[OR: What happens when you don’t engage in Design Thinking]

Much has been written (often here) about the decision to install fare gates. Most of this has been to suggest that they are a bad idea – they don’t solve the problem of fare evasion (or maybe they could, but their cost is greater than the cost of the fare evasion, so whether this is a win is up to your viewpoint), and a number of other knocks on the system.

It turns out there is one more.

TransLink keeping Compass Card gates open for paralyzed users

“TransLink has really dropped the ball. TransLink didn’t think through how the Compass Card could be implemented so that everybody could use it,” says Tim Louis.

The lawyer and former Vancouver city councillor says he’s a regular SkyTrain rider, but since January 1 he’s been taking the bus instead, in the company of his care attendant.

Fare gates are bad for AAA accessibility. You don’t say.

And what is the solution?

As a temporary fix, TransLink is leaving at least one of the fare gates that can accommodate wheelchairs and scooters, open at all SkyTrain stations. But for disability advocates, it’s a move that brings up safety concerns.

One of the reasons quoted for installation of the fare gates is the safety of the system. One other reason was to cut down on the cost of security and having to have fewer officers posted at stations. Neither of these is now possible.

Craig Langston… A past member of TransLink’s Access Transit Users’ Advisory Committee… fears foot traffic will gravitate to the open disability gate and increase the potential for collisions with motorized scooters and wheelchairs.

I remember doing a social engineering experiment in High School while working on the school newspaper (I loved that hall pass!), and selectively propping open doors in hallways. Its was frankly shocking to see the lengths people will go to aim for the open door, walking significantly out of their way just to avoid opening one. So this proposed gravitation is not surprising.

One solution proposed is to have an attendant at each station, all the time. I’m not an accountant but this might cost quite a bit. Just sayin’.

And bringing things back to yesterday’s Design Thinking piece:

Meantime, Louis says other parts of the world have found a fix for this.

“There are products on the market that can read the equivalent of a Compass Card from a distance so you don’t even need to take it out of your pocket and the reader reads it as you sail by,” he claims.

We chose to reinvent the wheel instead of using what is proven elsewhere? That’s never happened before has it?

(also, these long range card readers … those wouldn’t have worked on the busses, would they?)