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Translink Buzzer Blog

New legislation introduced to better enforce fare evasion fines, plus a few more items

Buy a ticket to board the system, yo!

Hey! The Province is introducing new legislation today, giving TransLink powers to enforce fares, impose and collect fines, and reduce fare evasion on the transit system.

Here’s a few details from the Province’s backgrounder:

The South Coast British Columbia Transportation Authority Act will be modified to create a mechanism for TransLink to collect fines from unpaid fare evasion tickets. TransLink will be able to keep that money to help pay for the cost of collecting fines.

TransLink can use small claims court and collection agencies to collect unpaid fines as well as these other options:

* Offering discounts for early payment.
* Imposing continually escalating fines and interest over time.
* Filing certificates in Provincial Court to recover the amounts owed.
* Recovering fine amounts from the new Compass Cards.
* Refusing transit service, monthly passes, and transponders until fines
are paid.
* Refusing a drivers’ licence or vehicle registration by ICBC.

In extreme situations of repeat offences and refusal to pay fines, TransLink can request the Province to reduce a provincial payment to an individual, such as a provincial tax refund.

The new legislation also includes a few more things:

  • two more seats on the board of directors for the chair and vice-chair of the Mayors’ Council,
  • periodic performance audits of TransLink
  • and adding the director of Electoral Area A to the Mayors’ Council (that’s an area in Metro Vancouver including several unincorporated communities)

For more, check out the Province’s full press release and backgrounder on their website.

We’ve also got a number of past posts about fare evasion you can check out:

And of course, ask questions below: we’ll help you out with as many answers as we can.

And by the way: yes, I’m back! Be patient while I get back into the swing of things though :)

Update (May 11, 2012): How to pay your fine online

Just wanted to add that the Transit Police are hearing from lots of people lately, asking how to clear up their fines before the legislation passes. So here’s some info on how to do that, direct from the police:

Information for paying outstanding violation tickets is located on the back of the ticket. However, if a customer is no longer in possession of a ticket, but is aware of one that is outstanding, they can contact ICBC at 1-800-950-1498 or visit their website at http://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/tickets/paying-disputing/paying-violation for payment information, or visit a drivers license issuing office.

Update (June 4, 2012): The bill has passed

Just an update to say the bill has officially passed, and the legislation is now official B.C. law.

However, TransLink still has to pass its own internal fare collection bylaws in order to collect fines and hash out the practical day-to-day implementation of the law.

Here’s another clarifying note from our communications team:

Fares are being enforced today. Transit Police continue to check for fare compliance and issue tickets.

The legislation now gives TransLink new authority to collect fines, which has to be enacted by a bylaw.

All tickets, past and present, are provincial offenses. The minister has indicated that fine collection will be retroactive, so any outstanding fines before that bylaw still require payment.

You can also check out the full text of the bill on the Province’s website here.


29 Comments

  • By Chris R., May 7, 2012 @ 3:19 pm

    First, welcome back Jhenifer!

    Second, I’m sure the overall consensus will be that this is a move in the right direction. The changes are due to be in place by the summer according to a news article.

    However, the real question is why were fare evasion tickets allowed to be unenforceable for so many years.

  • By Reva, May 7, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

    Is there some way for the Transit Police to carry transit tickets for sale, to give the “caught” a choice: buy a ticket right now and be let off with a warning, and if you can’t/won’t buy one, *then* you’ll be issued a violation ticket? Or give people the choice to be escorted to a ticket machine to pay instead of being issued a violation ticket immediately?

    This would be a welcome relief for those who honestly forget once in a while (and once that train pulls away you can’t really run back out to buy a ticket, can you?), but would still penalize those who don’t pay at all. Issuing warnings would keep track of repeat offenders, so after, say, two previous warnings, you’ll get a violation ticket regardless of whether or not you pay your fare directly to the police.

    Translink will get what it wants: (a) paid fares, and (b) appropriate punishment for wilful and repeated fare evaders, which is who they really want to crack down on. The honest public will be pleased, and will probably see the transit police in a more favourable light, for being allowed the opportunity to immediately correct an honest mistake instead of being indiscriminately treated like a criminal.

  • By Reva, May 7, 2012 @ 3:31 pm

    And hey! Welcome back, Jhenifer! :)

  • By Kevin, May 7, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

    I recently visited Vancouver and used the bus and skytrain system frequently during my stay. I of course paid my fares, the rates are very reasonable for the amount of travelling and costs you save by not owning a vehicle and for a tourist it was a great way to get around and not have to deal with crazy drivers. I was a little surprised by the lack of security though. I saw how people could easily breeze by the fare ATMs and possibly get on without paying their fare. I think I would connect the validation machines to mandatory turn-styles to act as an active barrier against freeloaders.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 7, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

    Welcome back, but please don’t let Robert and the other girl go! The new rule should be, \Once you start at the blog, you can’t leave…unless people really hate you.\ ;^P

    I still don’t see how they intend to collect fines, when a person does not carry ID.

  • By Tom, May 8, 2012 @ 1:53 am

    I heard about these “fare officers” in the news tonight who are in addition to transit police. Can you shed more light on this?

  • By Chris R, May 8, 2012 @ 12:13 pm

    @Reva, May 7, 2012 – 3:29 pm

    Soon fare gates will be installed and the faregate being closed will remind anyone that has forgotten their ticket, so there won’t be a need for giving warnings.

    That is unless you are getting on at Main street or Metrotown stations.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, May 8, 2012 @ 12:43 pm

    Hello hello,

    Reva: So, I’m told by the Transit Police that the officers have discretion about how they approach customers regarding fare evasion — they can give the customer a warning and direct them to a TVM, or they can issue them a violation ticket. I imagine that they just assess the situation at hand, taking note of extenuating circumstances like the ones you’ve mentioned, and will respond as they see fit.

    We’re well aware that roughly 96% of our customers pay their fares, and the legislation is just intended as a strong deterrent to those who are considering not paying. Officers will continue to police the system as they usually do—but the consequences are a just a lot more consequential. Hopefully it gives us better tools to highlight how seriously we take fare evasion, and encourage people to pay for their service.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, May 8, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

    Tom: I’m not sure who the fare officers are referred to in the media. The Transit Police are the only ones authorized to give out fines related to fare evasion. Perhaps they meant our Transit Security officers, which are a different branch of our security team, focused on performing fare media audits and other duties? There’s more about them in this post: http://buzzer.translink.ca/index.php/2012/02/on-the-system-fare-evasion/

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, May 8, 2012 @ 1:04 pm

    Eugene: Don’t worry, Robert and Tina are definitely sticking around!

    You’re right, it would be difficult to track down a person without ID. Although, once the Compass card comes in, it might be a bit easier to take action on fare evasion with just a specific individual (ie: we can suspend their card account, etc).

  • By Rob, May 9, 2012 @ 8:11 am

    What about single zone fare evasion. A lot of people buy one zone month passes and fail to scratch the correct zone on them… leave it like that for the month, and get away with travelling the entire city on 80 some odd bucks. The same with month pass sharing within family/friend settings. Those are two seemingly overlooked forms of fare evasion. How will you control those?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, May 9, 2012 @ 8:16 am

    Tom: A few colleagues have offered some clarity on the fare officer issue. Under the proposed new legislation, TransLink would have the ability to empower Transit Security staff to issue tickets for fare evasion, in addition to our Transit Police officers. At the moment though, it’s just an option we could explore implementing—it’s not set in stone.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, May 9, 2012 @ 8:24 am

    Rob: Good question—it’s one that the zone system does present issues with. But essentially, once we move to the Compass smartcard system next year, this type of fare evasion will become far less problematic: your smartcard will tell us which zone a person has really paid for. And we will definitely be re-evaluating the zone system based on the data the smartcard system collects.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 9, 2012 @ 9:31 am

    @Rob

    All month passes are transferable between people, as long as 1 person is using it at a time; that is, unless the rules have changed.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, May 9, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

    Right, Eugene is correct about that!

  • By Rob, May 9, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

    @Eugene:

    That’s the problem, they’re transferable. That means that if one card is shared among many, only the person who bought it has paid their fare… the rest have not.

    Another concern would be buses and fare management—particularily express lines like the 99B line and the 135 SFU. A lot of people jump in the back and get free rides down Broadway or Hastings…

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 9, 2012 @ 8:55 pm

    @Rob

    That’s not the problem. It’s a selling feature. You might as well say, “Month pass holders spend less money, instead of more money! How ‘unfare’!”. The thing is that month passes also allow 2 adults and 4 children to ride on Sundays, not to mention younger children riding free. Do you complain about that, as well? I suppose so, but I wish that you wouldn’t. I bet that the Octomom wishes that she knew about that!

    The whole point of making month passes transferable was to encourage more people to use them. If 10 people can coordinate themselves to share 1 pass, then not only do I support them, I applaud them, and beg them to write about how they do it, so that we can learn.

    The rest have paid their fare by sharing in the cost of the pass, or in the case of single income families, the earner has paid for it for all of them.

    If you want more people paying more, then start at the coffee shops of universities, and check for U-passes. Instead of donating to coffee shops and telling us how little they have, they could pay like the rest of us. Young people have the most disposable income. That is why the lion’s share of marketing is targeted at them. You think about how much they earn and how much they spend. Pound for pound, their spending is way more than they earn, and I can’t understand why society gives them a discount on transit when they spend it on less noble things.

    * beer [just check out the movies and Facebook photos]
    * Canucks tickets [just watch a game]
    * coffee [hang out at the shops and watch]
    * holidays [just check out those Facebook photos]
    * the latest fashion [read the blogs of young people devoted to always wearing something new]

    This list does not even mention the latest phones, the data plans, and the various other high tech stuff that they just have to have, because, while these things are luxuries, I can sort of imagine them also bringing in more opportunities.

    Speak with moms and their baby strollers, too. Don’t forget those senior citizens!

    Usually, I try to not look at the price, when I buy Faresavers and month passes. Recently, when I noticed that the 3 zone month pass costed over $150, I just about had a cow. For $150, a rider had better get constitutional rights to share that pass with as many people as he wants! ;^D

  • By Marvin B, May 11, 2012 @ 7:15 am

    Making people pay their fines is a great first step. The real issue is enforcement to begin with. The tools to collect the fines mean nothing if fines are not being issued. Please increase presence of transit police (or give Transit security the ability to levy fines related to fare evasion). Currently transit police avoid buses so it’s still going to be a free for all. The way fare evasion is policed has to change for these new powers to have any real impact. For now it’s just smoke and mirrors

  • By ???, May 11, 2012 @ 7:39 am

    I agree I welcome bus enforcement around the Main Street station and Broadway stations. There’s a lot of entry at back doors to avoid the driver and it creates a hazard for slow exiting seniors.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, May 11, 2012 @ 2:09 pm

    Hi all: the Transit Police are hearing from lots of people lately who want to clear up their fines before the legislation passes.So here’s some info on how to do that (I’ll put it in the main post too).

    Information for paying outstanding violation tickets is located on the back of the ticket. However, if a customer is no longer in possession of a ticket, but is aware of one that is outstanding, they can contact ICBC at 1-800-950-1498 or visit their website at http://www.icbc.com/driver-licensing/tickets/paying-disputing/paying-violation for payment information, or visit a drivers license issuing office.

  • By JKKT - Kyle, May 12, 2012 @ 9:04 pm

    @ Eugene

    Too bad there’s no ‘Weekend Pass Sharing’ Program, where holders can rent their pass for the weekend for a small price.

  • By Johnny B, May 13, 2012 @ 2:15 am

    Marvin, I agree with you 100%. I think Translink should implement the Fare Officer as mentioned earlier, as more tickets issued = more money to Translink. Also if people know they’re gonna get a ticket, they’re less likely to beat up the bus driver and just pay the fare.

  • By Eugene T.S. Wong, May 13, 2012 @ 7:54 am

    @JKKT

    I don’t see why you can’t get people to contribute to the cost of the pass. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could get some kind of a program going, that isn’t renting, but is generating income.

    I know that they say you can’t sell passes, but I think that month passes are kind of different, as long as only the allowed amount of people use the pass at any given time.

    By the way, I still want to collaborate with you. I have just been very disorganized with my time.

  • By Kat, July 24, 2013 @ 9:42 am

    What about tourists? How do they fine them? It wouldn’t be liable to send the ticket to their home country?

  • By Roy Marvelous, August 15, 2013 @ 4:50 pm

    I received a ticket because I had left my monthly 2-zone pass at home (It was a Monday and had kept my pass in my jeans pocket over the weekend). The transit police officer lied to me that the fine would be removed if I could later prove I had a valid pass.

    I empathize that they want to catch fare cheats but penalizing commuters who make an honest mistake is unjust. What happened to innocent until proven guilty?

  • By Hope, December 10, 2013 @ 12:54 pm

    Can they send out debt collectors to the home country of tourists that get caught with invalid tickets?

  • By Nikole, January 7, 2014 @ 1:43 am

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Other Links to this Post

  1. The Buzzer blog » On the system – following fare evasion with Transit Police — July 25, 2012 @ 4:18 pm

  2. Summary of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure News | TranBC — August 4, 2012 @ 9:27 am

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