Gates and smart cards on the way at Skytrain
Skytrain stations in B.C.'s Lower Mainland will soon be outfitted with turnstiles, and users will have to adopt a Smart Card system, says the South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority (Translink).
The decision to end the infamous honour system was confirmed by B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon at a press conference in Vancouver, Wednesday.
Falcon says the turnstiles and Smart Cards will begin to be implemented by 2010, a move that he hopes will boost ridership on the system by making people feel more secure about taking the Skytrain.
"The only way you're going to make it successful is if people feel like they're safe. That's certainly the lesson in London and Amsterdam," Falcon said.
"They've seen an immediate reduction in criminal activities in their systems with the implementation of turnstiles and Smart Cards."
The Smart Card will work like a regular debit card, requiring passengers to prepa, load the card and then swipe it before and after they get off the train.
To obtain a card, Skytrain passengers will have to provide personal information.
Falcon says the cards, in conjunction with the turnstiles, should cut down on fare evaders, and is expected to increase Translink revenues by more than 20 per cent.
The cards will also give transit officials a better picture of who's causing trouble on platforms. This is because officials will have a detailed list of who is riding that particular line at the time.
Wednesday's announcement comes at a time when Skytrain is under heavy pressure to ramp up security measures.
Last month, B.C. New Democratic Party MLA Adrian Dix said TransLink wasn't doing enough to make the system safe for its users. He was referring to a string of attacks on women at Skytrain stations.
Dix collected 3,500 signatures on a petition demanding better security. The petition also made several proposals designed to increase safety, including better lighting, turnstiles and full-time security at all stations.
At the same time, Sheshleen Datt - an 18-year-old victim of a vicious Skytrain station attack in April - called on TransLink to make public transportation safer and more secure for all passengers.
"I just want to feel safe before going on the SkyTrain again," she said on May 20.
"It's not only me, but everyone needs to feel safe. People rely on transit for everyday life, going to work and everything, and we all need to be safe," she said.
At Wednesday's press conference, Kevin Falcon said the new measures will do a lot to make the transit system more secure and safe for people like Sheshleen.
"I think it encourages women to use the system late at night, especially at times when people feel a little less secure," says Falcon.