Full SkyTrain and SeaBus fare gate closures begin today

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Fare gates across all SkyTrain stations and SeaBus ferry terminals will begin to close beginning today, effectively completing one of the last remaining implementation phases of the Compass Card project.

Transit users will need to acquire a re-loadable smart card or a single-trip, disposable Compass Ticket from a machine in order to tap in and tap out of the closed fare gates. Closures will gradually occur throughout the work week into Friday, when all gates are closed.

During this transition period, TransLink says there will be additional staff at all SkyTrain stations and SeaBus terminals to assist transit users. When a station is not manned by any staff, one accessible fare gate will remain open so that disabled transit users without the use of their hands can continue to travel independently. This is a temporary measure until a more permanent, long-term solution to the wide-entry accessibility fare gates is developed.

As well, most fare gates at each location have been operating in a bi-directional mode since going online last year, which has caused conflicts at high-traffic stations during peak times. Eventually, the fare gates will be one-directional once TransLink has determined the passenger load patterns at times throughout the entire day of service.

Currently, Metrotown Station is the only SkyTrain station where there are no fare gates, but transit users are still being asked to tap in and tap out on the temporary card readers located in the concourse area before the escalator and staircase.

Fare gates have not been installed as the station is undergoing a $55.5 million retrofit project that consists of the construction of new and expanded entrances. Construction is scheduled to finish in late 2017.

This week’s fare gate closures come just days after a systemwide fare gate glitch that trapped transit users inside stations for up to 20 minutes.

In a news release over the weekend, the provincial government said 18,000 low-income seniors and people receiving disability assistance who live outside of Metro Vancouver will receive a Compass Card as part of the B.C. Bus Pass program.

“Those who live outside of Metro Vancouver currently hold BC Transit BC Bus Passes and many travel to the area to visit family or go to medical appointments,” reads the release. “With the new Compass Card, they can continue to access TransLink services when needed.”

Transit users across Metro Vancouver began changing how they accessed the transit system six months ago. Fare gate closures first began in early-October and the Compass Card was made available to the general public later that month, although university students and other groups began using the smart card months earlier as part of the testing phase.

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Kenneth Chan Deputy Editor & Social Media Manager at Vancity Buzz. He covers stories pertaining to local architecture, urban issues, politics, business, retail, economic development, transportation, infrastructure, and anything else that makes a difference in the lives of Vancouverites. Kenneth is also a Co-Founder of New Year's Eve Vancouver. Connect with him at kenneth[at]vancitybuzz.com
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