Local resident Jason Pultz is concerned that the faregates at Lougheed SkyTrain Station make it more difficult to get to Lougheed Town Centre.
The faregates are situated along the passageway between the station and the shopping centre.
People wanting to use the passage once the faregates are activated next year will need to buy a Compass card to get through, whether they use transit or not.
This will make accessing the shopping centre more difficult, particularly for people with mobility issues or disabilities, Pultz said.
Pultz, 35, was diagnosed 10 years ago with ankylosing spondylitis and also has Crohn's disease, he said in an interview with the NOW.
"It's basically inflammation throughout the spine, and over time the vertebrae are fused together," he said of his condition, which makes it difficult for him to walk long distances.
"I moved here a few years ago, and one of the main purposes was just because it was so close to the mall," he said. "I like to walk every day for exercise and do my grocery shopping and stuff over there."
Pultz is worried he'll be fined if he continues to try to use the passageway without paying for a fare card. He cannot use transit because of his condition, he said, and doesn't like the idea of having a card on him that can track his movements.
But not using the passage would make getting to and from the shopping centre difficult for him, he added.
"The alternative route is going all the way up the Austin hill and sort of going around there, so it really lengthens it out," he said. "It's a longer trek, especially with big bags of groceries."
Pultz emailed TransLink about the issue and received a reply telling him he would have to buy a Compass card, which would not be charged if he left the station without boarding transit.
"There are many people like you who need to pass through SkyTrain stations to access other locations, and we have designed a feature into the Compass card that will allow you to continue to do this," the email from TransLink stated. "The undo feature on Compass cards will allow someone to enter a station and then exit
that same station at no cost. We've included it into the Compass system primarily to allow people to change their mind and cancel a trip without charge. All you will need to do is get a Compass Card (they will be available at the new ticket vending machines at Lougheed Station), tap in to pass through the faregates and then tap out to exit. Your card will not be charged as long as you enter and exit the same station within 21 minutes."
But Pultz doesn't think people who don't use transit should have to pay for a card they never use.
"It's just not really something I want to do, and it seems like a funny system to walk through the pathway there," Pultz said, adding he would prefer TransLink modify the station with a stairwell that would allow people to pass through without a fare card.
Pultz also emailed Lougheed Town Centre but hadn't received a response, he said.
"It seems like something they should be aware of," he said. "I think there are going to be a lot of people that are surprised when it's implemented and they realize they aren't going to have access to the mall."
Shape Properties, which owns the shopping centre, had not responded to requests for an interview from the NOW by press time.
TransLink has said it's introducing the new Compass Card and turnstile system to prevent fare evasion.
The Compass Card would substitute cash, passes and FareSaver tickets, and allow TransLink to charge riders based on distance travelled, rather than the current boundary system.
"We do recognize that inconvenience," Derek Zabel, spokesperson for TransLink, said regarding the access issue at Lougheed. "We've worked with our transit user (access) committees to make the stations as accessible as possible."
He added the faregate system is being built as a security measure for transit users.
People who pass through SkyTrain passageways with a Compass Card will not be charged a fare, he added.
Zabel wasn't sure what the cost of buying the Compass Card would be but said he would get back to the NOW when he has more information on that.
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