Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Road improvements are coming

with 8 comments

By Matthew Hoekstra – Richmond Review – January 30, 2008

Well, the good news here is that the tunnel is not likely to be enlarged any time soon, but it does look like the Steveston Highway overpass will get looked at. And Richmond’s daft notion of a new interchange on #99 at Blundell has been replaced by a Highway 91 interchange at Nelson Road. This is for the port related development on the north bank of the South Arm.

And then the Minister talked about transit

Drawing applause from the crowd, Falcon reiterated his commitment to turnstiles at all rapid transit stations in the region. Turnstiles make people pay for transit they use and provide a sense of safety.

“You never want to underestimate the importance of that. Whether it be the Netherlands or in Paris or in London, there’s no question that commuters, particularly women, feel safer when they’re in a controlled environment, where not every single aggressive panhandler or nut that feels like wandering into a station can do so and harass the patrons.

“Believe it or not, criminals are not the smartest people in the world. They generally won’t pay three to five bucks to go into a station and harass people. That’s a good thing.”

So now its agressive panhandlers and nuts we worry about. Not fare evaders costing us revenue, notice. Which seems to me to be tacit acceptance that gates are not going to pay for themselves. He seems to have stopped talking about how he “knows” fare evasion is higher than Translink admits.

It is also probably significant that he is no longer talking about actual safety – as opposed to perceived safety. If I was Minister of Transport, I think what would grab my attention more is not how safe some people feel or don’t feel, but what the data tells us about injuries and deaths. I might also look at property damage and losses too. Because while that will probably not get me a standing ovation at a Richmond Chamber of Commerce breakfast, it might give me some ideas on what the best rate of return on an increment of $100m might buy me. I suspect that it would look like a road traffic law enforcement program. There is a very good letter about a recent four day crackdown by Richmond RCMP in the same paper edition that does not appear on line. 250 violations were ticketed – 123 were speeding, 10 for driving without a licence. The letter writer suggests that more than 4 days is needed.

And if “nuts and panhandlers” are a problem, spending $100m on housing for the homeless, and more care for those tipped out of institutions might make a lot more sense. Since those problems were largely created by provincial government cuts to essential social welfare programs. But of course to a BC Liberal a crack down on fare evasion or a campaign to keep beggars and homeless people off SkyTrain looks so much more attractive than wondering why we have those social problems in the first place.

Written by Stephen Rees

January 31, 2008 at 3:16 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Falcon really needs to give it up already. Why is it when he has “money,” he wants to do something frivolous with it? Someone should really send him to the Netherlands, Germany or Japan and smack some good sense into that fellow.

    They’ve already committed to higher CCTV security. Quite honestly, I’d feel safer with one simple addition to SkyTrain stations, and it’s already in progress: better lighting. (They STILL haven’t replaced the burnt out bulb at Surrey Central.) Turnstiles won’t keep out people who really want to be in there, and my greatest concern, second to the enormous cost, is that it’ll be a great hindrance to people trying to get in FAST. It’s not a church: if I’m being pursued by someone near a SkyTrain, I want to get up there as fast as my legs will carry me, and a turnstile isn’t going to stop them but it’ll stop me. I’m not much of a jumper. I also regularly bolt it up the stairs at my main two stations even if I’m sick… time is of the essence.

    Erika Rathje

    January 31, 2008 at 9:20 pm

  2. I think he is as misguided as the former head of Security who persuaded the builders of the Expo Line that shops in stations would increase crime. “Eyes on the street” work much better than cctv in my view: seeing people watching you prevents crime, cctv may help catch perps after the event.

    One great advance in the Millennium Line stations was eliminating hiding places and if there is one good thing that comes out of rebuilding Expo stations for 6 cars, that would be it.

    And, by the way, the guy who was following women out of stations in East Vancouver and bashing them over the head with an iron pipe has been found guilty on all five counts. I did not see any coverage of his preference for method of fare payment, but he does have a crack habit.

    Stephen Rees

    January 31, 2008 at 9:35 pm

  3. I echo your statement about traffic enforcement. The ‘nuts’ are behind the wheel of a car. I walk a lot, and what I notice is that if there’s a gap *between pedestrians* that a driver thinks he can fit through, he’ll do it. I can often reach out and touch the car as it speeds by at 40km/h (yes, I do it all the time). Drivers seem to be a bit hesitant to do this when there’s a stroller crossing the street. Maybe I should start pushing an empty stroller everywhere.

    It amuses me that the stated reason for giving Skytrain Police guns, was because of fare evasion. Now that we’re getting turnstiles, are the police going to have their guns taken away? Probably not. Falcon must enjoy having his cake and eating it too.

    The other Paul

    February 1, 2008 at 2:56 pm

  4. […] is not normally I subject I would go for here. But given my reaction to the latest sophistry from Kevin Falcon, we need to understand why people on SkyTrain get bugged […]

  5. What always amazes me about Skytrain is that it’s possible to travel from one end of the line to other and never see the staff. I don’t ride daily as I once did but staff are often invisible and when they are around, as often as not, they are huddled in groups of three or four.
    I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the people who decide not to pay the fare are not going to pay the fine if they get caught.
    Stephen, has there been any info provided on the percentage of fare evasion fines that are actually collected? I suspect it isn’t much of a deterrent.
    In London, as I recollect, passengers don’t negotiate the turnstile on the way into the station but on the way out. And the stations are staffed.

    Wayne

    February 3, 2008 at 12:17 pm

  6. The collection of fines is a provincial responsibility, and they do not pass the money back to Translink!

    I think if you poke around long enough on the Translink site there is a report somewhere which mentions a very low rate of successful collection on fines. I think the province farmed it out to a debt collection agency.

    In London the initial gate installation was in the Central Area only – but everyone had to go through a gate inbound or outbound. In the outer areas stations were manned anyway, so manual ticket checks were thought to be ok. Later on it was realised this was a mistake and now all stations are gated and everyone must go through a gate on the way in and out – and sometimes during transfers between lines too (e.g. at Stratford between the Jubliee and Central Lines)

    In UK railways in general, fines have been replaced by penalty fares, with revenues going to the operator. What happens if you cannot pay the penalty? I do not know, but I bet there are websites about it.

    Stephen Rees

    February 3, 2008 at 12:34 pm

  7. good god. I had no idea about this although I’d heard vague rumours about turnstiles from miss604’s blog. I’ve used public transit for 10 years, but don’t recall any opportunity to offer an opinion about what feels safe, and doesn’t. What has NOT been an issue for me are the panhandlers (except one tall dude hanging over my shoulder as I bought my ticket. he pissed me off). What HAS been worrisome are times like when the high-school kid behind me was telling his buddy his plans to knife someone else.

    nancy (aka money coach)

    February 4, 2008 at 10:41 am

  8. If you want to, you can sign up for an online Translink consultation panel which is run by one of the market research outfits

    Stephen Rees

    February 4, 2008 at 10:56 am


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