Will TransLink’s faregates create a bottleneck for passengers? Few gates at high volume stations may result in long lineups

Faregates Installed at Broadway City Hall Skytrain Station Skytrain platform at busy Broadway Station
TransLink continues to install faregates at Skytrain stations to provide a fully gated entry system in late 2013. A total of 5 faregates have been installed at the busy Broadway City Hall Station. The open question we’d like to pose is will 5 faregates be enough to properly service this station? Even if TransLink installs more faregates here, will there be a bottleneck for passengers attempting to enter or exit the station during peak hours? Are there other Skytrain Stations that may have long lineups of people trying to enter or exit? We’d of course like to stress that the faregate installation process is a ‘work in progress’ and consequently it can only be judged once it is completed and operational. It’s difficult to foresee how quickly people will pass through the faregates one at a time once the system is functional.

One of the ways that TransLink saved money on the Canada Line that opened in 2009 was to create a single point of entry to many of the stations along the route. The drawback to this approach is that the design funnels a high volume of passengers through a single route (multiple exits would distribute the load on faregates). Outside of the Broadway City Hall Station long lineups are common for passengers wishing to board the 99B Line or the #9 trolley bus. Will people trying to enter or exit the Skytrain station form similarly long lines? The faregates will be used in conjunction with the Compass Pass in the Fall of 2013, please see our earlier article on the new system here.

99B Line stop at Broadway City Hall Station Faregates on a Saturday at Broadway City Hall Station
Another way that TransLink saved money on the Canada Line was to limit the length of the platforms on many of the new stations. Waterfront Station is an example of a station with a full-length platform. It would be possible to relieve congestion by using longer trains if all of the stations had full-length platforms. The Expo Line accommodates SkyTrain vehicles of various lengths. Apparently all of the stations on the Canada Line that have short platforms could be retrofitted for full-length platforms. However, longer trains could potentially mean even more passengers that could overwhelm the system. TransLink will likely not have funding to do any further upgrades on the Canada Line. After a number of delays, the main contractor for the EverGreen Line was awarded in October 2012, and the bulk of expansion funding will probably go into this project until 2016 (see The Province article: Evergreen Line contract goes to SNC-Lavalin). As both Surrey and Vancouver try to get priority on future Skytrain lines (such as a Broadway Line out to UBC), reality might dictate that there’s no funding for additional rapid transit lines.

The next Mayor’s Council meeting will be held on December 5, 2012 between 3-4 pm in Metrotown, Burnaby. Further details on the meeting are on the TransLink website. It’s possible to apply to speak at this meeting by filling out a form and by sending in the request before the stated “deadline of 8 a.m., two business days prior to the meeting”.
Information Board
Faregates at Broadway and Cambie Broadway at Cambie, Sat Dec 1, 2012

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