Fare Gates – Not As Advertised

TransLink’s fare-gates and Compass Card system was forced upon TransLink, not to reduce fare evasion, which was well within industry norms, but to ensure then Premier Campbell’s good friend, Ken Dobell, work as aAi?? lobbyist for Cubit Industries who make the fare gates. Lobbyists must be successful with their lobby of government or no one will hire them!

With a propaganda campaign orchestrated by the mainstream media worthy of Herr Goebbels himself, about those terrible fare evaders, the fare gates and Compass Card system is now fact.

Well, here is another take on fare evasion; no wonder Cubit was so intent to sell fare gates, they are becoming obsolete!


  • Date of Publication: 12.08.16

Ignoring Fare Evaders Can Make Mass Transit Fasterai??i??And Richer

In Oslo, it began with a defective gate, the kind of thing that sings ai???lawsuit!ai??? in America. In the Norwegian capitalai??i??s metro system, in 2005, newly installed turnstiles began to trap unsuspecting riders. ai???If you had a carriage or a baby stroller, you could get stuck,ai??? Christian FjAi??r, who oversees the local transit authorityai??i??s payment operations, said at an event hosted by the research group TransitCenter last month.

So the enterprising Norwegians had an idea: Donai??i??t just ditch the malfunctioning hardware. Ditch the turnstiles and gates altogether, along with the idea of physical barriers that demand payment.

Itai??i??s not so radical. By nixing fare gates, public transit agencies emphasize ease of access over making every last rider pay. Europe got intoAi??ai???proof of paymentai??? systemsai??i??where wandering personnel request evidence you paid your wayai??i??in the 1960s. They made it to American shores, mostly in light rail systems, by the 1990s.

The result: Faster vehicles, less crowding, and thus more frequent service, leading (hopefully) to more riders overall. Meanwhile, data collected from systems usingAi??modernized proof of payment methodsAi??donai??i??tAi??showAi??fare evasion skyrocketing. People, it turns out, mostly follow the rulesai??i??especially if they know getting caught in a spot check carries a hefty fine.

Today, bus, tram, and rail passengers in Oslo canAi??use a tap card orAi??smartphone app to pay their fares before the trip, without risking the howls of aAi??gate-pinched toddler. The cityai??i??s transit agencyAi??is ai???moving away from trying to keep the non-paying passengers away to catering for the paying passengers,ai??? FjAi??r said last month.

InAi??Oslo and cities trying to update their fare payment systems, the general attitude toward transit scofflaws is, whatevs.

The Great Doors Experiment

San Franciscoai??i??s Muni system is one of the most the recent to fling open the fare gates and make the switch to all-door boarding. After the cityai??i??s light rail started letting people hop into any door in the 1990s, its buses got in on the act in 2012. Helped along by the tap-able Clipper Card, which riders purchase and load in advance, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency installed electronic readers at all doors. It increased the number of trained fare inspectors patrolling the system, too.

ai???Essentially what we were trying to do is keep the honest folks honest,ai??? says Julie Kirschbaum, who oversees the agencyai??i??s modernization efforts. And do just enough to keep the bandits on their toes.

It worked. In tourist-heavy areas, the systemai??i??s bus and streetcar dwell times per stop dropped 13 percent. Before, each person getting on or off needed 6.8 seconds. Now, they take 3. 5 seconds. Multiply those moments of savings by every rider boarding and alighting at every stop on every bus line, and youai??i??ve got hundreds of hours of extra time per year. All from opening up the back doors.

The cheaters are still along for the ride, according to Muniai??i??s latest data. But the agencyai??i??s surveys found fare evasion dropped from nearly 10 percent in 2009 to 7.9 percent in 2014. The resulting estimated loss in revenue fell from $19.2 million to $17.1 million.

That tracks with Osloai??i??s experience, where the public transit system also liberated all metros from fare gates. By making it easier for riders to pay for tickets through their phones, the system halved its fare evasion rates, to five percent. Trains are moving faster, too, which encourages more people to use the service. The agency has calculated the cost of slower operations versus what itai??i??s losing through fare evasion. It makes more financial sense to let the cheaters cheat, it says.

The Tech Hangups

Unfortunately, flinging open every door is not as simple as, well, flinging open every door. The requisite fare modernization efforts donai??i??t come cheap. New Yorkai??i??s been trying to trade in its swipey MetroCard for a tap-and-go, smartphone-friendly system for nearly a decade now, but wonai??i??t really get the ball rolling until 2018ai??i??for a cool $419 million.

Los Angeles, meanwhile, started its Metro with a fare gate-free, proof-of-payment system, but started moving back to gates in 2008. It cited fare evasion, yes, but also public safety and crime deterrence.

Different strokes, man. But cities like Oslo and San Francisco show thereai??i??s a counter intuitive logic to making transit easier to ride for all.


3 Responses to “Fare Gates – Not As Advertised”
  1. eric chris says:

    Compass Cards and fare gates: how budgets and deadlines have grown and changed since 2005:


    Compass tickets reprogrammed by hackers, TransLink confirms:


    Trust-Government ?
    According to an article yesterday in The Rail For The Valley website: ” The Compass Card is old tech, sold to TransLink after an orchestrated campaign by the mainstream media that fare evasion was rampant and that fare gates were needed; and yes former premier Gordon Campbell’s best buddy, and senior bureaucrat at the City of Vancouver,Ken Dobel, just by coincidence was the lobbyist for Cubit Industries, trying to flog their dated wares.

    This debacle is not TransLink’s fault, rather it is the BC Liberal’s fault forcing yesterday’s tech on today’s transit system. ”

    The Liberal government keeps meddling in Crown Corporations like Translink, BC Ferries and BC Hydro…..however when the going gets tough, the Liberals always use the old phrase… we don’t get involved in Crown Corporations. Go figure.


  2. Haveacow says:

    Don’t get me wrong lowering fare evasion is a good thing but to be happy that your only loosing 17 million as opposed to 20+ Million in a city that is as cashed starved as San Francisco is, is really quite funny to me. I shutter to think how this Oslo & San Francisco program would be portrayed in Ottawa at our local and very conservative friendly talk radio stations like, AM 580 CFRA and All News and Sports AM 1310. Changing the data to match OC Transpo’s numbers. To say with a straight face that here in Ottawa that, going from loosing around 10% or about $22.1 Million, to 7.9%, or about $17.2 Million of total fare revenue to fare evaders by getting rid of fare gates and hiring a few more fare inspectors is a positive outcome in any way is actually laughable . It would most likely let out a howl of disgust from every radio listener in the city! I can just here the callers now, “why isn’t every rider checked and frisked and given full body cavity searches upon entering a bus or train?” The point being, nothing over 0 is at all acceptable to most fiscal conservatives here! What’s worse is, I know for fact that because of counterfeit bus tickets alone, OC Transpo has figured it looses 8-10% of potential total fares each year. Hence one of the reasons we are eliminating tickets by 2018. To wax poetically about increasing speed and lowering fare evasion to $17+ Million lost a year by eliminating fare-gates and be happy about it would cause a media firestorm here and if enough hell was raised from it, I suspect several senior people would be instantly sacked! This is why OC Transpo is so secretive about its fare evasion problems!

  3. tory says:

    There need to be stronger rules for more transparent lobbying. Past employees of significance like CEOs should never be allowed to lobby. But lobbyists are only effective if they have held past posts of influence. The post-career to a successful career. And the richer will only get richer. And the poorer will only continue to bitch-blog, like yours truly.

    Zwei replies: All blogs are bitch blogs, just some more honest then others.

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