass is only enforced a few times a year, it is still cheaper to pass a ticket a few times a year then purchase a monthly pass.

  • By Gus, February 9, 2012 @ 9:59 am

    To answer the question, why do people feel they can fare evade… perhaps people would be less likely to skip paying the fare if they felt that the service they received was equivalent to the cost.

    When a customer isn’t satisfied with a service at many places, a complaint will often rectify the situation, be it a refund, a discount on their next service, or a solution. (For example, a bad haircut will result in someone else fixing the hair cut, not paying or a discount on a return visit). However, when things go wrong with Translink, there is no customer service to soothe customer’s ill feelings. Who wants to pay $3.75 to sit on a stuck skytrain only to watch your frozen food thaw out and result in it being thrown out. Who wants to pay to watch multiple buses go by completely full and end up taking a taxi to your destination just so you aren’t late. Who wants to pay to be treated like crap by bus drivers – drivers who aren’t on time, are rude to paying customers and for the love of god, do not wait for the elderly or those on crutches to sit down before hitting the gas.

    Registering a customer complaint does nothing for this, so yes – I’ve had to take a taxi and then decided not to pay fare the next 7 or so trips to cover the cost.

    There are also the trips that take longer than the 90minute transfer allows. It’s quite disheartening to pay for two or three zones, only to get to your last bus and (after waiting and waiting for it to arrive because we all know schedules are just a suggestion) and have your transfer be expired and pay all over again.

    Perhaps the overall cost of transit is not expensive, however if in terms of value – it is.

    In terms of the gates – I am curious to see how this will actually work out. Fare evaders can be a creative bunch – I would know. How will it work on multi-bus trips. What happens if you tap your card to get on a bus, but not to get off? I’m waiting with anticipation to see the lineups to get OFF the bus at a stop such as Broadway and Commercial where, as it is, it’s always a game to see if you can make your way to the exit without the bus taking off.

    I’m assuming compass cards will be available for purchase on buses? What happens if there isn’t enough money on my card for me to get off the Skytrain? Will I be stuck in Granville station forever?

    I guess only time will tell how these fare gates will turn out. Hopefully for me, by then I won’t have to take public transit.

  • By Erik G., February 9, 2012 @ 10:17 am

    “Vancouver is probably the only city in the world that doesn’t have faregates.”

    San Diego
    …and many other “world-class” cities get along fine without fare-gates.

    Use the easily-hacked Compass/RFID card:
    to collect data all you want using pylons:
    but why waste all that money on introducing faregates which do nothing for TransLink except add more headaches in the future?
    Even if it is coming from Ottawa, it is still the public’s money!

  • By Alan Robinson, February 9, 2012 @ 10:45 am

    One of the untouted benefits of having a POP system is assurance people have that they will not be immediately denied their mobility for failing to carry a document with them. Twice, I’ve been on the system on days where I’ve forgotten my wallet, and had to travel to Mission on the WCE. I need to know that I will always have a way home because there are no affordable alternatives.

    There is a high probability in a faregated system for entry to be denied in unforeseen circumstances. With the installation of faregates, I’d suggest that fareagents be trained to be approachable and to allow entry to those requesting to enter without ability to pay. Abuse of this generosity would have to be deterred as it is presently in the POP system.

  • By Joseph Russell, February 9, 2012 @ 10:55 am

    just want to share my two cents :)
    I understand on a purely business stand point revenue lost is an important issue that needs to be minimized and/or eliminated, but I don’t believe fare gates is the way to go.
    I don’t believe skytrain stations are designed appropriately to handle the long lineups that would result from installing fare gates. just look at the main st science world station where there are only three access points to the platform and they are very narrow.
    the flow of traffic will be greatly restricted. I think the idea of fare gates sounds like an easy solution but the operation and effect on travellers will cost more.
    I would like to see a study of alternatives to decreasing loss of revenue due to fare skippers that the public can see and vote for themselves.
    thank you

  • By Bobo, February 9, 2012 @ 11:24 am

    As some people have already mentioned, this tap-on, tap-off business is probably going to be brutal for creating lineups and delays.

    Has Translink done any research on how this will affect the time needed to load and unload buses? I think many routes will be ok, but I worry about routes with 3-door boarding and routes like the 145 that let off a completely packed bus at the terminus.

    It already takes me long enough to transfer at Production because Translink apparently thinks everyone would rather take a nice stroll along Lougheed instead of being dropped off in at least the same postal code as the entrance. Now I will also get to wait in line to get off the bus, and then maybe again to get through the fare gate at the station.

  • By Amanda, February 9, 2012 @ 11:27 am

    I’m curious on what the stats are for how many tickets actually get paid. I see lots of them being given out, and hear the fines are pretty big, but does Translink actually get payments on the fines issued?

  • By Winnie, February 9, 2012 @ 11:32 am

    I’m a generally fare paying customer. But I do know people who do not pay. I have asked them as to why they do not. Their answer is simple and logical. “Well, aren’t we only going one stop?” The chances of us being checked are slim to none. And it hardly seems unfair to pay $2.50 from Waterfront to Vancouver City Center. Many people will probably say, ‘oh, well, if you don’t want to pay, why not just walk, it’s close!’ I would walk, if I lived in California. Many times I take transit for short distances is because it is raining, and I’m sure I’m not the only person that does this. Seattle also has a ‘free ride zone’ that I have taken advantage of numerous times, and as a tourist in a city that does this, it makes me feel more at ease. Aren’t we trying to increase tourism?

    I have moved since first starting to use Translink. I now live in Richmond, at the edge of the zone boundary. At times when I don’t have a monthly pass, I often would just not end up paying the 2 zone fare, especially if I were only going one or two stops. Now to avoid the zone cost, I drive my car past the zone border and park in Vancouver. You may think that I’m an idiot and it all works out to be the same, if not more, but I rather not give my money to Translink if I had to spend that money either way.

    Fare gates will not be the solve all to Translink’s financial problems. Maybe if the CEOs took a small paycut, that might actually help, instead of complaining about fare evaders.

  • By LD, February 9, 2012 @ 11:33 am

    I’m in agreement with Bobo. My neighbourhood has decent community shuttle service, and I’m able to get to work, the mall, several grocery stores, etc., but the shuttles only have one door, and during the morning school rush, and even after work when people are picking up groceries on their way home from work, the logistics of getting everyone on and off the bus, while having to juggle bags of groceries, strollers, school bags, and any other number of items just boggles my mind. My route already has issues with drivers who cut parts of the route because they think that only having 5 minutes between runs isn’t enough of a break. What is going to happen now?

  • By Stephen Rees, February 9, 2012 @ 11:41 am

    \Why do people feel that they don’t have to pay to use transit?\

    Very few people think like this. Most people – as the audits show – pay. A small percentage of people think that they can get away with fare evasion, and regard it as a game. As the perception grows that there is no penalty to pay if you are caught evading, then evasion grows. The weakest part of the present system is that the provincial penalty notices issued when an evader is caught are NOT effectively followed up. The courts are jammed, and there is little to be gained by pursuing every unpaid fine.

    Unfortunately some politicians decided to make a link between criminality and fare evasion. They suggested that if it was harder to evade fares the system would become \safer\. This is nonsense, but it was what drove the provincial decision to install fare gates. This will reduce the number of police riding the system making random checks – which is what deters a lot of crime at present. Many systems that have fare gates (London, Paris) are beset by pickpockets. They make a lot of money so the cost of a ticket is just a \cost of doing business\ to them.

    Remember too that the New York subway always had turnstiles from day 1 but for many years had one of the worst crime rates of any system – a situation which was extremely costly to rectify.

    Even after the new system is installed, there will be fare evaders. They will just have more inventive ways of \gaming the system\.

    If the costs of the new fare collection system are to be covered by reducing police on the system, then I expect crime will increase.

  • By J.R. Mints, February 9, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    Whom will these faregates help?

    IF they come in on budget and all those fare evaders suddenly find the money to give Translink, it will still take well over TEN years just to recover that money. Meanwhile, fares will be hiked and more costs will be passed to taxpayers.

    Public Transit is often a last resort for people who can’t afford a vehicle. The evasion fine is already beyond their means (likely why most of those fines go unpaid).

    Will the poor and homeless magically be able to dig up the money from some other place, like their food or rent? Will they have to turn to illegitimate means to pay for this new service? Or do we just deny them the ability to get around?

    Will these faregates cause more congestion and stress at busy stations as people have to line up in order to swipe a card and pass the gates?

    I just don’t think the benefits outweigh the costs, even in the long term. It was nice when Translink trusted us. I guess we’re all criminals now.

  • By J.R. Mints, February 9, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

    PS. Meanwhile, Translink have been doing some major cutting to bus routes, so we’re all paying more for less service.

    The only upside is if this means all buses will become rear-boarding.

  • By Paul Clapham, February 9, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

    Those of you who think the faregates are going to stop all free-riding, think again. I was in London getting on the Tube once; I swiped my card and went through the gate, but before it closed somebody else dashed through behind me. I’m willing to bet they didn’t pay.

    I’m sure there are other ways of getting around the gates without paying, too. So whoever came up with the \11 years to pay back\… that was a good first estimate. Now factor in the leakage and you get an even longer payback period.

  • By Acco, February 9, 2012 @ 12:24 pm

    Bobo: I’ve experienced tapping in/off on other transit systems. The actual time to register a tap is minimal, to the tune of less than a second. The full action of the person putting their wallet/card onto the scanner, and then moving on? Probably 1-2 seconds.

    Granted, my experience is only with NXP MIFARE DESFire based NFC transit cards, but, given that the contractor dealing with the implementation used these in previous systems, it’s a fair assumption that these times would be the same.

    And – again, the long term prospect of fine tuning translink given the detailed data from transit statistics could potentially help defer costs. Optimization of routes, etc.

  • By Joseph Russell, February 9, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

    will there be a public meeting of sorts to decide what is the best option?
    as this is a public service, we should have a say

  • By Joseph Russell, February 9, 2012 @ 12:52 pm

    I believe personally adding fare gates will only create more headaches for everyone involved and that’s including management at translink.
    I agree with a previous comment – increase random checks with transit police. that would not be extra work to achieve, riders will feel safer and we will continue to represent a city that embraces the spirit of community.
    education is better then reinforcing negative attitudes. translink should use their advertising tools to continue to promote the consequences of fare dodging and hire some of these low income poverty stricken and homeless people to clean and care for the stations inorder to give them a steady income so they can make a better life for themselves.
    it concerns me that we should consider paying a machine instead of paying a person.

  • By Frequent Rider, February 9, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

    Anecdata are not real data, but here’s my contribution.

    I’ve been riding the SkyTrain from Surrey to downtown since it opened, so I’ve encountered 22 years of fare checks — all 40 or 50 of them (maybe 2-3 a year, and I commute at peak times). In those fare checks, I’ve seen two people get escorted off the SkyTrain for lack of a ticket.

    On the other hand, I used to get a monthly farecard, and I’d keep that month’s farecard “live” in my wallet for easy display, and put the next month’s card behind it. One year, it was June before any of the fare checkers noticed that I still had January’s card in the window pocket of my wallet.

  • By Acco, February 9, 2012 @ 2:01 pm

    @JosephRussel: The decision’s already been made, the gates are being put in as we speak. What do you think the recent renovation work on the stations is for?

    I don’t think there is a perfect solution for “solving” the fare-evasion problem, other than wishing everybody was a perfect little angel and could be trusted not to lie/cheat/steal (which obviously will never happen). I don’t like faregates myself, mostly because I don’t think there’d ever be a chance of a free downtown transit area from ever being implemented.

  • By Miguel, February 9, 2012 @ 2:18 pm

    They simply never should have built the system without fare gates (BTW there is no such word as ‘faregate’). It was an incredibly stupid idea that has cost taxpayers MILLIONS of dollars.

  • By Jim Higgings, February 9, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

    I don’t care if the cost of installing the gates exceeds the cost of fare-evasion. There is also a safety aspect to this. An open system like Skytrain let’s the criminal element come and go as they please. At least with a gate you have to buy a ticket before you can commit a crime.

  • By David, February 9, 2012 @ 3:02 pm

    Fare gates are not needed to implement the Compass card system.
    It will cost more to maintain the gates than they’ll get in extra fare revenue.

    Let me say that again so the people who think some 11-year payback period is possible. Even in a fairy tale world of zero fare evasion the fare gates will cost more than is currently lost to evasion. Translink is going to have to raise fares/taxes and cut staff in order to pay for the fare gates.

    Cutting staff means transit will be LESS safe than it is today.

    So fare gates = higher costs, lower safety, less service.

    It was a Liberal government decision to install fare gates. They wanted to be seen as “getting tough” on fare evaders in a way that downloaded most of the cost to Translink.

    When the new system becomes operational I expect a tiny increase in revenue from people who innocently forget to add a fare or validate a FareSaver or buy their new monthly pass.

    I also expect a tiny decrease in ridership as some decide not to risk getting caught.

    Those who’ve been riding for free because they couldn’t afford it will be faced with a difficult choice. They could try new tactics (often hard to do with 3 children in tow), reduce the amount of food they give those 3 kids or reduce the number of trips they make.

    Those who see fare evasion as a game will continue to see it as a game just with new rules.

  • By Dave 2, February 9, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

    Gus writes:

    > What happens if there isn’t enough money on my card for me to get off the Skytrain? Will I be stuck in Granville station forever?

    There’s a folk song about that very scenario, a fellow named Charlie who was unable to pay his exit fare.

    The song goes on to say that every day Charlie’s wife is able to hand him a sandwich (but not, for some reason, a nickel)
    Boston’s version of the transit smart card is named the “Charlie Card”

  • By Nathan, February 9, 2012 @ 5:29 pm

    I think there is a difference between someone that doesn’t pay on SkyTrain than someone that doesn’t pay on the bus. When you don’t pay on SkyTrain, you don’t actually have to confront the bus driver. People that confront bus drivers and don’t pay fare don’t seem to have respect for the law or other people on the bus. I was witness to a crime on the 320 when a non-fare paying freeloader got on the bus than stole a phone from someone. I really think that bus enforcement needs to step up.

  • By Big Ed, February 9, 2012 @ 5:37 pm

    Great discussion!

    As a former Vancouverite who still visits occasionally, I’ve got a couple of comments on the whole fare issue.

    Firstly, I have no sympathy to those who say “I cheat because the fare is too high / the service is bad / I can’t afford it”. Try that argument at Save-on foods and see how long it delays a (free) ride to the crowbar hotel. The fare’s the fare – I wish it were less, but it isn’t – suck it up!

    Secondly, there’s obviously no financial justification for the fare gates, but since when has our government let reality get in the way of ideology or of benefiting a liberal party supporter. Even so: making the stations more secure may be reason enough – I think this is why Los Angeles installed fare gates on their light rail system. Their fare box recovery is so low the gates won’t ever pay back. They don’t have transfers though – weird!

    When I come to town, the trips I tend to take generally push the limits of the 90 minute validity period – I tend to buy a day pass just to save myself the stress. Kind of chokes me that if the system runs well and the transfers are on-time I’m legal, but if the system screws up I’m off-side.

    As for the zones, Vancouver’s geography seems to define reasonable zone boundaries across water, but the land-based zones (Boundary Road, for instance) seem a bit cruel to those living close to the line. Would be nice to have some kind of “neutral zone”, but I have no ideal how you would enforce it.

  • By Jim, February 9, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

    Nice how Translink refused to be on the CKNW show seems like they trying the ostrich strategy.

  • By Chris, February 9, 2012 @ 10:10 pm

    My two cents:
    1) The fare gates are a horrible investment, as has been pointed out by many others.
    2) I’m excited about the Compass card and the possibilities for distance based fares.
    3) When I’ve ridden without a fare I’ve usually honestly forgotten to validate a ticket. A few times I’ve taken the B-line for a single stop and knowingly skipped the fare because it’s easier to board on the back and I don’t think it is worth $2.25 for a few blocks.

  • By Voony, February 9, 2012 @ 11:54 pm

    I had already written on it at

    Actualized numbers provided here confirm the Bottom line:
    it is a lousy investment

    The saving will not be even enough to pay for the maintenance of the fare gates ! Don’t even think to pay back the debt.

    and all that for what?

    “At least with a gate you have to buy a ticket before you can commit a crime” what makes Jimmy happy…

    How many real staff (police, fare checker, which could be also deployed on 99B and other bus route) could have been hired instead?

  • By Dave 2, February 10, 2012 @ 12:05 am

    In the early 80s there was a neutral (or rather ‘common’) zone. Imagine if Zone 2 was the common zone. A single fare (50 cents iirc) would be good in 1 and 2, or 2 and 3. A double fare ($1.00) covered everything..

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, February 10, 2012 @ 1:37 am

    An interesting comparison is the escalators, the tracks and the ticket machines.

    Think of all the track maintenance they had to do in the first few years of the Millenium Line. Maybe I’m wrong, but they had to do general maintenance in the first 5 years, or so.

    The ticket machines have been replaced about 3 times, at least, and they have been upgraded to deal with new bills.

    The escalators just make my blood boil, although there is probably nothing wrong there. It just seems so weird to see “new” escalators out of service for maintenance.

    So, where were we? Something about fare gates being a great way to make money? Yeah.

    The costs of the gates will be relatively fixed. Sadly, if we manage to get evaders off the trains and buses, via gates, then…what? We still won’t get back our money. Even the transit cops will let “evaders” like me through, because we have a legitimate situation. The rules say that I’m out of line, but our culture dictates that laws and rules are really there as a fallback. Will the cops really ticket me, if I forget to get off at Scott Road Station, then go to Columbia, then turn around, and then finally continue on?

    So, we’ll have the same transit for more money, with greater inconvenience, as opposed to more transit, with that same more money, with the same convenience.

    The sad thing is that even if we paid for the contract and the hardware, it is still worth our while to *not* install them.

    The gates cost money!!! Oh, by the way, our fares are going up.

  • By Jim, February 10, 2012 @ 8:36 am

    Translink can’t tackle fare evasion by itself. Without the strong support of the police, the courts and the government who makes the laws then their hands are tied. Someone doesn’t pay their fare, no police around, or they get an unenforceable fine. This leaves us where we are now.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 10, 2012 @ 9:49 am

    Hi everyone: Yesterday was a busy one, so I wasn’t able to answer all of your questions. There’s been some confusion out there regarding how and why fare audits are done. So, we’ll have a blog post up about that momentarily.

    There are a lot of comments, so I’ll try to tackle some of the ones that have come up more than once.

    Faregates cause lineups: The preparations for faregate installation and Compass card have been going on for some time. As Acco mentioned, tapping on and off takes seconds, so we aren’t expecting lineups to increase significantly.

    Faregates are a poor investment: TransLink has talked to other transit organizations to see if this was a good investment. We believe that faregates with Compass card will allow us to better plan the system – meaning where to allocate resources including buses. The first year of the gates and the cards (starting in 2013) will be a process of seeing what’s working and what isn’t. This includes the fares zones.

    Ok, I’ll be watching the blog all day and trying my best to get some answers for everyone. I love that this discussion is happening and I can assure you that all these comments are being looked at and taken into consideration by the fategate/Compass card team and TransLink management. Thanks everyone for the discussion. Keep it up!

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, February 10, 2012 @ 9:52 am


    Also, people need peer pressure to keep them in line. If they can evade fares in broad daylight, and feel comfortable doing it, then we need to start pointing fingers at ourselves.

    They should receive sharp criticism from every one of us.

    We can’t keep complaining to government. It’s not only their responsibility.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 10, 2012 @ 11:14 am

    Eugene: Following up on your last comment, faregates will reduce the number of people evading fares, but not all of them. Besides being part of the of the Compass card system (the tab on and off device is part of the faregates) which will provide very valuable hard data on usage of the system, the aim is that the gates will be seen as a positive security measure.

    It’s good to remember that gates account for $70 million of the $171 million dollar overall price tag. That $70 million includes all of the station upgrades on nearly all of the SkyTrain stations which is needed to implement Compass card and faregates.

  • By Marvin B, February 10, 2012 @ 12:58 pm

    The cost of fare evasion is much higher than those fares not collected. It’s the fare evaders for the most part that cause the problems on the transit system. When someone is drunk, and yelling at a driver or passenger, vandalizing the seat, breaking glass, etc, it’s more likely to be a fare evader than not. Calls for police, transit security, supervisors, fire departments, etc to buses are caused by fare evaders. Keeping the evaders honest or off the bus altogether will recoup some of that lost fare money (not all, as some wouldn’t take the bus at all if it wasn’t “free”), and will save money in emergency calls to buses and unnecessary repairs.

  • By Mike, February 10, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

    Just buy a car…jeez…

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 10, 2012 @ 1:28 pm

    Hi Eugene: On your point about fare gates costing money – yes, they do. However, faregates will also save money through some reduction of fare evasion and help provide a better service by being part of the collection of data that helps TransLink determine which transit routes are performing well and which are performing poorly. This will result in service being provided where it is needed most. This hard and valuable data collected through faregates and Compass card will provide hard data that will do a better job than and replace the way we do our usual service optimization.

    Thanks as always for you comments!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 10, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

    The question that hasn’t been address in our discussion thus far is this one – If someone does not have the means to pay, what is TransLink’s (and therefore tax payers) responsibility to provide mobility to them? It’s a difficult question, but one I think users of the system should ask themselves. I’d love to hear people’s opinions on it.

  • By mike, February 10, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    No Pay? No way…Jose…is what must we must say. They must not be allowed to delay, nor sway, our goal, to foray our wives at the end of the day.

    Anyways, there are many social programs for people struggling with money. People on income assistance are given bus tickets to use to go to/from work/rehab/social worker meetings. I know for I was once on income assistance.

    I know most of the people on that program. Some are decent but most are drunks and drug addicts. Should I be blamed for not wanting to buy them bus tickets for them to go meet their drug dealers and liquor stores?

    If you don’t have money for the bus, biking is a great alternative. For 6 months, I biked everywhere. I got in great shape, and only payed 25 dollars for the bike!

    So unless they are a child, they better have money if they are planning to ride the bus.

  • By JKKT, February 10, 2012 @ 8:11 pm

    Sorry for jumping in late, I have 8 comments I want to make:

    1) The argument of faregates, or no faregates is a lose-lose for translink. It’s just like the argument about the old Bc electric building keeping its lights on at night, by keeping the lights on, BCE was saving thousands $ per week in reduced furnace costs (>90% of the energy emitted from and incandescent is heat). Faregates and people will say the cost is too high, no faregates and people will complain about evasion.

    2) I remember a few times, transit police checking the fares on the 3, while the driver left the bus doors open. The non payers just exited the bus.

    3) Only a few % of those given a ticked actually pay the fine, because a ticket doesn’t stop you from taking transit. Thats why Gregor had that scramble with his 1 zone pass. Even if you get 20 tickets, there’s no reason to pay.

    4) I see many people, including the homeless, asking for a free ride for 4 blocks in the rain and the driver just punches ‘fare not paid’. Yes, it is not paid, but if you don’t let him on, he’ll just walk those 4 blocks.

    5) sunday group pass is very misunderstood by drivers; Truth: You don’t need any relation to the fare bearer to jack a ride. For ex, a soccer player, her mother, and her 4 daugthers can ride together with one pass. With this amazing offer, it’s more amazing that translink doesn’t advertize it, and that less than 1/2 of buzzer blog readers have used the deal. Also, I’ve talked to numerous people who have paid for 3 others on sundays not knowing the deal.

    6) At least a few times, I felt Sorry for homeless person with wrecked clothes, dumping his hard earned 70 pennies and nickels $2.50 into the collection machine, and hearing metal sound of the coins be dumped into the container.

    7) transit police’s job is to keep the situation on transit peaceful. If they have free time, they can fare check.

    8) For those that have lost your wallet, or just don’t have cash, there’s Fare Depreciation. Just ask ANY transit security or operator or police, and say “FARE DEPRECIATION” and they will give you a slip, (it asks you to pay later), where you can ride home. It’s just like a Proof of Payment. I’ve done this once. and so far, the only transit enthusiasts that I’ve talked to that knows about this is a planner at translink.

  • By Dave, February 11, 2012 @ 3:08 am

    I’m a fare evader. I don’t ride for free — I pay for one zone, sometimes a cheaper concession ticket. This is because I live one Skytrain stop outside the 1 zone, and my commute is only 4 stops, so all of 7 minutes long. I see a $2.50 ticket is good for 90 minutes, so I refuse to pay $3.75, as it’s too much and there is no way I am getting my money’s worth. I’m not getting my money’s worth with a $1.75 concession ticket!
    Whoever came up with this idiotic zone system should be forced to use it for a year. I imagine they’ll hate it.
    If it were up to me, I’d sell tickets by time usage. So $1.25 for 30 minutes, $2.50 for an hour, $3.75 for ninety minutes, and so on. Forget prices by age or concession. Anticipate your trip time. At the very worst you’ll be topping up your trip with another $1.25 payment.
    Can’t wait for Compass. My 7-minute commutes should cost next-to-nothing. It’ll be like getting all my money back from Translink for those thousands of unused hours left on my tickets.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, February 11, 2012 @ 4:00 am


    Regarding those who can’t afford to pay, perhaps a possible solution is to encourage the food banks to raise money for bus passes and FareSavers. I think their overall approach to giving stuff away is quite sound and solid. It *is* open for abuse, but they seem to make a balanced effort to hold people accountable to some degree.

    People who receive from the food banks can do volunteer work as “pay back”, so that the system is supported as much as possible. This kind of a person sees the food bank as a financial buffer, and not a place to abuse.

    Also, with charities, there is room for social contracts and honour systems, whereas with the government, everybody feels entitled to something. Nobody gives back to the government in the form of tips or deliberate extra payments. The government is a cold hard system that can do a great job, but it doesn’t bring out the best in a person that makes him go the extra mile.

    Another suggestion is to get people to carpool charitably. Some people might be willing to drive the poor on a regular basis. Perhaps Translink can lobby the government to get some kind of tax credit for gas spent on this.

    We especially need people who can transport wheel chairs and the handicapped.
    I’ll keep thinking.

  • By Jean, February 11, 2012 @ 6:34 am

    Add Calgary to the list of city without fare gates. Their LRT is expanding.

    In the downtown core, you ride for free which is perceived at certain times of the day not great because then people get on and are rough..etc.

  • By Christian, February 11, 2012 @ 8:14 am

    The current fare system is outdated and needs a change, which the Compass card and turnstiles come into play. The 2 go hand in hand, and there’d be no way to utilize one without the other properly.

    That being said, hearing that TransLink is sticking with fare zones for 2013 when the Compass card is implemented is maintaining that step back. People will have to adjust to the turnstiles and having to press the card to a transponder, why not have the new fare system upon launch (regardless of what fare system that may be — 1 transfer, distance based, &c.). The 3 door boarding on artics has to end by then; if you want to track fares, you need to eliminate this (or devise a solution to keep it (transponders next to each door perhaps?). Because with the turnstiles, that’ll be the easiest way to fare evade

    And remember, it isn’t just on the SkyTrain that’s getting turnstiles, the bus fleet will get transponders on their fare boxes, so it was necessary to get the entire fare structure up to date.

    To the issue of fare evasion, as many have pointed out, the turnstiles will not curb fare evading completely, but will reduce it. It’s too bad the turnstiles won’t be 10 feet high as to prevent people from jumping over. Fines won’t do anything. Make it a criminal offence, and put it on their record.

    Also, the turnstiles will cause lineups?! Have you actually used one of these? The whole process takes 2 seconds, and I’m guessing since the gates are automated, not the old-school manual 3 pronged handles — that could cut that extra second. You guys must have a busy life thinking you’d lose those precious seconds.

    Lastly, if you can’t afford the $2.50, you can always buy a car. Those things must be a bargain, right?

  • By JKKT, February 11, 2012 @ 9:26 am

    Sorry, it’s not Fare Depreciation, but fare Deferral: Part B section 12.

    @ Dave, Cristian and 5 others, I agree that the zone system needs change. It’s not right that The 47 km trip from Maple Ridge to Tsawwassen costs you $2.50, yet the 3 km trip from Renfrew Station to Brenwood Mall takes $3.75 out of your wallet.

    I hope it is distance based fare, and not time based.

  • By Voony, February 11, 2012 @ 12:18 pm

    Christian is asserting:
    The current fare system is outdated and needs a change
    aren’t London, Paris, New York, Zurich, Montreal …have zone system, many with turnstile and smartcard?

    Did you question why they keep their zone system?

    which the Compass card and turnstiles come into play. The 2 go hand in hand, and there’d be no way to utilize one without the other properly.

    Well again, New York, Paris, London, Montreal, Toronto,… got turnstiles way before smartcard was even existing…
    and more and more cities use the smartcard without the turnstile (that is the defacto case for city with surface LRT and on all buses, but also for city with subway like Rennes)

    So, what Christian is suggesting is that turnstile should be installed on buses, because according to him there’d be no way to utilize one without the other properly.

    Is that what is planned by Translink?

    again, what we see is that support for turnstile is based on \belief\ and other unsubstantiated argument, including the proposition that \Compass card needs turnstile\ what is a fallacy as proven by the majority of European network, a fallacy unfortunately fueled by Translink itself (as seen on this blog).

  • By Christian, February 11, 2012 @ 1:37 pm

    STM (Montreal) uses a flat fare which (for $3) would allow for 1 transfer from either bus or metro but no zones are needed.

    I am suggesting that sensors to activate the smart card on buses is necessary; to have the Compass card only implemented on just the SkyTrain is ridiculous. It’ll likely not be a literal turnstile on buses, but rather a sensor on or near the current fare machine to activate the smart card. Construction for upgraded turnstiles are also underway at Lonsdale and Waterfront terminals for Seabus. All 3 modes of transport will be using the same tech, otherwise it just becomes confusing if, say, all the buses weren’t smart card-enabled.

    All the more reason why distance-based fares work. As JKKT, (as well as a certain fare-evader) has pointed out, why should people be forced to pay $3.75 to cross the 1 station boundary? You’re only paying for how far you travel.

  • By no free ride, February 11, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

    I ride downtown and east side busses and EVERYTIME I ride, someone doesn’t pay. The fare evasion appears to be increasing. That would make sense since those who don’t want to pay, but didn’t relish the thought of a conflict with the bus driver, now know they don’t have to worry as the driver’s are only obligated to ‘advise’ (which they rarely do). I don’t see how this trend will subside.

    I can’t find where I read that with the Compass Card there will be an audible and visual signal that someone hasn’t paid when they get on the bus, how exactly will that work? Even with audible failure to pay tones, if we Canadians are too polite or insecure to show our distaste of the fare evader, how will it be effective?

    I would also like to point out that ‘the poor’ aren’t the only ones who aren’t paying for their bus fares, and keep in mind that ‘the poor’ usually have the means but prefer to save their money for ‘recreation’. Wouldn’t we all?

  • By Free Public Transit (@FreePublicTrans), February 11, 2012 @ 3:26 pm

    While we are arguing this. The auto-system is dumping tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — FOR FREE!

  • By Eugene Wong, February 11, 2012 @ 9:24 pm


    The trip from Maple Ridge to Tswassen is a long ride. I am not sure that you could do it on a single FareSaver. If the transfers are good, and if you start only at the north end of the bridge, then you might only get to Ladner.

    Another thing to bear in mind is that we only get a 30-60 minute frequency service. At least that was the case, when I last checked. A real concern about any trip is that you catch “an earlier bus” in case of bad traffic or a missed connection. That would mean that you would have to leave 30-60 minutes early. Oh joy. Assuming that you ride for 90 minutes, then we’d be talking about 2 hour 30 minute ride, with 2 transfers [could somebody correct me on that?].

    With all these zone crossings that you all are whining about, you only have to wait 2-5 minutes. Yes, I get it. I understand what you are upset about. I really do. That being said, you sound like a bunch of rich people complaining about the challenges of being rich.

    When tax dollars get funneled from small towns in BC to build a SkyTrain line, and when you complain about the extra few dollars for your fare, I can’t help but wonder if you need a bit of perspective. Tax payers from all over BC pay thousands of dollars per person, and get nothing out of it, while you get something.

    Like I said, I understand, but now isn’t the time.

  • By JKKT, February 12, 2012 @ 9:39 am

    You’re right that you can’t get to tswassen in 90 mins, but you can definitely travel to ladner. I also agree that SOF gets >30 minute frequencies, but like you have said in previous comments, they are not at all near capacity.
    If I sound like scrooge, I’m not; I’m just trying to advocate for a more fair transit system. Much of Metro Vancouver transit is paid for by the Property taxes, which the municipalities of M. Vancouver collect, and give to translink. It is also funded by the gas taxes, most recently the 2 cents that only applies to M. vancouver. Is it also not fair that Metro Vancouverites are paying for a prison in the interior, or fake lakes in Toronto? Just something to think about.

    Sometimes, zone systems make sense (like crossing a river), and sometimes they don’t (like crossing Boundary Street). Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that the zone boundaries in London follow the river borders. I do know that copenhagen also has a zone system, and it works much better than ours. I would be fine if Vancouver keep this type of zone system.

  • By zack, February 12, 2012 @ 12:59 pm

    I have a question that keeps boggling me, since TransLink is desperately trying find any source of revenue to boost it’s service, why then do I see bus drivers deliberately allowing crowds of people to board without paying? I’ve seen this type of behavior being acted on both Edmonds and Surrey Central stations.

  • By Alan Robinson, February 13, 2012 @ 8:41 am

    Since the point has come up a couple of times, would it be useful to have a post and discussion regarding fare policies for Translink? i.e. distance vs. zone based, what values or subsidies should be provided, what is considered fair, etc…

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 13, 2012 @ 9:27 am

    Hi everyone. I love that this discussion is still so productive! I have some comments to add. There have been a few comments about fare zones being maintained for at least the first few or more months after Compass care and faregates are installed. Here some text from the Compass card FAX page that I think speak to this and why zones can’t change right away – – TransLink will keep the current fare structure in place for a number of months after the switch to the Compass card while it gathers the trip data needed to determine if changes to the existing fares are the right next step.

    The current transit fare zones in Metro Vancouver are a “no-tech” way to charge fares according to the length of the trip being taken. In most other cities, different transit companies operate various pieces of the total network and people pay a fare every time they transfer from one operation to another. The longer the trip, the more they pay. These considerations and others will play a role in TransLink’s future decisions about fare structure.

    JKKT: Thanks for all of your points! I agree that TrasnLink might be able to do more to publicize both Sunday group rates and fare deferral. Maybe a future Buzzer post to remind people. I look into that and other way to get the word out.

    Dave: Thanks for your honesty. Perhaps if the zones change you will not have to be a fare evader in the future.

    Vooney: I appreciate your points. Yes, some systems have or have had smart cards without turnstiles. Yes, we could have put in only smart cards. However, it’s important to remember that the $70 million for smart cards is for turnstile installation and upgrades to the stations for both turnstiles and Compass card. It’s also important to remember that turnstiles will save nearly $7 million in quantifiable numbers and more in an unquantifiable about due to the money saved by the perception of security they will provide to the system. If I can find figures that show how much the station upgrades coast compared to the installation of the faregates themselves, I’ll post them here.

    Eugene Wong: TransLink is looking into the length of time fares are good for.

    Zack: I believe the Operator Safety section of this blog post addresses your comment.

    Alan: I like you’re idea. I be posting something when TransLink gets further along with the analysis of the fare structure. This will definitely be something Buzzer readers will be able to provide TransLink with some good feedback on.

  • By David M, February 13, 2012 @ 11:12 am

    Just want to comment on the pictures posted with the article – bith state “officers in action”. But they’re both talking with young kids with moms – and young kids travel free – so exactly why are they harassing young passengers? Shouldn’t they be going after the real fare dodgers. Those pictures look like stock publicity, a nice family friendly image.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 13, 2012 @ 11:32 am

    Hi David: You’ve got a good eye. I’ve been busy of late, so I haven’t be able to get out on the system to track down police and security and take photos of them. These shots were taken a while back and in our database. Regarding you comments about “harassing young passengers…” The police and security are there to help everyone. I don’t believe they were harassing these kids.

  • By Ian, February 13, 2012 @ 12:20 pm

    As a TransLink planner who has had some involvement in the project and ensuing fare policy considerations it’s great to see all the discussion here! Whatever the merits of the decision to put gates in, they are coming and it’s up to us to make the most of the system to ensure the fare structure can also be made smarter.

    As Robert noted, we need more travel data to figure out how the structure could be changed and, especially how it could be priced. Right now we know from automated passenger counters how many people are getting on and off buses at stops, and can infer the number on the bus between stops, but we don’t know how far each passenger travels and where they start and finish their trip. While we have no interest in knowing this on an individual level, the aggregate data that Compass will provide will allow us to figure out travel patterns on a neighbourhood-to-neighbourhood basis. This will help model the revenues that could be generated from alternative fare structures.

    Where the fare structure will go is still up in the air – Portland, OR seems set to abolish their zone system, on the pretext that low-income people live further out, but that seems to emphasize the transit agency as an income-redistribution agency, rather than a service. Here, the focus is likely to be on making the system smarter and more fair, addressing the high fares currently charged for short trips across a zone boundary (e.g. Joyce to Metrotown) while looking at some very long trips that can now be made on a one zone fare – Aldergrove to Tsawassen being an extreme one. The great thing about the Compass card is that the fare calculations can be made more complex but they are made by machine, not the rider. With stored value, all the rider needs to do is tap-on and tap-off during the trip and the correct fare will be charged, they won’t need to figure it out in advance, though it should be transparent enough to figure out for those who wish, or to purchase a pass.

    Two other quick notes – a few comments have expressed concern about alighting (unloading) times on buses. Every bus will have a reader at the front (on the existing farebox) and two readers at each rear door. And, as others have noted, the tapping transaction takes less than a second. So alighting should be relatively quick while boarding may remain the bottle-neck. There is no decision on extending all-door boarding at this stage.

    Erik G. also posted a list of systems without faregates that included, Lyon, France. Lyon has in fact retrofitted faregates to its metro system in the last several years (example: the tram system will doubtless remain ungated.

  • By David, February 13, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

    If TransLink posted a photo of a fare evader being given a ticket there’d probably a be a lawsuit. You have to be very careful using photos of people.

  • By Gerald, February 13, 2012 @ 3:03 pm

    On the one hand, I personally prefer the open get-on, get-off feel of a POP system. For me it increases the perceived accessibility and integration of the system with the community. I also think reductions in fare evasion will come mostly by reducing the number of trips rather than increasing the fare collected (people who would otherwise not pay, don’t ride).

    on the other hand, increasing not the actual, but the perceived fairness is a good point. I imagine there are many people who do not use transit currently who would be more likely to do so with faregates, simply because it will look fairer, look more secure, and dare I say, look slightly more upper-class. At least I hope so.

  • By Gerald, February 13, 2012 @ 3:17 pm

    on fare structure: I would love to see fares scale down quite a bit for very short trips to encourage more casual use. I also think it would be a very good thing if the smart card handled all the fare details for the customer – including – whether to buy single fares, tickets, day passes or week/month passes. Don’t know if you’re going to ride often enough next month to justify a pass, but don’t want to overpay on single fares? No problem, the card will figure it out: just use your card and you’ll always get the lowest possible fare arrangement: all tickets/passes are scrapped and turned into a sort of day/week/month maximum fare deduction on the card.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 13, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

    Hi Gerald: As Ian mentioned, there will be stored value on the Compass cards. What that means is that if you purchase a Compass card preloaded (example only…not based on what will actually be for sale) from a store, you will actually pay a little more – say $24. This means that should you be reaching the $20 mark on your card and you end up going an extra zone, the extra money on the card will cover your overage. Of course, once you have a card you can put pretty much any amount of money you want on it. The card is designed to charge you for what you’ve actually traveled. This will not only make sure that everyone pays the correct amount, it will also make sure you’re not charged for using more zones on weekends, holidays and after 6:30 p.m.

  • By David M, February 14, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

    I’m happy to see the iCompass card – if it is anything like London’s Oyster, it will have huge benefits, including the ability to get rid of fare zones and have distance based fares instead. If done properly, it would provide lower cost for shorter travel and eliminate the high cost of crossing a boundary. Time of day and different modes could be differently treated too.

    London gives a large discount for using Olyster – so significant that hardly anybody uses cash in London anymore. A single journey in one zone on the Underground cash is 4.30 pounds (around $6). With the Oyster it is 2.00 pounds (or about $3.50) with a daily price cap of around 8 pounds.

    The bus is similar with 2.30 pounds cash and $1.35 using Oyster with a daily cap around 4 pounds. Keep in mid that fares are not integrated in Europe – you always pay again when you change mode (bus-train-underground-tram).

    You can also load travelcards on the Oyster (daypasses, monthly passes, etc) – so for example, you would charge the monthly amount to your Oyster and the system knows that all your trips are now unlimited for that time period – you still tap in and out and that provides data to help the system understand where the demand is.

    On faregates – I don’t know. Many systems use the honour system. Most of the German U0-bahns and s-bahns do not have any fare-gates and they felt safe and seemed to work well. you don’t need a fategate for the compass card to work – tapping in and out would be no different to buying a ticket today.

    There will be lineups when there are events to the point where all gates might be needed for either inbound or outbound. In London this happens and if you look at the Underground map, several stations are marked “exit” only during these time periods. Or a certain times, traffic is restricted to improve traffic flow.

    Attendants will not be necessary, but would be desirable. In London, when you leave the system you have to give up your ticket or tap out.If have a ticket and did not pay enough, you then have to pay beofre you can leave – attendants are there so you just pay them. With Oyster it just adjusts the charge on the card. I had a friend who got stuck in the Toronto subway in a turnstile at an unstaffed staiton. She had to wait for another person to come in the station to help. The design of the Vancouver faregates should not be a problem for getting stuck, but you never never know what can happen.

  • By David M, February 14, 2012 @ 12:45 pm

    I like Geralds idea for how the card should work. A single product that gives you the lowest charge for whatever use you make of it.

    I’m interested to know how the card will handle transfers. Will it track the time of the first tap-in, then not charge for subsequent tap-ins for a set duraiton of time (say 90 minutes as per the existing transfer policy)?

  • By John, February 15, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    What about the 99 bus, people call it the free line for a reason Ive had friends living in UBC for the summer from foreign countries saying they never paid for the bus for the whole summer and fines do not work for out of towners. I have also used the skytrain for 6 months with a valid ticket and not been checked even once, whats the incentive to buy one should I have morals? Also bus drivers dont even check monthly bus tickets I rode on the bus for 3 months with the September ticket. eventually someone asked to look more closely. Ive rode the bus and skytrain for 2 years now and only asked once to scratch the zone thingy off. Whats the problem with a beeper for the monthly tickets. Maybe if transit stopped being free for so many people the vehicle drivers wouldnt have to subsidise it so much with levy after levy. So a driver coming from POCO will have to pay for transit through gas surcharges and also pay for the road with the new Portmann toll gantry. How is that fair. Some areas it is unfeasible to take transit

  • By Pumpkin, February 16, 2012 @ 10:36 am

    I would argue that the issue of mobility for those who simply cannot afford it is very important. Fare evasion happens for two reasons. It is either opportunity to not pay, or in most cases, not having the money required. Personally, as my family is low income it is very difficult for us to afford a bus pass for me to go to school. Some bus drivers are nice to me and they let me off with paying half the fare (which is still rather significant considering my annual household income is less than $10,000) and I am very thankful.

    If Translink offered a discount for those who can demonstarte legitimate need I’m sure you would be able to lower the fare evasion percentage further, and you would be gaining more money as a result. Installing security measures will only result in some fare evaders not bothering with Translink at all, which still equals a loss for your company.

    Translink can gain back some of the lost business by making travel more accessible and affordable. As a major transportation provider for the Lower Mainland, it is your responsibility, and additionally doing something like this would be in your best interests for profit.

  • By Joey Connick, February 16, 2012 @ 1:11 pm

    Has anyone noticed the number of faregates they are putting in at the stadium entrance to Stadium-Chinatown? I nearly fell over: three. That’s right–one of the stations most likely to experience crush loading and at the busiest entrance during these times (aka any sporting or concert event), they are putting in just THREE faregates.

    The faregate project is such an unnecessary, overpriced, wasteful, and ill-conceived boondoggle, there’s no proper way to describe it.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 16, 2012 @ 2:48 pm

    Hi Joey: I have to respectfully disagree with you about the faregates. First, tapping on and off with the faregates will only take a second. Second, Stadium station is also a station where we know that there can be very high volumes of customers. Therefore, TransLink is preparing for that (I’ll look into the specifics on this). Third, faregates are part of the data collection that comes with Compass card which will provide invaluable insight into how people are using the system. Fourth, faregates are part of providing a secure service to customers. Fifth, they will help to reduce fare evasion.

    Thanks for your comments. If you have any more I’ll try my best to answer them. I haven’t looked at the faregates in detail at Stadium, so I’ll do that now!

  • By Christian, February 16, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

    you do also have to remember that stadium Chinatown station has 3 entrances, so one entrance may have 3 turnstiles, the other 2 may have 5 or 6 (not sure on the specifics.)

  • By Joey Connick, February 16, 2012 @ 11:55 pm

    @Robert: “tapping on and off with the faregates will only take a second” — Sorry, is that what they said when they introduced the new electronic fare boxes on buses? Because that was a complete and utter disaster that I witnessed first-hand while at UBC and was obviously the major impetus for switching to all-door boarding of the 99. Adding even a few seconds delay per rider/user will create havoc during events.

    Preparing for high volumes at Stadium-Chinatown: it would be useful if all the faregate signage (indicating how many faregates were being installed and their configuration) were available online (I can’t seem to find any of it, although maybe I missed it). Nonetheless, despite Christian’s supposition, I *do* know there are two other entrances to the Stadium-Chinatown station. Those other two are irrelevant to my point, because the Expo Blvd (Event) entrance is very clearly the main entrance that is going to be used by people going to and coming from Rogers Arena. (The plaza entrance is particularly irrelevant because it would require backtracking/detouring for people coming from Rogers Arena.) So unless I misread the faregate signage there or they’re going to keep the current temporary entrance open and install more faregates at that entrance, that aspect of the faregate project will be an unmitigated disaster.

    Faregates are part of the data collection that comes with Compass: gods, are you TransLink people STILL flogging that tired chestnut? There is NOTHING about the use of electronic farecards that requires the installation of faregates. NOTHING. TransLink’s deliberate and deceitful choice to constantly lump these two disparate projects together is completely criminal. There is no reason to think that users need to be *forced* to tap off Sky Train in order to maintain “data integrity.” If fare evasion is at less than 3% and fell considerably from 2002 to 2008, than why would one assume that, with the advent of electronic farecards, the riders providing more than 97% of proper fares would start cheating by refusing to tap on and off the system? Electronic farecards could totally have been implemented without the need for faregates. TransLink refuses to acknowledge this because it makes it seem like the imposition of faregates has popular support when really, the promised ease-of-use of electronic fare media is the part of the project that is highly desirable by users. The only way faregate imposition receives public support when separated from the implementation of electronic farecards is two-fold: the perception of high fare evasion, a perception that is inaccurate and flawed (as grudgingly admitted in this very blog post); and the perception that faregates will increase the “safety” of the system.

    Which brings us to your fourth point, that faregates are part of providing a “secure” service to customers. Even more egregiously deceitful than the non-stop bundling of faregates and electronic farecards, this outrageous claim is nothing less than a thinly-veiled attack on the poor and downtrodden. Considering the system has operated for over 25 years WITHOUT barries and is hardly considered unsafe, this claim has no basis in reality. The propensity for an individual to evade fares has absolutely ZERO to do with any kind of propensity towards violence or any other kind of behaviour that may threaten the safety of fare-paying TransLink users. The notion that faregates will somehow enhance the “safety” of SkyTrain, let alone buses, is so riddled with class stereotypes it beggars the imagination. It presumes that fare evaders are criminals along the lines of violent offenders, but implicit in this association is the nose-in-the-air assumption that only the working classes or lower would evade paying fares. It is beyond shameful that TransLink is playing up the completely ludicrous idea that the poor and homeless of Vancouver pose some kind of physical threat to “the rest of us” (or that they are the only “class” of people who evade paying fares) to drum up support for the imposition of faregates. Talk about relying on people’s most base natures. And the notion that a plastic paddle that can easily be hopped over by someone able-bodied or a $2.50 (or even $5.00) fare will “protect” anyone from someone who *actually* wants to do them harm is beyond belief. The only thing faregates will “protect” TransLink customers from is the “distasteful” experience of having to rub shoulders with the poor and lower-class.

    If TransLink were *actually* concerned about the safety of customers on the system, they would be hiring more attendants, not installing unneeded faregates.

    As to your fifth point, I’m sure that’s been more than adequately covered here, but the notion that recouping about a third of the estimated unpaid fares is worth a project whose capital costs, let alone operating and maintenance costs, won’t be covered until roughly the end-of-life of the equipment being installed shows exactly where TransLink’s priorities lie. And I can assure you that’s not in the realm of making financially sound decisions about how to spend taxpayers’ and riders’ money.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 17, 2012 @ 11:54 am

    Hi Joey: Thanks for the comment. You’re certainly passionate about the subject and have done some homework on it. I’d like to weigh in on a few of your comments:

    Time to tap on and off:

    I agree that mag-stripe systems do slow things down and there have been some durability problems with tickets and cards. The Compass card system will be essentially the same as used in London and Hong Kong and card readers will complete the transaction in 3/1000 of a second, almost the same time it takes to flash the pass at the operator.

    Faregates and Stadium station:

    I haven’t seen the diagrams for the faregates on this system yet, so I can’t help in that regard. The experience at Stadium after major events is that the slowdown is mostly to do with needing to limit the number of people on the platform. This is something TransLink is working on.

    Faregates as they relate to data collection:

    There is a wide range of opinion on this issue among customers. With some justification, some believe that more closely enforcing fare payment will keep at least some disruptive elements off of the system. The data collected will be extremely valuable in a number of ways. Just today, I heard of a new scheduling system being developed at Coast Mountain that will fine tune driver assignments based on the level of passenger demand. Right now, we estimate that 80 per cent of SkyTrain passengers transfer from or to a bus in the course of their trip, and by requiring riders to tap on and tap off (something the gates will support), we will have better data to schedule transit staff and buses, including even the size of the bus operating on given routes at certain periods.

    Faregate debate aside, faregates are being installed, so their true value will be measured soon enough.

    Faregates help security:

    Again, perceptions of safety on SkyTrain and the system are varied. There are much deeper issues at stake, especially the one you’ve highlighted concerning poor people. It brings up the aspect of transit as a public/social service and the importance of that service to people who are having a hard time for a variety of personal or economic reasons. Clearly there is value to accommodating these people, but we have to reconcile the fact that there is a cost to the service they are using that is being covered by fare-paying customers and taxpayers at large; dollars that would otherwise go into service improvements and expansion.

    There is no move on our part to lump criminality in with being poor. This point however, has been made by customers on this blog, Facebook, Twitter and our other customer service channels.

    Joey, I’m generally curious about your thoughts on the question I included in the post – If someone does not have the means to pay, what is TransLink’s (and therefore tax payers) responsibility to provide mobility to them?

    If TransLink cares about security:

    I can assure you that we do. More attendants are indeed being hired alongside the implementation of faregates.

    Making sound money decisions:

    TransLink has long maintained that the capital and operating costs of faregates would not be covered by a reduction in revenue lost to fare evasion. I’ve made this comment here as well. However, with the $70 million in capital funding for faregates (including the renovations required at stations) being covered by the provincial and federal governments, TransLink has been relieved of about $7 million per year in debt service payments that we would have otherwise had to cover from our own revenues.

    I thank you for your comments. I’d like to remind everyone of the house rules of the blog and to be respectful in our discussions.

  • By Voony, February 17, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

    First, tapping on and off with the faregates will only take a second

    (may be it take 1/3000 of s to complete a Transaction, but human speed is such it will take nearly one second between two transaction)…and that is assuming regular commuter familiar with the system (now how, where and when to tap), not the kind of person likely to be at the end of an event.

    That is the expo bld entrance of stadium station will not be able to process more than 180 person/mn. On the platform it can be a 600 capacity train every mn, per direction…so sure the entrance is not sized for event…even keeping the gates open…what Translink will probably need to do (like TTC does even daily at rush hour). because the gate will slow down too much the crowd !

    that is the reason why many Japanese systems have flow free gates (they stay open as default position).

    some other flow efficient gate, are the flap gates (as seen in SFO BART, Washington DC subway, KongKong MTR and many modern asian system, but even with this gate only pipe dreamer or the “gate: seller can say it has a capacity of 60 person per mn, it is in reality much closer to 45 person/mn.

    because those gate, are eventually easy to jump on, many system, use sliding gate (Oslo, Stockholm, Lyon, new station in Paris or barceloan..): Itt is the defacto standard in Europe nowadays:
    the inconvenience is that they need to be wider than flap gate (because they are at shoulder height when the flap gate are at hip height): so if each gate has same capacity as a flap gate, you can install less of them on a line.

    When the turnstile gate has been made obsolete by the flap gate, the paddle gate has been made obsolete by the sliding gate because it is much less efficient for obvious reason:

    flap gate hit you on the hip, sliding gate hit you on the shoulder, paddle gate hit you right into your face when you are probably moving forward it, not very pleasant: so they can’t safely close as fast as the former…but because they are rotating, need to go much faster to close in the same time:
    a bit of trigonometry travel length of the far edge of the paddle is πr/2 when the travel length of the far edge of the sliding door is r, so one could need to travel 50% more than the other, but can’t go at faster speed, and rather need to do at much less speed. Worst the paddling gate will takes 4 more time than the sliding gate to close the final 15% gap, assuming same speed (one has to travel r(1-cos(30e)) when the other has to travel πr/6).

    Like turnstiles, those gates have much lower capacity than be sliding or flap gate: That is the main reason why you will not see them in any new decent system…who would want to go with such an antiqued because limited technology?

    What kind of gate Translink gonna install ?

    Bottom line
    fare gate cost time, it could be not too much, 1s or so with flap or sliding gate, but multiply per 2 per trips, you end up with a societal cost of several millions of dollar/year ! Time saving is rational for Translink and other government, to spend money on large infrastructure, like Port Mann bridge, or Golden Ears Bridge, is to save time)…here in its business plan Translink didn’t even bother to quantify it, but we spend tax dollar to loose more time in transit!

    By the way how serious you can consider the Translink number?
    The buzzer 2004 says it could cost $24m to operate the gates, Kevin Falcon decide we will have it, and magically Translink reduce this operating cost to $16m including everything – well there is no reason why smartcard could be more expensive to operate than magnetic strip, in fact smartcard reader having no mechanical part should be much cheaper too maintain -and there is no expensive printing of fare media too), so you can guess an excess of $10m is for the maintenance of the fare-gate alone, supposed to recover $7m in fare evasion (all the other positive externalities of the scheme being attributable to the smartcard itself)…anyway the Translink numbers look so cooked that even Robert is confused by them…Robert, you mention that the fare-gate will cost $70m, when the faq section says it will cost $100m (and $30 paid by Translink itself), and that is for the faregate alone, the smartcard system itself cost $70 millions.

    PS: Robert, in the FAQ, it is mentioned that the faregate will cost 100 millions

  • By Dave 2, February 18, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

    re faregates and smartcards… without gates, how can you tell that someone didn’t just walk in without ‘tapping in’ his/her card? I suppose the transit police could scan the card to see if it registers a journey in progress… maybe in 50 years, “robocop” will be doing fare checks.

  • By ;-), February 19, 2012 @ 12:33 am

    I was in Seattle in the Fall. While on their LRT, I witnessed a surprise fare inspection. They has something similar to the upcoming Compass card. I found this picture of a handheld scanner where they reviewed which passengers had tapped their cards and who did not.

  • By Jack Hope, February 19, 2012 @ 1:43 am

    The Orca cards in Seattle are exactly the same thing as the Compass cards (Calgary is also getting smart cards this year) and they require tap on and tap off. Link Light Rail though doesn’t have fare gates but people tap off because if they don’t they get charged a full fare. Similarly tapping on a bus after a light rail trip also counts as tapping off of train.

    So really in terms of data the fare gates in Vancouver will provide very little additional value, only catching those few who might forget to tap off when coming off the Skytrain and aren’t connecting to a bus.

    The Netherlands also uses a similar setup although their card works nationally on any transit system in the country. Some parts of Amsterdam’s network uses fare gates but most is still on the honour system including their tram and light rail routes and part of their metro. Frequent announcements remind passengers in both English and Dutch to tap off and from what I was told compliance was very high.

  • By Erik G., February 19, 2012 @ 5:07 am

    Again, Oslo has tried to install gates, but cannot get their RFID card to function properly, having tried to implement both at the same time

    A preview of things to come at Translink?

  • By John B, February 19, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    I think to make the system safer, they need to hire more Transit Security. That way there is more fare enforcement, plus the added safety of the extra Officers on the system.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 20, 2012 @ 1:06 pm

    Vooney: The FAQ’s section of the Compass card on the TransLink website is going to be updated soon. Here’s the right info on costs: The total Compass Card/Faregates project is $171 million. Of that, $70 million is for faregates (including station reno’s) and the $101 million is for the Compass Card system, which includes $84 million for Cubit and $17 million for other aspects of the project.

    John B: We are hiring some more security on the system.

    Thanks for the comments! This is going to be a hot topic this year and next for sure!

  • By Voony, February 20, 2012 @ 7:26 pm

    Robert, it s not only the FAQ which should need to be updated then: The business plan presented to the mayor and all the press release since the last 2 years, and virtually all the published document by Translink states $100 million is for faregates (including station reno’s)…Ottawa paying 30 million up or to 30% of the cost of the project,

    Now, you say is in fact $70M: Do that means your organization has purposely lied to the public and the government to be able to milk more money from them ?

    Is that the reason why the full business case for the project is secret?

    Now with your new number: You also say that the Compass system is $101 million (upward of $70m):

    * Orca (Seattle/Puget sound area including lot of system, like Washington ferries, ~2000 buses…) is $40 million (operating cost 3 millions, to compare to the $16 millions of the “fraegate/smartcard” translink project).
    * ETS (Edmonton) has recently estimated a smartcard (for its close to 1000 bus + LRT system) at $25 millions.

    How Translink can explain Compass is so much more expensive than other comparable system?

    Honestly, the more you look at this faregate project, the more the thing look suspicious when not outright looking deceiptful.

    Thanks for your answer.

  • By Accophox, February 21, 2012 @ 11:12 am

    I have to agree with Voony: There’s something drastically wrong when a smaller transit agency needs to pay a hell of a lot more for maintenance and implementation. ORCA covers a much larger area and multiple transit districts/companies, and likely more vehicles, but costs 40M less. Something is very wrong with this picture.

    **What’s specific to our system that makes our contract 40-60M more?**

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 21, 2012 @ 4:50 pm

    Hi Vooney and Accophox:

    The information I’ve been given for the cost of faregates, including reno’s, is $70 million. I’m told there will be additional expenses at stations for new fare card ticket machines and add-fare machines that are solely for Compass card and which will be paid for out of that budget (no provincial/federal dollars).

    Certain information in the business case, all subject to review by the FOIPP office and appeal by the media and the public, has been withheld because there are legitimate rights to keep certain details private, notably those that, if released, would unduly harm companies working with TransLink on the project.

    With respect to the cost comparisons with other agencies, it’s difficult to compare projects because TransLink’s project is far bigger than most especially considering our systems is integrating many modes of transport.

    Filing a freedom of information request is something that’s great to do in our democracy and I encourage more people to do it. I’ve done them myself and find them very informative.

    That said, I’ll try my best to answer questions on fare evasion. I don’t know any more about the costs beyond what I’ve commented on already, so I can’t be more more help there.

    I would love to get more comments on question #3 though: If someone does not have the means to pay, what is TransLink’s (and therefore tax payers) responsibility to provide mobility to them?

  • By Acco, February 21, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    @Robert – I thank you for the time you’ve put into this thread thusfar, it’s been informative about some of the processes in Translink. I’d welcome another buzzer post regarding all aspects of Compass that can be publicly divulged (as well as associated Q&A in the comments). I still think that the entire idea of going for a smartcard fare system is a great idea… but I would welcome more transparency in the issue, given some of the expenses are funded by taxpayer dollars.


    I know I’ve said my piece on the third issue… but let me try to tackle it from another perspective. Now, I’m not exactly sure what Translink is as an entity in corporate-speak. But I think we can agree that the understood directive is creating a “public” good: the running, maintenance, and expansion of transit system for Metro Vancouver. A large majority (about 56%, according to the 2011 budget) of Translink’s funding is through taxation – property and fuel surcharges being the major ones. And I’d bet a majority of people that pay larger chunks of those taxes are better off than most people taking public transit.

    Framing this in a larger perspective – was the intended goal of the taxes to subsidize transit for the have-nots? I’d certainly think so. Without them, the cost of a standard transfer (along with all other valid forms of proof of payment) would be some ungodly number, putting a ridiculous amount of strain on the have-nots.

    The question then is: is this subsidy provided enough? I’d argue it’s within range. People should have to pay something for a service like this, if they’re able bodied. I’m sure it could be argued that there should be more equalization of the income disparity, but that’s another topic. Certainly if they’re disabled in some way, we can (and do!) give affordances to those people. People that choose to not work don’t really contribute to society and shouldn’t be given a “free ride”.

  • By Dave 2, February 21, 2012 @ 8:51 pm

    If nothing else, this thread has verified that the Buzzer Blog response counter can handle three digit numbers :) The cost of this new feature may not rival that of the faregates, but tonight at Burrard Station I heard a faint recorded announcement in the ticket concourse level.. “What fresh hell is this?” I thought.. Turns out, it was the escalator, providing helpful tips like “watch your step”, and “strollers are not permitted”. Talking escalators… we’ll see if they make any difference

  • By John B, February 22, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

    @ Robert That’s great to hear they are hiring more security. I think having more Transit Security on the buses is a must!

  • By Birddogjock, March 27, 2012 @ 12:01 am

    I’m curious on what the stats are for how many tickets actually get paid. I see lots of them being given out, and hear the fines are pretty big, but does Translink actually get payments on the fines issued?

    Good question, Amanda…and unfortunately, the answer is that only a small percentage of the fines are paid, and TransLink gets none of the fines that are. The money goes to general revenue for the province.

  • By Dale, June 25, 2012 @ 7:12 pm

    How will faregates solve the problem of fare evasion by people using concession fare media who are not entitled to use concession fare media?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, July 24, 2012 @ 3:47 pm

    Dale: I believe we’ll still be conducting spot checks, especially at stations that won’t have gates right away.

  • By Jane, September 6, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

    Hmmm I thought I’d pipe in as this topic has become of particular interest to me after receiving my first fare evasion ticket. Now I live in Langley so considering the lack of good transit (and absence of any skytrains) I don’t take transit much but from time to time on the weekend or evenings I take bus/skytrain downtown. One Friday this past summer I was in Vancouver and took the skytrain back to Surrey and of course (having a blonde moment) I completely forgot about this whole zone thing we have…the only time I’ve ever crossed zones is when they don’t matter! I bought my 1 zone ticket like I normally would and then when I got off at King George the transit police asked for my proof of payment. So, still clueless haha, I showed him my 1 zone ticket and he asked where I came from and I told him Vancouver and then just as I said it realized I was supposed to pay more. He went ahead and said I’m going to have to write you a ticket and I started crying. Not nice ones gross embarrassing tears and said “I’m so sorry I totally was thinking it was the weekend” (which is practically was 2pm on a Friday!) so anyways I was upset for sure but thought ok whatever I guess I’ll have to pay this then I looked at the price of the ticket $173!!! Seriously? That’s 69X the amount I owed! Pretty ridiculous in my opinion! A speeding ticket is less than that and causes a lot more possible harm to people than not paying for transit…

    Anyways I do agree that people should pay their fare and the appropriate amount (not saying that the amount due is appropriate all the time…like the example of Aldergrove to Tswassen being 1zone) but I think the amount if the evasion ticket is way too high and the system needs to be clearer for people not familiar with it. Imagine if you were visiting here and had no idea where things were. I was born and raised in Langley and I got confused. I lived in Montreal for a year and I think from what I saw their system was great! One flat rate, no zones, fare gates but more importantly there were people at the station to answer your questions/sell you the appropriate ticket! Even more great was they had this smart card that you could load multiple fares onto including ones from other cities, Quebec city for instance has the same card(different fare of course..)

    I love Vancouver and metro Vancouver but have been very disappointed with its transit system:(

  • By Eugene Wong, September 6, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

    @ Jane

    I just want to say that I have nothing against you. I’m a bit crabby right now, because of a Translink response to 1 of my requests, so some of that is probably going to rub off on you.

    It should be $173 or more, because it is expensive to have police serving us. Your fine should be the cost of the police plus the fare that you owe, plus more, so that we can deal with future problems, and because it might help you to remember to pay properly.

    Regarding your situation, you paid for 1 zone, so you should have got penalized for it. You were supposed to pay 3 zones. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand why you would associate a 3 zone trip with a 1 zone ticket. Were you using FareSavers? If so, then maybe Translink should have made a discount FareSaver, which would be literally be 1 zone, but then again that won’t help us when we forget that zones are in effect.

    Also, now that I am proofreading this, Translink shouldn’t have made a simple fare validater. The machine should ask us where we want to start from and go to, and then confirm whether or not we have inserted the correct FareSaver. This way, anybody who says, “Oh, I didn’t know that it cost that much.” would be accusing the machine of making a mistake.

    You mention transit service in Langley not being very good, and then you mention transit service from Aldergrove to Tswassen being 1 zone. As it is, with FareSavers, we are talking less than $4.10 [or something like that] for a return trip. Why should people travelling from Aldergrove to Tswassen pay higher prices? The frequency, as you stated, is not good. Vancouver city has a dense network of frequent service whereas Langley some bus routes. Translink has made an effort to encourage transit by allowing us to ride further in Zone 3. We can’t have the higher level of service in the near future, so this seems fair.

    Here’s another way of looking at it. Which would you rather be given for free? 90 minutes on *only* the Canada Line or 90 on the trip from Langley to Tswassen? Canada Line has 2 shopping malls, a couple shopping districts, frequent service and wonderful connections. The bus option has…?

    The truth is that you probably can’t travel from Aldergrove to Tsawassen. You would barely make it to Ladner. That would create a natural time boundary to make you pay more. So, in effect, you’d pay well over $8 for a return trip, and some of that ticket time would be unused.

    If you do take transit normally, then I encourage you to buy FareSavers. They are the same length as credit cards, and they can be stuffed in your wallet. You just pull them out from the back, and the number in the top right corner tells you how many FareSavers you have left. For example, the last FareSaver has 9, which means, after pulling out the last FareSaver, you have 9 FareSavers left. When you pull out the first FareSavers, there should be a 0 in the top right corner, and you should have none left. When you buy them, you should hopefully get that personal level of service that you need.

    Also, you could ask bus drivers.

    Also, there should be phone at each station for any questions that you have.

    That being said, the tap system will be helpful to those who want to pay, but not think about the cash. We just have to load it up every so often, and let the system do the math, which would actually make it more painless psychologically speaking. I recall reading about distancing the payment from the service/product.

    That’s not going to help fare gate advocates, when they forget to load up the card. I can’t imagine somebody calling for fare gates, then forgetting to load it up, and then saying, “I have a job interview in exactly 30 minutes, and no cash on the card. I’m desperate for work. They won’t let me get on. Well ‘fare’ is ‘fair’.”

    At least with the honour system, we physically had the opportunity to ‘play’ now and pay later.

    I always hear, “We are grown adults. You can trust us. We don’t need somebody looking over our shoulder all the time.” as well as “It’s too confusing! Why isn’t there customer service? Install fare gates.”. It’s a total contradiction.

    For all those who keep calling for fare gates: I can only assume that we do not need fare gates for you, despite you being caught. I really don’t mean to be condescending, but instead of calling for fare gates, it might have been easier for you to just walk to the station phone [or any wall, for that matter], tap it with your ticket, wait 1 second, and then go to the platform level. This way, you don’t have to stand in line behind somebody, and you definitely won’t have problems with broken gates. If you’re unsure, you could use the phone every single time you use the transit system, which would be the same as the staffed systems that you like. Likewise, you could also ask the staff, security, and police whenever you see them.

    For honourable people, paying the full fare is never a problem, because there are opportunities to pay back, and because there are more information opportunities than each individual needs. I say this as somebody who has *often* forgot the proper fare, but *did* pay back when nobody was looking.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, September 7, 2012 @ 10:59 am

    Jane: Thanks for the comment. I have to agree with Euguene about paying your fine. I did want to add that we will be looking at the zone system next year. We’ve heard similar complaints about the zone system before and will be using the Compass card data to see if there is different/better way to set our fare structure.

  • By Anita Stocker, November 17, 2012 @ 5:42 pm

    I work with people who are homeless/low income. I know many commit fare evasion. How are you suppose to get around when welfare is 610/mo? Rent and food are not cheap, it takes most (but really I should be saying all) of the 610 and not much left over to pay for transit. If you are homeless, think about how much one could spend going to look for housing. I don’t think they should ride free, but some sort of discount would be oh so helpful. Then MAYBE they could get to their appointments, find housing, find a job, go to the food bank, etc. The list goes on. And fining $173 when I get 610/month that’s ludicrous! Trust me, I want people to pay their own way, if Translink and the Ministry put their heads together, I am sure they could figure something out, and my clients would pay.

  • By learer, November 22, 2012 @ 6:58 pm

    I’m doubting sometime when an audit will be conducted against translink, why the fare is increased with shortened time span while the wage is increased so little? And who knows what they have done after their revenue is increased? will a fair audit be conducted against that?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, November 26, 2012 @ 10:48 am

    Hi learer: in fact, the Province of BC conducted an independent audit of TransLink’s work in October that you can read about here. Hope that might provide some of the answers you are looking for!

  • By Jane, November 30, 2012 @ 6:46 pm

    I didn’t respond for a long while because I was quite upset with your response Eugene and the fact that my car died less than a week after I got this ticket plus I didn’t mention because I didn’t want to receive pity that I was on my way to a funeral and like I say I was bawling my eyes out because my head was not there at the time….all this stuff is not translinks fault and I fully understand that however they showed very little sympathy on an honest mistake…you mention honorable people, not trying to be egotistical but I am an honorable person I would never dream of cheating the system and I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I purposefully did. Like I said the only times I have ever crossed a zone was the evenings or weekends so it’s always only been a 1zone fare plus before this time I hadn’t taken transit in Metro Vancouver for who knows how long. Now I’m actually living in Vancouver and have not bought a car because I wanted to try out transit and its been pretty good (I was planning to do this before my incident) but I have gone back to visit Langley and am reminded how terrible it is out there which why I never used it….I’m not saying I wasn’t guilty however I didn’t realize I was at the time…It was the summer and I was between jobs (I often work contract jobs) to boot so in my schedule it was the weekend now I know the weekend for me doesn’t mean that I get to jump zones but it was an honest mistake. I just don’t see why the fine is so expensive! Plus the ads for the $173 fine was for after I got my fine….I did file a dispute to try to lower the cost because I still think it is a ridiculous amount. You’re argument about the police doesn’t make any sense in my opinion because the police would have to be there whether people evade the fares or not….so if everyone obeyed that law are you saying the police won’t get paid?? Anyways I’m sure you’re a nice person and had a bad day too but I felt you’re response very hurtful…fortunately I don’t take things too seriously :)

    I’ve started liking public transit again but would like to know if there’s ever going to be a skytrain line out to Langley?? They are part of the GVRD and get all the gas taxes and from translink but very little benefit…oh except being able to use 1 zone to get to Ladner…I know very few people who would consider doing that…

  • By Eugene Wong, December 1, 2012 @ 4:10 am

    @ Jane

    Thank you for expressing your feelings to me. I’m sad to read that your feelings hurt because of what I wrote.

    That being said, I’m still a bit skeptical about what you did on the day that you were fined. I get the impression that you paid by cash, or credit card. If that is true, then there should be no price mix up. The only mix ups should occur when you used the wrong FareSaver. I assume that you didn’t use them, because people seem to have an aversion to them when not using transit often.

    I must admit that I am kind of torn between what you said at first, and what you just wrote. I get the impression that there is simply a miscommunication between you and me. I don’t see how you could pay the wrong price without FareSavers. Maybe my confusion is related to my own paying habits. *shrug*

    As for the right penalty, I simply disagree with you on that, but I’m sure that I’ll sing a different tune if I make a mistake and get caught. Then again, the government fined me way too much due to a couple of tax things, if I understand correctly. However, I decided to pick my battles, and let them have it. I normally get a lot from the government anyways.

    Regarding paying for policing costs, yes, we would have to pay for them no matter what, but there will always be deliberate rule breakers, no matter what. I just want the costs to be paid by them. If we want smaller government, then that means simpler government, also.

    I’m sad to read of the funeral.

    Hmm. I honestly don’t want to think about this much, so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and just assume that you meant well, and that you aren’t quite getting your message across.

    As a well intentioned gesture only, I’m going to offer advice, to ensure that you don’t run into this problem in the future. Seeing as you live in Vancouver, you probably have a month pass, or maybe you use FareSavers, so this advice probably won’t apply. However, I want to offer it, just in case.

    When you go to the fare machine, please select the number of zones that you want to travel, not the number of zones that you think is associated with the correct price. This is a *huge* difference during the week days. If you press “3 Zones” or whatever it says, during the weekend and evenings, then you’ll find that it still allows you to pay a 1 zone fare. This helps to ensure that there is no confusion.

    If I understand you correctly, you probably thought, “Well, it’s 1 zone on the weekends, so I’ll punch in 1 zone, and then pay a 1 zone fare.”. Legally, it’s not a problem at all on weekends, and during evenings, but it wasn’t the correct selection.

    Technically, the machine is a cash collector, but it is also a customer service machine that is supposed to help you select the correct fare.

    Unfortunately, if you get into habits like mine, then you’ll probably still make mistakes, but at least, you should be okay with cash and various cards during the week.

    Please let me know if I understand you correctly. I don’t mind rephrasing if it would help. Also, I do have another tip that might help you save a dollar or 2, once in a blue moon, but I want to be sure that we are clear on the first bit of advice.

    As for me being nice in person, I hesitate to say, because I hate disappointing people so much. :^) Thanks, though.

  • By Jane, December 1, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

    Hi Eugene,

    Thank you for your response. Don’t beat yourself up, I’m very thankful for your advice anything to make transit run smoother is great in my books!

    My mistake was punching 1 zone instead of 3 thinking it was okay since it was the “weekend”. It was a very dumb mistake I know but I didn’t realize that the machine would know to switch the fares depending on the time of day so thanks:) I’ll be sure to let my friends know as this isn’t a well known fact to occasional transit users. Yes I’ve now been purchasing month passes for one zone and adding fares when I have to go back to Langley I’ve learnt my lesson and I’m a little paranoid so I often triple check my ticket now just to be sure! lol it wasn’t just the ticket itself it was also the humiliation, people looking at me like I was a terrible person. I actually saw officers issuing a ticket a few weeks after I got mine and I don’t know the situation but it didn’t look good the officers were laughing while giving the ticket but the evader was not at all now maybe he was a regular offender but how would they know? Anyways I hope the officers aren’t abusing this, they’re suppose to make us feel safe right? Yeah I have yet to hear about a court date for my ticket, if it comes down to it I will pay but I thought I might as well try especially at the time I was very strapped for cash and $173 is a lot of money!! Fortunately since taking transit I’ve saved a ton you don’t realize how much cars cost until you stop driving them!
    But unfortunately cars are a must in the valley, unless you happen to live, work and socialize in the few areas where transit is I’ll say acceptable…where I lived not so much…though I don’t see why not as it’s one of the fastest growing areas of Langley…I will cross my fingers for the future so I can visit my family easier! :) I do prefer living green!

  • By Eugene Wong, December 2, 2012 @ 2:11 am

    @ Jane

    Hi. :^)

    I’m glad that it was just a mistake. Maybe you could use that explanation in court.

    My second bit of advice is for dealing with add fares and zone increases. It turns out that you could buy a 1 Zone fare just before 6:30p, and then use it to cross the zone boundaries after 6:30p.

    For example, imagine being at Waterfront Station at about 6:15p. You could get on a train, and travel until Joyce Station. You would stay at the station until 6:30p, and then carry on with your trip, without the add fare.

    It takes about 10-15 minutes to travel to Joyce Station, so you could begin your trip before the discount period. I often waited at Scott Road station to pass over the Fraser River.

    A third option is to pay only to add a zone, instead of 2 zones. You could leave Waterfront Station at about 6:00p, and then wait at Columbia Station.

    I hope that that helps.

    Thanks for using transit!

  • By Jane, December 2, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

    Hi Eugene,

    Yeah well I do plan to be honest in court though I could stretch the truth if I really wanted to…you know my violation ticket doesn’t quite add up…it says “failure to provide proof of payment” but it doesn’t say where I started and ended and I do have my ticket that still had time on it so unless I’m missing something I could very well go back on my word of saying that I came from Vancouver and just say I was at Scott Road lol but I don’t think I could do that, I wouldn’t feel right about it plus I’m a terrible lier. haha

    Thanks yeah thats true about adding a fare right before 6:30, a friend of mine and I were actually talking about that and how I’m sure there are people who do that all the time, or what about people who live and work in different zones but really it’s only 1/ 2 stops(like right by boundary) …there should really be a middle zone or some sort of thing for people that live there…

    What about getting your add fare half way through your trip? Is that considered fare evasion I’ll admit I’ve done it a few times because I had no cash so I used my month pass on the bus then when I got to the skytrain (still the same zone) I added my fare using debit…I also got a coffee cause as I said before I am a little paranoid, like someones watching me or something haha so I figure they can’t say anything if I’ve technically just taken 2 trips :s

  • By Eugene Wong, December 2, 2012 @ 10:43 pm

    I don’t think that it’s fare evasion to buy the addfare part way through the trip. I have done that before. I can’t remember all the details. I think that I started with a 2 zone fare, and then added a zone at the tail end of the first trip, and the addfare lasted into the beginning of the return trip, since I was just running a quick errand. The funny thing is that the addfare expired before I crossed the zone boundary, but I had no problems with it, because my return trip began before expiry.

  • By learer, December 2, 2012 @ 11:00 pm

    the more complicated the rule , the more chances to issue tickets. If all the zones are harmonized, then there is no opportunity to earn such a good deal from infraction penalties.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, December 4, 2012 @ 11:08 am

    Jane and Eugene: I just read your exchange. I have to say that I love to read such a detailed account of the challenges to do with transit fines and how the two of you helped each other see your two points of view. I’m glad the blog can facilitate this discussion!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, December 4, 2012 @ 11:09 am

    learner: The fare zone will be looked at again after the Compass Card comes online. Thanks!

  • By Jane, December 4, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

    Hi learner,

    I agree it seems like the system has had new rules added over time which now has become a little too complicated! I work with kids and it’s not much different of a concept, things should be black and white for the most part, these grey areas allow for bending of the rules. As an offender (I hate to have to call myself) I hope they are able to give warnings when it seems the people made a mistake but I do understand that they’re cracking down and send a message to repeat offenders.

  • By Jane, December 4, 2012 @ 5:23 pm


    Yeah that’s one of those grey areas in the rules I guess!

  • By Jane, December 4, 2012 @ 5:31 pm

    Thanks Robert, as I said I was upset and when I first read Eugene’s response and decided it wasn’t a good idea to respond at the time but after a few months of taking transit and after noticing other posts on this thread thought it was an ok time to reflect and re-spark the conversation. I’d be interested to know your opinion on whether adding a fare half way through a trip (while still in the first zone) is ok. Would an officer be justified to fine someone if they got off the bus and then added their fare at the skytrain to cross zones? Also I have to say I was very happy to read about the new express bus to Langley! :) I have yet to try it but it looks like it will make going out there much easier and less stressful!

  • By Elliott, December 5, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

    Over the past year I have used Translink services a lot. My partner and I moved here in December 2011, and found that we hardly ever drive because the places we usually want to go are so well-served by public transportation.

    I have noted from personal observation that a good percentage of the people being written tickets for fare non-compliance tend to appear, at least outwardly, to be socially and financially marginalized to begin with. I do not know if it is even possible to keep statistics on the “type” of fare evader receiving tickets but if I had to guess I’d say that a lot of people who just cannot afford the fare are being issued tickets. It’s just another consequence of poverty. I’ve long felt that access to public transit should be a bigger part of the social safety net. If you’re receiving welfare then you should not have to resort to breaking the law to get from place to place. Life is hard enough already.

    Moreover, if say 1/3 of the people being caught in fare checks would not be able to pay the fare anyway, then fare gates will not net any extra revenue from them. You might lower the rate of non-compliance but you won’t raise much extra revenue either. Such a result smacks of the entire exercise being more ideologically driven than by legitimate financial concerns. If it is true that the provincial government pressured Translink into this project, then I’d bet money that ideology more than practicality was the motivator. At any rate if the result is little net revenue gain, then this extra layer of complexity is just poor business. Time will tell.

    According to Transink’s own audit, there is a 2.5% system wide loss from fare evasion. That isn’t so different from the losses that retailers face from theft which range upwards of 2%. I think that upwards of 98% fare compliance is astounding. Even the 5.4% evasion rate on SkyTrain is something we should not hang our heads over. It means that 19 out of 20 of us are honest enough to pay even though there is no cashier or physical barrier and only a very slight chance of a consequence when caught. Maybe it’s just a fact that a certain percentage are going to steal if they can. I see fare gates as trying to fix a problem that wasn’t calling for a solution. Revenue leakage is inevitable, from people hopping on buses without paying, to staff pocketing pads of sticky notes. It’s just there and amounts to a cost of doing business.

  • By Paul Beaumont, January 26, 2013 @ 6:19 am

    Will the Skytrain faregates be in open position by default and only close when the customer has insufficient fare or does not swipe compass card like the optical gates used in Japan? This would minimize flow issues.

  • By Roy Marvelous, August 15, 2013 @ 4:58 pm

    I for one rather deal with faregates, than Transit police who racially profile me. (FYI, I purchase a 2-zone monthly pass every month)

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Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » Estimating fare evasion — February 10, 2012 @ 11:54 am

  2. The Buzzer blog » On the system – fare evasion — February 29, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

  3. The Buzzer blog » The March 2012 Buzzer and Andy Dixon: Buzzer illustrator interview — March 13, 2012 @ 8:02 am

  4. The Buzzer blog » New legislation introduced to better enforce fare evasion fines, plus a few more items — May 7, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  5. The Buzzer blog » TransLink 101: welcome to our February special post series! — February 5, 2013 @ 10:57 am

  6. Rapid transit on West Broadway – getting it right by learning from history | — May 16, 2013 @ 11:56 am

  7. Translink: ‘screwing the poor is our business model going forward’ | Critical Thoughts — August 14, 2013 @ 7:30 am

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