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On the system – following fare evasion with Transit Police

Crowds at Burrard Station are checked for proper payment of fares.

We’re continuing the conversation about fare evasion with this second installment of on the system.

This week is the beginning of an increased focus on fare evasion on SkyTrain and on buses, West Coast Express and SeaBus.

The observant SkyTrain rider might have seen the “We don’t have a freebie line” interior sign or heard SkyTrain platform announcements about increased fare enforcement. Riders might also notice more Transit Police, Transit Security and SkyTrain attendants asking to see proof of payment on the transit system.

Interior sign about increase fare enforcement. No freebies here.

We’re stepping up our focus on fare evasion in anticipation of new legislation coming into effect in early September 2012. This new legislation will allow TransLink to collect unpaid fare evasion tickets and resolve disputes. Tools TransLink will have to help collect those tickets include escalating fines over time, the possibility of outstanding fines being sent to a collection agency and ICBC having the right to refuse to issue or renew a driver’s license or vehicle registration.

As noted in the first installment of this series, which looked a Transit Security increasing fare checks on buses, over the course of one week in February, fare evasion was reduced from 11 per cent to just under eight per cent on one problem route. Like Transit Security, Transit Police are doing more fare checks this summer in order to deter fare evasion and make sure everyone is paying their fair share.

Fare evasion on the Expo Line – July 23, 2012

Jhen and I met up with Constable Gusic of Transit Police on the first day of heightened fare checks this summer. The Constable, who’s been with the force for four years, has checked more than a few fares in his day. In fact, he says roughly 50 per cent of his time on the job is devoted to fare evasion.

For Transit Police, fare evasion is an important daily exercise, but one that takes a back seat to the protection of human life. All of the activities of the Transit Police on the system relates to the maintenance of the public peace and the prevention of crime and offenses according to the laws of Canada and British Columbia (more info on Transit Police). This focus on crime prevention relates to the Transit Police Priorities of protection of persons, property and revenue.

Transit Police stepping up enforcement of transit fares at Main Street-Science World Station.

So when Constable Gusic isn’t checking fares, he’s responding to calls about medical emergencies, public safety and investigating offenses on or around transit property, which including daily liaising with Metro Vancouver Police departments in all of the communities served by our transit system.

Constable Gusic told us, “Most people pay their fares, and most people who don’t pay their fares are polite and cooperative.” However, it’s the smaller percentage of people who aren’t truthful about their true identity that take up a lot of the Transit Police’s time. As the Constable says, “It takes a while to identify who they are.”

Improperly identifying oneself could mean that the Police issue a ticket to someone that doesn’t exist, or even worse, the wrong person. Either way, lying about ones identity when responding to a police officer in the execution of their duty is a Criminal Code of Canada offense.

There were more than 10, 000 fare checks made and over 100 violations tickets issued on Monday, July 23 along various station on the Expo Line. Transit users can expect coordinated check like these throughout the summer across the entire system.

Transit Police writing a ticket.

What we saw

As illustrated in the Burrard SkyTrain fare checks, fare evaders may be wanted for other violations besides fare evasion. In 2011, Transit Police made over 700 arrests of persons who were breaking court imposed conditions or wanted for outstanding justice systems warrants.

After Burrard SkyTrain station, Transit Police, Transit Security and SkyTrain attendants moved to the Main Street – Science World Station. Within the first 15 minutes, all three groups of fare checkers were busy.

A background check on one possible fare evader was one of the first fare evasion issue on the Main Street platform. The person in question had a warrant for his arrest in Ontario. We also witnessed a woman who was stopped because she was using a concession fare instead of an adult fare. She tried to negotiate paying the difference in cost between the two fares rather than being issued a ticket. On the other side of the platform, a man was caught without a ticket in the fare paid zone and was stopped by Transit Police when he tried to get away via the stairwell.

Once you enter the fare paid zone you may be asked for your fare.

We asked Constable Gusic what process is taken when someone is unable to produce the proper fare. “We run the name through a database,” says Constable Gusic.  “If it comes back with no previous tickets on record and if they’ve been truthful about who they are and their reason for not having a ticket, that officer, depending on the circumstances, could write a warning ticket.” That warning is added to the database. If that person is found using the system without the proper fare again, the officer would know that they had already been warned.

Fare evasion and TransLink

As we approach September and the change in mechanism for collection and resolution of fare evasion fines, we’d like to restart the dialogue about reducing the amount of fare evasion on the system.

We know from a couple of our internal audits that the fare evasion rate across the system is between four and six per cent. We also know that stepping up fare evasion checks can reduce the amount of fare evasion on the system. We’re curious about what you think.


49 Comments

  • By Jaegen, July 25, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

    I’m sorry – I’ve bitten my tongue on this topic until now, but I just can’t anymore…

    “We run the name through a database,” says Constable Gusic. “If it comes back with no previous tickets on record and if they’ve been truthful about who they are and their reason for not having a ticket, that officer, depending on the circumstances, could write a warning ticket.”

    This runs completely contrary to what I was told by the Translink officer who issued me a ticket (along with the $173 fine). I accidentally re-used my evening commute ticket in the validation machine the next morning. I realized my mistake on my way up the escalator. Even though I had 1 1/2 books of unused tickets with me, the officer said (literally) “It’s black and white. You don’t have valid fare – you get a ticket”. There was absolutely no attempt to asses how “truthful” I was – she started writing up the ticket immediately.

    Either there are rogue officers not following this supposed “truthfulness” check, or we’re not being told the whole truth…

  • By VanTransitFan, July 25, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

    Just saying but if I were TransLink, I would have a fare inspection in all stations, all day non-stop. Simple as that. From opening hours to closing hours.

    *NOTE: It’s just a suggestion I came up with. :P

  • By Mark, July 25, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    I have a problem with the fare evasion rates as stated in the last paragraph: “We know from a couple of our internal audits that the fare evasion rate across the system is between four and six per cent.”

    According to numbers stated earlier in the article: “There were more than 10, 000 fare checks made and over 100 violations tickets issued on Monday, July 23 along various station on the Expo Line.” Now, unless my math is seriously wrong, “over 100” into “over 10,000” works out to be .01%, not the stated 4-6%. I realize that this is a single sample day as opposed to a full blown study, but I question the numbers. A single sample day doing over 10,000 checks should correspond roughly to what one might see across a larger sampling. Where is the math breaking down on this?

  • By Mark, July 25, 2012 @ 7:58 pm

    Ok, so my math really is off… 1% vs my previously stated .01%. However, it still seems off when compared to the 4-6% mentioned in the post.

  • By Steven, July 25, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

    Since there will be a combined Drivers Licence and Care Card coming in the future I assume if proceedings are taken to deny renewals of the licence this won’t affect or interrupt some ones health care access or coverage? I assume they won’t be able to renew their drivers licence but would have to go through the process of validating their stand alone Care Card as a separate entity (?). I am hoping that the necessary organisations are communicating a strategy for this?

  • By Sheba, July 25, 2012 @ 9:56 pm

    From what I read, those numbers are only from the Expo Skytrain stations they checked that day – when you add in the other lines and buses (which have a button the driver can push to count when someone refuses to pay their fare – it came up on here before) the numbers will be different. Still they don’t really have any ‘proof’ on how many people don’t pay their fares.

  • By User, July 25, 2012 @ 10:34 pm

    @ jaegden

    Each person is different. Just like if you get pulled over for driving. Some officers care to listen to what you have to say and have a personal interpretation on the situation. Some look at it as black/white, personally I agree with this. Even mistakes have consequences, it makes it so you typically won’t make the same mistake a second time. If you leave things to personal interpretation then things are not equal. Being equal, is not always fair.

    @ Mark

    The sample size is definitely small. I agree it is different than the quoted percentages, but certain days will yield more than others. Certain routes are worse than others etc. If they found 1% evasion while jumping around through stations not on an event day, which would presumably be worse with the load of passengers going all over the place.

    I love the fact that they are out there more, I always have my card on me so I don’t have much of a problem. I see a lot of people pleading ignorance but I don’t think it should matter. If they are clearly a first time transit user, then sure mistakes can be made. If I was a first timer, given a ticket for making an honest mistake I would be mad as well only if I was not shown the proper way. If the officer or skytrain personal showed me what I did wrong, how to do it right, and educated me a bit on the system afterwards I would feel fine about it. Because they set me up to do it right next time, and every mistake has a cost large or small, it would be a painful learning bill but at least I got something out of it aside from a hand full of confusion and probably another ticket at a later date. Also a first timer should take a little bit of ownership and try to learn online a bit about how the system works and get some information over the phone if needed.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 25, 2012 @ 11:41 pm

    I agree with User, regarding treating people according to the rule. In fare checks, people should be treated equally. In this case, equal is fair. To make the police judge, jury, and “executioner” is bad, because it opens them up to bias.

    Just pay the fine–please. :^) In return, the rider should get a month pass for the remainder of the current month, even if it is less than a day.

  • By mark!, July 26, 2012 @ 12:19 am

    @Mark

    The 1% comes from a very small sample size on a small part of the system. Fare evasion varies from location, time of day as well as the mode of transit.

    Expo vs Millennium vs Canada Lines, Weekday vs Weekend, SkyTrain vs SeaBus vs Bus, Morning vs Mid-day vs Late Night, 99 B-Line vs 97 B-Line, etc.

    As an example, here’s a quote from Robert’s last On the System post when they checked buses: “Fare evasion was reduced from 11 per cent to just under eight per cent on one problem route.” – http://buzzer.translink.ca/index.php/2012/02/on-the-system-fare-evasion/

    To expect the results from one spot check to line up with the 4-6% estimate isn’t very realistic.

  • By Langdon, July 26, 2012 @ 12:42 am

    I can only say, “complete the faregates more quickly!” is the only way to prevent mistakes.

    Also, if you let people in, you should let people to have a chance to pay regular fares. I don’t know where did Jaegen get the inspection, but that definitely should not happened inside the fare paid zone. The police should stop fare evaders from getting in, not giving out tickets to people who make mistakes.

  • By Cliff, July 26, 2012 @ 2:22 am

    Transit police generally do write temporary fares for people that genuinely have no way to pay so they do not receive a second ticket.

    Considering that a speeding ticket doesn’t grant me the right to speed for the rest of the day, I’d say that’s more than fair.

    Awarding a bus pass for the remainder of the month for someone who dodges a fare is much too lenient.

    What I see as part of the issue is that there are so many unpaid fines floating around. And from what I’ve read in the past, many of these fines are actually to repeat offenders. I have a hard time believing that someone who’s income comes in on welfare Wednesday is going to ever have enough money to pay a fine. It does no good to pile on the fines to someone who is incapable of paying in the first place.

    Often times, the option to slowly pay off these fines is available but the option is not often known. Advertise this fact and maybe even dangle a carrot for those who pay their fines. Offer a reduction for those who start up on a payment plan and follow through with it.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 26, 2012 @ 6:41 am

    I meant, if the rider pays his $200+ fine then and there, then give a month pass for the remainder of the month. It would be cheaper for the rider to have bought it in the first place. Passes should not be given to fare dodgers.

  • By Dan, July 26, 2012 @ 10:27 am

    Am I the only one who noticed that offence(s) was spelled with an ‘S’ instead of a ‘C’? Tsk, tsk, Canadian spelling only please! ;)

    @VanTransitFan: In a perfect world, where money wasn’t an object, TransLink could easily do this. Then again, in a _perfect_ world, transit would be free!

    @Mark: I think there’s a larger problem on city bus routes where there isn’t controlled access like on Sea Bus or SkyTrain. Drivers don’t even bother checking fares in many places since there have been assaults from intransigent fare evaders. In other places, busy routes make it very difficult to do spot checks and coordinated sweeps, especially during rush hour.

    @Steven: Denying health coverage to a Canadian because of an unpaid fare evasion ticket would be a violation of the Canada Health Act. Be grateful you don’t live in the States, where you very much would lose health coverage for something equally petty.

    P.S. – The Captcha is “Khan”. Can I get a Captain Kirk impression here?

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, July 26, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

    Jaegan: Thanks for the comment. To my understanding, if you don’t have the right fare once you pass the fare paid zone you are subject to a fine. However, as noted, it’s ultimately up to an officer if they will administer a warning ticket or a violation ticket.

    VanTransitFan: Unfortunately, TransLink doesn’t have the funding to pay for more officers to do fare checks at the moment.

    Mark: Your math is correct. However, as you noted, this is only one example. The two audits cited looked at data over more than a year of service. A 4-6 per cent level of four evasion is comparable to other transit authorities. That said, fare evasion is a loss of revenue and raises questions about fairness. For us, we try to combat fare evasion as best we can with the resources we have. We know that reducing fare evasion 100% is impossible. Therefore, a question I have is – is there a level of fare evasion that the public feels they can tolerate?

    Steven: I hadn’t heard about a combined driver’s license and care card before. Here’s a press release on it – http://www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2009-2013/2011HLTH0026-000565.htm You raise a good question. As far as I know, driver’s licensing and care cards will not be linked, just link via the one card. However, I’ll look into it and comment if I’m wrong about this.

    Sheba: You are right about this one check only being on the Expo Line. With Compass Card, we hope it will be harder for people to evade paying their fares. However, as noted, we won’t be able to stop fare evaders 100%.

    User: I personally couldn’t agree with you more.

    Langdon: When entering a SkyTrain station you have a chance to pay your fare. To ticket someone without giving them the chance to pay wouldn’t be right. There’s signage in the stations that tells users that they must have the proper fares once they reach the fare paid zone. Officers can only administer violations in fare paid zones.

    Cliff: As noted above, “Is there a level of fare evasion that the public feels they can tolerate?” speaks to this. Some people do not have the means to take transit and don’t have the means to pay for ticket violations. There is a Province of BC subsidized bus program which people can apply for – http://www.eia.gov.bc.ca/PROGRAMS/other.htm#bp I’d be interested in your answer to this question.

    Eugene: As usual, you have some creative ideas/solutions. I’ve never thought of giving a FareCard to a person caught evading a fare. Maybe I’m missing your point, but do you feel giving a FareCard for violating the rules to be a good deterrent from violating in the future? I’m personally of the similar mind as Cliff on this.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 26, 2012 @ 4:07 pm

    I doubt that giving the pass would make the rider better behaved, but it would help the rider to not lose morale or support for the company. It’s almost what you and Jhenifer and other staff are doing when you respond: you prevent unhappiness from developing.

    When riders maintain their support, the positive effects of the fine are able to do their work. In other words, since you still have a loyal customer, the customer is willing to rethink his ways [e.g. “What can I do to avoid this, next time?”]. As long as the fine is enough to cover all costs of policing and such, plus the costs of the trips in the remainder of the month, it will actually make life easier for everybody for the rest of the month.

    This will be pretty useless against people who cheat on purpose, but this could potentially be a godsend to those who struggle to keep themselves organized.

    I, myself, have been very disorganized. On a regular basis, I find myself forgetting to buy more FareSavers.

    Also, Translink and BC Transit have traditionally been behind the times, when it comes to collecting money. The “new” $5 bills in the mid 90’s have caused some people grief.

    I still remember signs up at that New Westminster Station grocery on the mezzanine level. It said that a purchase was required, in order for them to make change. So, that essentially raised the fare for those who were on a budget, and who wanted to pay in an honour system. The sign strongly implies that people wanted to pay honestly when nobody was looking.

    To add insult to injury, the Royal Bank on Columbia grudgingly made change for me when there were problems with the $20 bills the ticket machines. I could still remember their bad attitude so clearly. Imagine that: a bank that spends thousands on getting our attention via advertising, doesn’t want us to enter their building for money purposes. On the second time that I did this, I think that the bank manager literally came out with the coins, and said, “We don’t do this here.”. I switched to President’s Choice. I hope that the Royal Bank goes out of business, and I speak evil of them whenever I can.

    I think that we would need a psychologist/sociologist to really get us a solid answer on this fare evasion issue, but I feel pretty strongly about giving out those passes.

  • By Sheba, July 26, 2012 @ 4:43 pm

    Robert – that subsidized bus pass you linked to is the annual bus pass that is *only* for people with disability status and low income seniors. No one else can apply for it.

  • By User, July 26, 2012 @ 7:53 pm

    @ Eugene

    Giving them a month pass is a interesting idea. It would at least show them the value that it’s A: Cheaper B: much less embarrassing and C: faster. It would be neat to see this idea implements for a bit and see the public reaction. I was originally against this thought, but after reading your further posts elaborating a bit more on the subject and the way it would impact, I have to agree with you. The people that are trying to do it honestly will be grateful and it could make the difference of them being able to afford a bus pass next month or having to roll the dice again, so to speak. The people who abuse the system are always going to try to abuse the system regardless of programs in place. As long as the amount of times people are caught are kept, as mentioned in the post, there could be a limit in place where this happens. Perhaps a limit of three times a year, or once every three months.

    That’s a horrible Royal Bank experience. A friend of mine had some troubles with them over loans a few years back, they seem not to be focused on customer service.

    @ Langdon

    I disagree. They need to be inside the fair paid zones, it is their duty to catch people fare evading not make sure the TVM’s are being used. There is plenty of signage all throughout to let people know they need to have fare prior to entering the fair paid zone. There is also a free information phone in non-fare paid zones if people have questions. I feel due-diligence has been done prior to stepping into the fair paid zones.

    @ Cliff

    If someone cannot afford a fine you think they would be a bit more careful and buy their fare. After all, paying for your fare is significantly cheaper than the fine. Just because someone is in a rough position doesn’t mean they cannot help themselves by not making it worse. Transit is not free, if you cannot pay for it either try to get a fare-referral (for the odd occasion) or try biking/walking/etc. I do agree with the payment plan. Advertising that option will hopefully help people get their debts under control so they can afford to not put themselves into the same position over and over.

  • By Cliff, July 26, 2012 @ 10:00 pm

    Oh, far from it. I’m not saying people should ride free at all. If you use it, pay for it.

    I’m very happy to hear that there is a subsidized bus pass programme besides what is offered to the disabled. I think, then the issue is information. Perhaps the problem can be improved upon by adding information at the bottom of the violation ticket. Something big black and bold stating “IF YOU OR A LOVED ONE CANNOT AFFORD PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, CALL 1-800-XXX-XXXX.”

    This might help stem the problem of people picking up fine after fine after fine.

  • By Eugene Wong, July 26, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

    @ User

    Thanks for the support.

    @ All

    Another reason to be careful when dealing with fare evaders is that some of them might be typical month pass holders. As such, they might be accustomed to just walking into a downtown station, and not worrying about showing their passes until they get to a bus.

    I have always had trouble switching from month passes to FareSavers. I don’t deserve special treatment, but the idea is that a month pass holder is a loyalist, and as such, should be punished fairly and gently.

    Another alternative is to make the fine very steep, and then let the police give leeway accordingly, as if each person were honest. The fines would be the same all across the board. It would pay for the policing, plus the “give back”. So, if the evader claimed to be used to carrying a 3-zone pass, then the police would give him a 3-zone pass, *if* he seemed honest [i.e. check ID and stuff]. If the evader claimed to be used to carrying a 1-zone FareSaver, well, then he’d get a lot less in return, but the police aren’t there to run a charity.

    The thing is that I think that some people would be honest, and some would be liars. It would take a lot of pressure off the police, while still forcing them to at least enforce some kind of punishment.

    Also, it puts people in the position of asking for something, instead of trying to justify themselves.

    I honestly can’t predict how well this would work. Even if it would work, I heard that we should never talk to cops without a lawyer, since the cops are not our friends.

  • By Robert, July 27, 2012 @ 11:55 am

    Re the officer who stated “It’s black and white. You don’t have valid fare – you get a ticket”: one can only hope the officer is briefed about any recent system delays at the start of her shift. Imagine being trapped on a train between stations for 30+ minutes, then getting a $173 ticket for holding an expired fare!

  • By John B, July 27, 2012 @ 2:44 pm

    It’s really nice to see Transit Security and police checking more fares. Translink needs to hire more Transit Security for the buses!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, July 27, 2012 @ 4:17 pm

    Eugene: Your idea of giving an incentive to not fare evade is one I’m going to have to give more thought. I think you might be onto something.

    Sheba: You’re right. I don’t think the subsidized pass can help everyone who needs it. I believe this discussion about people who can not pay for fares is actually a bigger societal question about poverty. This of course includes public transit and, again, brings up my question – is there a level of fare evasion that the public feels they can tolerate? Sheba, what do you think?

    Robert: As noted in the post, Transit Police are given some discretion when it comes to administering fines. I too hope that the Police would be aware of delays on the system when giving out fines. It’s my understanding that the Police are very well aware of the state of the system at most times. Good point though!

  • By Langdon, July 27, 2012 @ 7:18 pm

    I wonder, if people are in platform level already and not yet board the train, do they not get a chance to go back to the vending machine level to get tickets? Or they are just fined?

    I believe the whole purpose of this is to make people pay for their services. And sometimes a kind reminder will solve this problem. I hope Translink’s purpose is not to increase fine revenues.

  • By Scott, July 27, 2012 @ 10:49 pm

    When boarding at Metrotown station today around 18:45, there were a total of 11 transit cops, skytrain attendants and transit security checking tickets. How is that type of manpower justifed to check tickets at ONE station!!! That is crazy. Add up the wages those people are making and that is a huge expense. 11 people is overkill to check tickets at one station with one main entrance.

  • By Eric, July 28, 2012 @ 8:22 am

    My experience with ‘fare enforcement’ at the beginning of Feb consisted of me and a bunch of other probably legitimate u-pass students getting screwed into buying tickets because for whatever reason we didn’t pick up our new u-pass on time.

    In my case I didn’t find out till January 31st when I went to pick up my upass that they lock up the machines after like 4:30pm.

  • By User, July 28, 2012 @ 10:19 pm

    @ Langdon

    I believe once they start their fare checks, they check everyone at the platform level and then move to the stairs. They would handle the situation the same as someone just coming up the stairs, it would be at the discretion of the officer. There are many reminders prior to entering the fare zone.

    @ Scott

    It does seem that way.. but keep in mind, once they catch someone they need to pull them aside and go through the motions, which from what I’ve seen can take up to 20min. So if they get a few people back to back, it could back everything up. That 11 can quickly turn down into 2-3 at the stairs and considering most officers do things in pairs to avoid issue’s (people making claims such as he/she said vs what they thought they heard and such) . Then there is the possibility that someone runs, assaults them, giving them false information (which in turn leads to them having to make an arrest as it’s illegal to give a false ID etc). There is a lot that can happen, quickly, when you have ten’s of hundreds of people flowing through the stairways. It’s also not meant to slow down commuters. Would you rather see 4 officers there, backing up people’s commutes by X amount of time, maybe missing your connections, or see enough to know that they are safe, the public is safe, and you’re commute it not changed much. I would strongly dislike being a paying commuter and getting backed up due to a lack of officers checking/writing up tickets for evaders and missing a connection. Metrotown is also an incredibly busy station and you were there during a busy time of the time. 11 may sound over-kill, but I wouldn’t go below 10 probably at Metrotown at that time.

    @ Eric

    So you got ‘screwed’ into buying tickets because you didn’t pick up your u-pass on time? I don’t think that’s getting screwed, that’s having to pay for not taking ownership and getting you’re u-pass on time. Otherwise, you would have been fare evading. If I was told, “I just haven’t picked up my u-pass yet” I would have given you a ticket, not the chance to buy one. Take the responsibility and don’t leave things until the last day and you will not get ‘screwed’ into having to have valid fare.

    That sounds like a problem with your school, as I believe the u-pass machines and such are all controlled by the school. Not being a u-pass holder myself, I cannot speak to if this program if it was recently changed. Unless you are a first year student, this is something I think you would have already known.

  • By Eric, July 30, 2012 @ 12:30 am

    @user:

    The u-pass program underwent substantial changes a few months before that took place, so I was indeed not aware that the u-pass pickup was confined to 9-5ish business hours… since the u-passes are dispensed by machines which don’t really need to be staffed for any obvious reasons.

    I should also note that the following months’ u-passes were already paid for (as required of all u-pass-eligible people!) just that my schedule didn’t provide me much of an opportunity to retrieve the pass. I wouldn’t call that fare evasion.

    Maybe we were spoiled back when the semester-long u-passes were mailed out to us, but the new system seems needlessly inconvenient.

    To be fair to translink that may indeed be an issue with my school, maybe I should bring it up with them.
    (judging from a bit of research it looks like most schools have their machines in an area with fairly limited hours of access (eg. bookstores))

  • By Eugene Wong, July 30, 2012 @ 12:57 am

    Perhaps the universities and colleges should mail them out, if the passes are paid for ahead of time. I’ve never heard of a dispensing machine that only works at certain times.

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, July 30, 2012 @ 9:56 am

    Eric: I can’t speak to how your school chooses to administer the program, but I do know the current system of U-Pass distribution has evolved owing to illegal sales of the passes. With monthly cards, it’s a bit easier to keep this kind of activity in check, though it does take the convenience factor down a notch.

  • By User, July 30, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    @ Eric

    That is unfortunate… 9-5 seems very restricted, especially considering you have already paid for it via tuition. If they are done by machines, one would think it’s retrievable at a wider range of times or in a better location. I can see how this would be disappointing if you got a ticket due to this limitation, or in your case had to buy a fare due to a poorly made dispensing program. I was still under the impression that you were given semester long cards. I’m surprised they didn’t make it a mail program, I’m sure most students would even consider paying a small fee to be on a mailing list to avoid this kind of thing. Hopefully the school(s) improve the program.

    @ Jhen

    Would the sales of illegal u-pass’s fall under the fare evasion budget? Just curious to see if they are added into the estimated %’s. If someone is caught with someone else’s u-pass what is done about it? I haven’t seen a u-pass before, but I imagine they have a picture on them? Or at least a name of the student? Considering they are committing fraud I imagine they could incur a criminal record if charged, or at least a substantial fine. Perhaps if this is done then there wouldn’t be a need to change the pass. Having some bad apples affecting the whole bunch has got to be frustrating to the majority.

  • By Oswald, August 1, 2012 @ 3:15 am

    What disgusts me is the fact that tax payers have to cough up an overwhelming amount of money to retrofit the Expo Line because turnstiles were not thought of in the first place—especially during a world’s fair of all things! Had we installed a gating system from day one, we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in now. When you make people pay to ride the system they use, the system pays for itself! Relying on an honour system is like standing on the street with a hat out and expecting spare change. Why weren’t turnstiles implemented at least when the Millennium Line was built? Translink by now would have the revenue at least to begin paying for system expansions and operation costs rather than hiking up taxes!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, August 1, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    Hi Oswald: I wrote to some of your comments in a previous post – http://buzzer.translink.ca/index.php/2012/02/the-costs-of-fare-evasion/#comment-127249 As noted, we estimate fare evasion costs TransLink roughly $7 million are year. We estimate that fare gates will recoup some of this loss in revenue, but not all of it. While the savings can be significant with fare gates, they are not enough to cover for projected overall funding the present state of transit let alone expansion. As you may know, we’re undergoing a Provincial audit of which the findings should be released later this year. The Province is looking to find roughly $40 million in savings and the hope is that alternative funding for transit is found in the near future.

  • By Eugene Wong, August 1, 2012 @ 6:19 pm

    @ Robert

    Thanks for reminding the readers about that.

    I also need to remind the readers that the amount money saved by faregates will be even less than predicted, since an attendant will probably be available at all times. I recall the question about how the month pass will work for groups on Sundays. In order for an attendant to let the group through a handicap gate, an attendant will have to be there at all times.

    Even after we pay off those gates, we will have to continue to pay for workers to stand there while the trains are in service. We will have to hire 45-50 gate keepers at SkyTrain stations to work for 18+ hours per day for roughly $20 hour, which comes to $18,000/day, which comes to $6,570,000/year. That’s well over six million dollars, in addition to current staffing levels, because they can’t keep staff from other problems and needs.

    I thought that my math was bad, but think of it this way. If we only hire 10 gatekeepers at $10/hour for 10 hours, then we pay $1,000/day, or $365,000/year.

    I find that demoralizing. Maybe the passengers will have to call for an attendant to travel to the station and open the gate. This could reduce the amount of gatekeepers.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, August 2, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    Hi Eugene: I asked our Compass Card people about your thoughts regarding staff and the fare gates: Here’s what they said,

    “We will not necessarily need attendants right at gates all of the time. There will be faregate monitoring centres for the Expo/Millennium Line and for Canada Line, with staff on duty during all operating hours. These people will be able to control gates remotely and solve problems if a gate malfunctions or a customer’s card doesn’t work properly or, in the case of the ‘group offer’ on Sundays and Holidays, to open the gates to let them all through.

    A dedicated customer service phone next to the gates will put passengers in direct contact with the monitoring centre, and our station video network has been expanded to allow staff to see every gate array on the system.”

    They also mentioned that they expect to reduce the number of staff concerned with the gates after the transition period from the present system to fare gates is complete.

  • By Eugene Wong, August 2, 2012 @ 3:37 pm

    @ Robert

    Thanks for that! I must say that I’m impressed.

  • By Michael B, October 25, 2012 @ 7:19 am

    How long does it take for a court date to contest a fare evasion ticket? I received my ticket almost exactly a year ago, and immediately sent in my request for a court appearance, but I still have not been informed of a date to appear. If there are translink staff monitoring these comments I would very much appreciate any information. Thanks!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, November 20, 2012 @ 2:13 pm

    Hi Micheal: Have you filled out a notice of appeal? There more info on this here – http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Fare-Infractions/Disputing-a-Fare-Infraction.aspx

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano - Buzzer Editor, January 15, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

    Michael: here’s a follow up response from Transit Police.

    To find out the court date, you can go back to your court house/icbc agent – your place of requesting a dispute appearance – and ask for an update. You should have a court date, and the place of registering is where you will get your info. Any ICBC or courthouse should be able to help you as they all have the info.

  • By Jenny, October 29, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

    When they are protecting passenger safety, they are transit officers. When they are issuing citations, they are glorified tax collectors. I would love to read a story about how they increased patrols to offset stories like the Straight is running about women feeling unsafe on transit. As that doesn’t increase revenue for this fiscally mismanaged entity, I won’t hold my breath.

  • By Maria, November 1, 2013 @ 10:37 am

    I find, in my case, I wasn’t trying to avoid paying; I thought I did pay. I wasn’t aware that I needed my student ID along with my Upass to properly use it. So not knowing this I went to the skytrain on a Sunday heading to work and saw the transit police. I took out my Upass and showed it to him and he asked for my student ID. Normally I would have had it in my wallet but I forgot I left it in my bag at home so I told him I didn’t have it. I also didn’t sign the back of the Upass because I forgot. He not only gave me a ticket, he also took my Upass away. I was devastated. He didn’t even check if I was a current student or not. I could understand giving me a ticket but also taking my upass? I know it was my fault but I felt it was very unfair. Since it was the beginning of the month I ended up paying for a 2-zone monthly pass with my very very limited student budget.

    Anyway the moral of the story is if you have a Upass don’t forget your student ID and sign the back. Or the police should have some device (smartphone…?) to prove that I am NOT a student before taking away what I have paid for.

  • By Quirky, November 18, 2013 @ 8:39 pm

    This is a little later down the line but I want to correct some information written by Robert Willis, Buzzer Editor, on July 26, 2012

    He wrote: ‘Some people do not have the means to take transit and don’t have the means to pay for ticket violations. There is a Province of BC subsidized bus program which people can apply for – http://www.eia.gov.bc.ca/PROGRAMS/other.htm#bp

    Robert, your general information, like your link, is misleading.

    1. This is the appropriate link: http://www.eia.gov.bc.ca/programs/bus-pass.html

    2. These are the persons who qualify for the Bus Pass Program:

    To be eligible for the BC Bus Pass Program, the applicant must be living in a transit service area where the annual pass is available and meet one of the following criteria:

    Receiving Federal Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), or the Federal Allowance, or the Allowance for the Survivor;

    18 – 64 years of age and receiving Persons with Disability (PWD) assistance from the Ministry of Social Development and Social Innovation;

    60 – 64 years of age and receiving Income Assistance from the Province of British Columbia;

    Over 65 years of age and would qualify for GIS but does not meet the Canadian 10 year residency requirement;

    18-64 years of age, living on a First Nations reserve and receiving disability assistance from the band office; or

    60 – 64 years of age, living on a First Nations reserve and receiving assistance from the band office.

    ****

    Please note that there is limited access to the Bus Pass Program. It is not available for the working poor, students, persons living on non-government disability funding, etc… so to imply that it is a program available for the general public is in error.

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, November 19, 2013 @ 9:35 am

    Hi Quirky! Thanks for updating that link. You are right, there are limitations to who can take advantage of the subsidized bus pass program. However, there are also some programs available to some students – http://www.translink.ca/en/Fares-and-Passes/Student-Passes.aspx. To be fare, I didn’t mention that these programs are open to what you call, “the general public”. There are rules around who can take advantage of them. To note, the Bus Pass program is a Provincial program.

    Thanks for your thoughts on this Quirky!

  • By student10, April 8, 2014 @ 9:28 am

    will this show on your record? is this an offense you have to write down on documents you have to fill up (e.g. when you leave country or when you renew passport/drivers license? ) help

  • By jj, January 3, 2019 @ 9:44 am

    How many millions did Vancouver Transit earn last year from the advertisement on buses and the Skytrain?

  • By Keith, September 16, 2019 @ 11:17 pm

    I’m a person with a disability, and I’ve been told my transit police, that if I don’t have ID with my transit card, they could fine me?!.. This is beyond discriminatory, and is absolutely appalling. This company shouldn’t even have jurisdiction to be writing people tickets>.< If this company is going to randomly fine people for not carrying their identification with them on supposed "public" transit, than they should be cut off from subsidies and the card program should be abolished altogether. I'm sick and tired of these transit police treating people like their the gustapu. They get the funds on each swipe, and double swiping is impossible, so what else could this law entail, beyond discriminating the disadvantaged, and essentially threatening our living standards by applying fines on the disabled. There's absolutely no reasoning behind this law, and it needs to be abolished.

Other Links to this Post

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