Public Private Partnership Between TransLink and Hyperlight Systems Results in the World’s First Hands-Free Fare Gate Solution

Nov. 8, 2018
Vancouver-based Hyperlight Systems offers a Smart-city platform for removing barriers and enabling universal accessibility for public transit.

Hyperlight Systems is working to enable fully accessible transit for everyone, everywhere. Their innovative technology eliminates the need for passengers with disabilities to tap, swipe or push buttons to use transit fare gates, buses, elevators and intersections. The company is dedicated to developing Smart Cities and accessibility technology solutions to solve complex urban challenges.

In 2016, Hyperlight Systems partnered with South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority, TransLink, to design and deploy the world’s first hands-free fare gate solution across Vancouver, BC. The collaboration was born out of TransLink’s desire to provide better access for customers unable to tap their payment cards at newly installed fare gates. Following the success of this deployment, Hyperlight Systems has also expanded their platform to equip elevators with the fully-automated, touchless access technology.  

The world’s first hands-free fare gate technology

Hyperlight Systems worked closely with TransLink to design and prototype a solution that would solve a major accessibility challenge for the newly installed, tap-enabled fare gates. Prior to this system, Customers not able to tap could not navigate through the fare gates independently. They either had to phone ahead before arriving at a SkyTrain station, and request a SkyTrain Attendant to come meet them or travel with a companion to open the fare gate for them.

TransLink has a proud tradition of innovative public transport. The SkyTrain, built for the World's Fair in 1986, was the first fully-automated rapid light rail in North America and is currently the world's largest fully automated Rapid Transit System. The trains are driverless and have no conductors on board. The stations have a fleet of attendants floating at different stations with none stationed full time. TransLink strives to provide all customers the same travel experience. In collaboration with Hyperlight Systems, the team talked to a range of stakeholders before proceeding to build a solution. Hyperlight Systems made it a priority to work with TransLink to retrofit their existing infrastructure and hardware, with the goal of improving customer experience with minimal construction effort, time and cost.

The solution was a custom built OpenHAP (Hand-free Access Point) system, leveraging wireless technology to automatically open fare gates across transit stations. Eligible passengers are assigned a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) card that triggers fare gates to swing open within close range. RFID sensors were placed above the fare gates, eliminating the need for any new construction or hardware modifications on the existing gates. As a result, the technology enables passengers to travel independently and achieve equal access to social and economic participation.

This new hands-free system, termed the Universal Fare Gate Access Program, was rolled out in a rapid but phased approach. The proof of concept was developed, tested and piloted at three stations in 2017. Then in January 2018, the system was successfully deployed across 40 percent of TransLink stations. To date, over 91 percent of SkyTrain and Canada Line stations and SeaBus terminals in BC are equipped with the technology, with the goal to outfit all TransLink stations by the end of 2018.Since the initial roll out, the technology has received overwhelmingly positive user feedback. Brad Zdanivsky, a TransLink rider who uses a wheelchair, joined the Hyperlight Systems team to help test, roll out and promote the new system. “I’m happy to be part of the solution making transit more accessible,” says Brad. Rider response continues to demonstrate the technology’s positive impact in supporting independence for people with disabilities and senior citizens.

TransLink encourages all customers with mobility challenges to apply, with the goal of empowering everyone to travel independently and pass through public spaces with dignity. The positive reception from transit users and the public has enhanced TransLink’s reputation as a customer-focused leader in accessibility. Together with Hyperlight Systems, they are helping put Canada on the map as a global leader raising the bar for universal accessibility around the world.

Developing fully accessible transit for smarter cities

Hyperlight Systems envisions smart cities of the future to be inclusive and responsive. Through continuous community engagement and user-feedback, Hyperlight Systems has created a customer journey map to understand additional accessibility barriers that exist from the time someone leaves their home until they arrive at their destination. The team is committed to developing a unified accessibility platform that enables barrier-free mobility experience through fare gates, elevators, intersections, and any other type of access points that pose a challenge to those with disabilities.