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Blogger questions number of faregates at Brentwood Station

The new faregates at Brentwood Station are not yet operational, but an area blogger questions why there are only three of them in a neighbourhood set for a massive increase in residential development. - Brentwood Station blog
The new faregates at Brentwood Station are not yet operational, but an area blogger questions why there are only three of them in a neighbourhood set for a massive increase in residential development.
— image credit: Brentwood Station blog

A Brentwood-area blogger is questioning the logic of Brentwood SkyTrain Station only having three faregates installed despite the fact the neighbourhood is slated to have numerous residential highrises built in the near future.

A recent post on the blog, which can be found at http://brentwoodstation.blogspot.ca/, states "only 3 turnstiles in a station slated to become one of the busiest in the region is a reflection on the lack of foresight shown by TransLink decision-makers."

Shape Properties' redevelopment plans for Brentwood Town Centre will eventually add 11 residential towers as high as 60 storeys tall and two office buildings to its 28-acre site. Kitty corner from that, Appia Development's Solo District is proposing four residential towers ranging from 39 to 52 storeys tall.

In addition to slowing down commuters during busy rush hour periods, as they'll be required to scan their smartcards as they enter and exit the station, the blogger wondered whether the faregates would prevent a quick evacuation of the station in case of an emergency.

TransLink has, in fact, considered all these questions and has looked at the anticipated demand in the area up to the year 2031, said Ken Hardie, TransLink's communications liaison for the Compass smartcard project. The number of gates at each station was determined through modelling of passenger flows.

"At Brentwood as in quite a number of other stations, there's a lot of room there. Ultimately if we have to add, we can."

The cost of adding gates would simply involve buying the gates and installing them, as all the wiring and other infrastructure would already be in place, Hardie said.

"We will be monitoring the situation quite closely."

He noted that the gates themselves are not the only place where short-term congestion will occur, noting there is always some at escalators or stairs, for instance.

"If you look at all of the points where people move in the station, the faregates will just simply be one of them and we're not anticipating jam-ups at the gate."

The faregates will have a long, phased rollout period before they're fully functioning, Hardie said, adding initially the flow of people will be slower as people get used to the new system.

Each gate can easily handle 40 people a minute. Brentwood's gates won't be fully operational until sometime in the late summer or early fall of 2013, he said.

In contrast, a number of stations on the older Expo SkyTrain line, will have to be rebuilt to meet current and future demand.

That includes Metrotown station, built in the early 1980s before Metrotown mall developed as much as it has. A new station will have to be built to accommodate more passengers expected from the third Metrotower office building, now under construction, the redevelopment of Station Square shopping centre which will add five towers up to 57 storeys tall, and other highrises under development in the neighbourhood.

"That's the reason why we're not installing gates there initially," Hardie said. "It would be a waste. We would put them in only to have to take them out in fairly short order as the new station is built."

Hardie could not provide a timeframe for when that new station will be built and referred the question to a TransLink spokesperson who did not return messages before the NewsLeader's deadline.

As for emergency evacuation procedures, the gates will just open in such situations, he said. That can happen automatically, such as in the case of a power failure, or staff at the monitoring centre, which happens to be located at Brentwood Station, will push a button and make it happen.

"There are other emergency exits at the station, so we wouldn't be funnelling everybody through the gates either."

wchow@burnabynewsleader.com

twitter.com/WandaChow

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