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Friday fun post: ever forgotten to buy a FareCard at month’s end — then boarded transit without valid fare?

If you like, skip to the end of this post to answer the FareCard question.

Last week’s post: have you thought about your Olympic travel plans?

Last week’s fun post asked you about whether you were thinking about your Olympic travel plans already.

After a scant 97 votes, 41% said they had some rough plans in mind, 30% hadn’t thought about it, and 29% said their travel wasn’t affected by the Olympics.

Well, it’s good to see that many of you are thinking about it already, since things are going to busy come Olympics-time! A couple of different strategies were mentioned in the comments. For example, here’s Reva:

Well, as I live on the North Shore, and I won’t be attending any of the Olympic events, my plan is to stay on the North Shore and not venture into town for the entire month of February. If there is something urgent, I can travel to Vancouver by SeaBus. I don’t think I would want to rely on a bus to get me over either of the bridges, with the extraordinary amount of vehicle traffic they are predicting. Then I could SkyTrain it out of the downtown core and transfer to a bus further east to get wherever it is I need to go.

Steve’s concern was mainly for work:

I haven’t really read up on this yet, I am mainly concerned about getting to/from work. At least I have options, work remotely from home or if I really have to go in to the office just avoid downtown – luckily I have plenty of route choices despite them adding another 30-45 minutes to my journey. My office is usually flexible about these issues anyhow.

And Cliff said he’d try a different type of vehicle out:

I personally don’t think I’ll be too affected. I’m switching to a motorcycle for those two weeks. If you can’t find a parking spot with a motorcycle, may as well turn in your licence.

This week: ever forgotten to buy a FareCard at month’s end — then boarded transit without valid fare?

David2 suggested this poll, which seems apropos at the end of the month.

Let this be your reminder to buy your November FareCard today, so you’ll have a valid fare for Sunday :)

I guess the follow-up question would be: what happened next? Did you rush right out and get the FareCard immediately?


  • By Reva, October 30, 2009 @ 7:06 pm

    I’ve managed to do this a few times over the years. Most drivers especially the familiar ones will say something like, “You’re going to remember to buy a new pass today, right?” and then let me on, no problem. They know that sometimes people just plain forget and need to be reminded.

    The only time a driver got mad at me for this was when I was still using the previous month’s pass on the 5th of the new month (and it was not my regular driver that day)… somehow I was totally oblivious, *and* no driver had pointed it out to me up until then. He told me to pay cash or get off. What else could I do but pay cash, I knew I was in the wrong, and I needed to go to work! I spent my whole lunch hour searching downtown madly for a retailer who still had passes in stock. :)

  • By Cliff, October 30, 2009 @ 7:25 pm

    It’s happened on two occasions with me. I wasn’t just able to run out and buy another farecard though, I had to wait until I could get to the WCE office downtown to buy it. And it was mid month!

    A clever thing to do would be for the driver to somehow deface the expired farecard (without ruining it for tax return purposes) so as to indicate that the passenger in question has been told once about their expired pass. Then, if that person tries to board again after being reminded, the driver will know and should refuse entry.

    While drivers aren’t really supposed to be enforcing fares, the sort that cause trouble with fares aren’t the same people who buy monthly farecards, so it’s not likely the person attempting to board would create a scene.

  • By cree, October 30, 2009 @ 9:02 pm

    Uhh, use cash fares if that happens.

    2 months ago, I had to wait till the 4th to buy mine, only because I didn’t have enough to buy it. but then, very few shops had 1-zone passes.

  • By Dave 2, October 30, 2009 @ 9:08 pm

    Thanks for using my suggestion Jhenifer, I must remember to buy a new pass tommorrow. I’ve done this 3 times in 5 years; the worst was in 2007 when it didn’t hit me until the morning of Nov 2nd; that time I just went back down and bought a 2 zone fare at the machine; I blame Halloween for distracting me that time. I usually have the past 2 or 3 months cards in my wallet, so hopefully I’d be able to talk my way out of a ticket (please sir, give me a fare deferal)

    Regarding fare checks, sometimes they’re at the entrance to the fare paid zone (bottom of the escalator at eleveated stations), sometimes they’re at the top. The former may be more effective at getting dodgers to buy a fare, and would be more forgiving of the forgetful monthly pass purchaser.

    Once, and only once, I left the house without my wallet and found myself at the Commercial – Broadway transfer without any cash, credit cards, my pass, or ID… short of trading cigarettes for a transfer from a dodgy character I was hooped, so I knowingly boarded a downtown train and hoped for the best….

  • By Dave 2, October 30, 2009 @ 9:36 pm

    On buses it’s usually obvious that you haven’t a valid pass as you have to (in theory) show it to the driver* (though Reva’s story suggests otherwise), but if you primarily use SkyTrain and buy a pass each month it can be pretty easy to saunter onto the train thinking you’re covered when you aren’t. Hopefully an Oyster/Octopus card will fix that, along with the zone boundary anomoly, it’s kind of silly that one can board at Gilmore and travel 15 stations east for $2.50, but 1 station west costs $3.75

    *in theory now that buses are POP “Fare Paid Zones”, should you even have to flash your pass to a driver? You don’t if you board at the rear on the 99. In practice, the only change is you now MUST take a transfer when paying cash on a bus; back in the day I’d often not bother with a transfer if I was taking a single bus back to Kits and I knew I was heading home for the night….

  • By zack, October 30, 2009 @ 9:59 pm

    Luckily that never happened to me, because I always buy the pass on the last week of the month. I don’t know though how anyone can survive without these FareCards, they’re just so useful rather than scrambling for coins once a bus approaches. That happened to me once, and trust me it is not a good feeling.

  • By ;-), October 30, 2009 @ 10:05 pm

    Thanks for the reminder. I need a November farecard very soon.

  • By jim, October 30, 2009 @ 11:46 pm

    Has happened a few times! I usually figure it out in time. I have even had a few times where I have purchased it but forgot to switch out the previous month for the coming month which can be a bit strange to put it bluntly!

  • By j, October 31, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

    Ha! That just happened to me on the first of this month!

  • By Tsushima Masaki, October 31, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

    I usually avoid this by buying new FareCards on the 3rd week of every month. I have boarded transit without valid fare before, so now I keep my new FareCards in my wallet along with my current ones so I don’t forget it at home at the change of the month.

  • By Ric, October 31, 2009 @ 8:06 pm

    It happened to me a couple times. Once I was on vacation for three weeks, and when I returned home it was already the 5th of the following month. I thought that I purchased a new pass before I left but I realized that I haven’t when I arrived home. I had to go to school and didn’t have time to purchase a new pass till after school. When the bus came I told the driver that I lost my monthly pass and they said thats okay just come on. The second time it happened when the canada line was opened for its second day. I happened to have left my pass at home when I left the house and didn’t realize that till I was at the train station. Since all the buses were full that day and kept passing me by I didn’t board a bus to the train station. Instead I ended up walking to the train station. When I got on the train a canada line attendant asked me to show them my ticket I couldn’t find it and said I was in a hurry in the morning and must have ended up leaving it at home. The attendant said, “I’ll let you stay on this time but next time you need to get off.” On my return trip I paid cash fares. After that I decided to keep my monthly pass in my wallet so I wouldn’t forget it in the future. I also bought some faresaver tickets that I will keep in my wallet for emergency purses in case I lose my monthly or forget my monthly pass.

  • By Jon, November 1, 2009 @ 10:24 am

    I did this once… the weekend I got married. We got married on the first of the month, and well, I had other things on my mind than buying farecards.

    It was the third when I had to go back to work, still not having remembered. Like I said, other things on my mind.

    Anyways, I got on the Skytrain to ride my normal two stops, and sure enough… Fare checked. After quickly realizing at that point my fare was dead, I tried to explain to the gentleman checking me that I had been married on the weekend, had totally forgot. I showed him the previous seven months worth of farecards that were still in my wallet. Promised I’d get off at the next stop and buy a new one…

    But no, that wasn’t good enough for him. He told me that since it was now the third of the month. He wouldn’t take my ‘excuse’. If it had been the first or second, maybe… But not now. So he fined me.

    Have to admit, haven’t had the most positive outlook on those guys since that day.

  • By David, November 1, 2009 @ 10:14 pm

    It happened to me three times. Twice I remembered on board SkyTrain so I got off at Broadway and bought a pass at Safeway. The other time I completely forgot until I was at work. I recall standing in a huge line at 7-Eleven.

  • By Donald, November 2, 2009 @ 10:32 am

    The cops have likely heard every excuse in the book so understandably they’re not likely to be lenient, but it’s still embarrassing especially when the police and fellow passengers treat you like some hardened criminal, I mean what if it was some person who works two jobs to support their family and normally buys transit passes and gets slapped with a $173 fine just because they forgot one day? And now they either have to take a day off to fight the ticket in court or lineup at a Food Bank because $173 is now going to a ticket instead of groceries.

    Anyway I forgot to buy a new pass once and received a whopping $46 ticket when I was a student that I finally paid four years later after I graduated lol. Ever since the fine went up to $173, I scheduled my Palm Pilot to nag me everyday from 5 days before the end of the month to remind me to buy one. Eventually it became second nature to buy my pass as soon as they went on sale. Unfortunately with West Coast Express now I have to buy my 28 day pass the morning of.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, November 2, 2009 @ 12:08 pm

    Just a heads up if you don’t know: FareCards for the next month are available after the 15th, so you can buy your pass well in advance if that works for you.

    However, let me tell you a tale of woe from my days riding transit in Edmonton. I once bought a bus pass for next month, put it in my pass holder behind the current one, and felt very smart that I was prepared ahead of time. Then I lost the whole pass holder, meaning I had to buy BOTH bus passes over again. Awesome.

  • By ;-), November 2, 2009 @ 1:00 pm

    The 15th???, sounds like a bigger chance to lose them.

    Again it’s too bad I can’t buy a prorated pass (even at a premium) as the value is reduced during the month.

  • By Robert, November 3, 2009 @ 12:28 pm

    Another advantage of having an annual pass…not having to remember to buy a pass each month. Even if holiday time reduces the overall savings, still worth it for me for the convenience. I’m lucky to work for an employer where an annual pass is an option.

  • By Tsushima Masaki, November 3, 2009 @ 1:16 pm


    Actually something similar happened to me this year. During the Celebration of Light fireworks, on UK’s night I lost my wallet insert with all my important cards amidst the wreckage of English Bay. I had just bought my August FareCard a couple of days before and had slipped it behind my current FareCard.

    I got my wallet back the next day at the VPD Station on Cambie after following up a series of calls which started with the Richmond Olympic Oval (the woman who found my wallet saw my Oval membership and phoned them for contact info).

    But of course… the only things missing in the wallet were my 2 Zone FareCards.

    I really wish my school had a U-pass…

  • By Cliff, November 3, 2009 @ 2:48 pm

    Just a tip for everyone. It’s slightly cheaper on an annual basis to buy a WCE 28 day pass that’s good from Port Moody to Port Haney.

    WCE 28 day pass $121.50 X 13 = $1,579.50
    Monthly Pass 3-Zone $136 X 12 = $1,632.00

    A savings of over $50 a year. By purchasing a 28 day pass as opposed to a monthly pass, you gain the additional freedom of “skipping” if you’re not going to be using transit for a couple days after your pass expires, thus saving slightly more money.

    The pass is still good for all three zones and also has the side effect of allowing WCE travel between the stations indicated, should you happen to be in the area and time for it.

    And according to the fine print on the back of the ticket, the pass is also good on BC Transit within the city of Mission.

    Those without access to Port Moody Station in the afternoon or Port Haney Station in the morning can buy the Port Moody-Port Haney pass from the WCE Customer Service Centre at Waterfront Station.

  • By roundtop, November 3, 2009 @ 6:45 pm

    I’ve forgotten it twice, the first time the driver was nice and recognised me. The second, well I learned me lesson, I keep a booklet of 10 faresavers in my bag, separate from my wallet. If I forget I just pull one out and use it until I get to a store. It also comes in handy if you are with friends and someone doesn’t have fare on them/a date.

  • By Donald, November 4, 2009 @ 10:25 am

    Haha that’s what I do now, it costs me $121.50 for a 28 day pass to commute from Mission to Waterfront by getting off at Pitt Meadows, taking the 791 to Braid, and taking skytrain downtown. It’s also added about 20 minutes each way to my commute but meh, I needed to save money, and my commute from Mission is a tad faster and cheaper than commuting from Langley. I plan to spoil myself with a $269 Mission to Waterfront pass for December. :) And through the Olympics as well, I wouldn’t want to be on the bus/Skytrain during the Olympics.

  • By Donald, November 4, 2009 @ 10:28 am

    Correction: Ok not faster than Langley, but it’s faster than Aldergrove, and cheaper than both and Surrey. :)

  • By Cliff, November 4, 2009 @ 10:30 am

    Oh, I would much rather have a pass that gets me out to Mission than one from Port Moody.

    How come I never noticed that? That way, you get interoperability between the two systems without an extra fare.

  • By Mark, November 4, 2009 @ 10:49 am

    I’ve done it twice now. I catch a bus to the skytrain, then train into town and both times the bus driver never said a thing; he must have been used to me.

    However, the second time I forgot it was the first of the month, and between 22nd street and edmonds there was a fare check. The officers were very nice, they just pulled about four of us off the train, said they were doing this for “auditing” purposes, wrote the ticket and cancelled it on the spot.

  • By Mark, November 4, 2009 @ 10:56 am

    The real problem I have with forgetting fares are addfares. I work mostly in Burnaby, so have a one zone pass to commute between home and work. However, I periodically go downtown with work, and usually just buy an addfare to bump it up to two zones as needed.

    I say usually because my brain is often not working that early in the morning. So thinking “I have a pass, I can go on the train,” I hop right on at the station. Usually somwhere around Nanaimo, I will jolt up and realize I forgot to purchase the addfare.

    The comes the decision, “Do I hop off and buy one, or hope I can make it downtown?” The answer usually depends on how early or late I am running. Luckily, I’ve never had my fare checked in those instances, but it still makes me feel like an idiot.

  • By CJ Stebbing, November 4, 2009 @ 5:41 pm

    well…this did happen to me a couple of times. the most recent one happened a few months ago when i was home, and i was waiting for the C52, and i was pulling out my wallet when i heard the bus (yes, i know what it sounds like around the corner:P.) anyway, when i looked at my pass, i saw that it was LAST MONTHS! i panicked and tried scrambling for some change in my wallet, but luckily, the driver that was driving the bus at the time i knew, which was a relief. She said it was fine, and that she knew that i would get this month’s pass (which i did when i reached my transfer point.) ever since then, i try to remember to buy my pass at least 6 days before the month ends….

    HEY JHEN! that could be the next poll: How early/late do you buy your new pass for the month? lol

  • By Dave 2, November 6, 2009 @ 11:21 pm

    Just over 50%… now I know I’m not alone… I even went to the local Mall on Nov 1st to buy a pass, and after spending $200 on ‘other things’ almost forgot the pass that was the raison d’etre for the trip.

  • By ;-), November 14, 2009 @ 11:16 am

    Is the driver going to let this fellow pay his fare?

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