The Vancouver Public Space Network’s Public Transit and Surveillance and Security working groups will be meeting on Thursday, March 3rd, to consider projects to highlight and explore the impact of both smart cards and turnstiles on the current experience of the public transit system.
To get myself in the mood, I pulled together a short gallery of 18 photos from Flickr of turnstiles in public transit stations around the world for a taste of what’s on the horizon for Vancouver as TransLink moves ahead with planning for and implementing similar systems for SkyTrain. (Unfortunately I’m not able to embed all these pictures in this blog post; however, if you click through you’ll be able to see my comments on what strikes me as interesting or applicable to Vancouver, about each photo!)
Having lived in places like Toronto and Hong Kong, as well as being a visitor in cities with their own versions of these systems, I’m sensitive to the fact that both turnstiles and smart cards provide conveniences and benefits to both transportation authorities and people using public transit.
But I think it’s also sensible to ask some questions about what the experience of transitioning from the honour system to one that will involve both turnstiles and smart cards will be like. For example:
- How tenable are the cost/benefit considerations associated with turnstiles?
- What was the process by which turnstiles were determined to be a priority for TransLink? Is the political push from the Transportation Minister to pursue them appropriate?
- Beyond estimates, what do we know about “fare cheats” anyway? Why exactly do some people avoid buying a ticket?
- Will turnstiles and smart cards be used as advertising surfaces as they are in other cities? (Well, smart cards have been since late last year … so we have an answer to that question already!)
The addition of turnstiles and smart cards will represent a change in the way that we engage with transit. The honour system (at least in this case) will be set aside for gate-keeping technology. Depending on your perspective, this could be a minor thing, or representative of a philosophical shift in the way TransLink does business.
If these questions sound like things you want to explore with us, come join us at Vancouver Public Library — Central Library at Library Square on Thursday, March 3 at 6:30, or if you aren’t able to make it, please send an e-mail to say you are interested — quinn [at] vancouverpublicspace.ca — and we’ll be sure to keep you up to date on the status of the project!