TransLink is sticking to its plan to close all SkyTrain fare gates in early April, but now says it will have nearly all stations staffed most of the time to assist passengers in wheelchairs who can’t tap Compass card readers.
Minister for TransLink Peter Fassbender last week directed TransLink to not close the system entirely until there’s a solution to deal with those severely disabled passengers who have no arm movement.
TransLink said in a statement one accessible gate will be left open at stations at times when staff are not present.
A spokesman said the expectation is the vast majority of able-bodied passengers using SkyTrain from 6:30 a.m. through 7 p.m. will face a fully gated system as of April 8.
Passengers are being told they will have to have a valid Compass card or Compass ticket within fare-paid zones starting April 4, when the closures will start being phased in.
Old pre-paid FareSaver tickets will no longer be valid then and someone who gets on through an unstaffed open accessible gate may encounter a closed gate when they try to exit SkyTrain at another station. They’d have to buy a Compass exit ticket from vending machines in the fare-paid zone in order to open the gates.
The extra staffing will be done through the existing budget at no increased cost to TransLink, the spokesman said, but was unable to say if that means sacrificing staff hours to perform other duties.
TransLink is also proceeding with its planned station assistance service where disabled passengers can phone for assistance. Similar assistance is provided to the visually impaired.
Also continuing, officials say, is work towards a better long-term solution for the severely disabled to open fare gates.
Fassbender said he supports TransLink’s revised interim solution to deliver unfettered access.
“I am satisfied that they have met our request that they make sure that the people who have disabilities have access the same as anyone else, and in doing that they’re treated with the respect they deserve as well.”
As for a permanent solution, he noted other transit systems have a mechanism for wheelchair users to trigger the gates using a radio-frequency enabled device, or through an app on their phones.