ALERT! : More info
Translink Buzzer Blog

On the system – fare checks are up, fare infractions are down: a follow up with Transit Security

More checks and more people getting the message about evading fares

Nearly a year ago, I was able to join Transit Security on one of their targeted fare blitzes. It was an eye-opening experience where I learned that many riders on our buses make their best effort to pay for the appropriate transit fares, while a much smaller number will go to great lengths to evade paying fares.

Between the time that I wrote that post and now, I’ve kept tabs on Transit Security and had the chance to chat with the odd one in my travels between TransLink properties and on the system. A recurring theme that has come up during these encounters is that it would be great if Transit Security could actually write fare infraction tickets. Many of the Transit Security members I spoke with said that it was frustrating to not have the power to issues fines and that some regular fare evaders knew they were unable to do so.

Last fall, TransLink was given new powers to issue and collect fare infraction tickets. Those new powers extended to Transit Security.

I’ve wanted to follow up with Transit Security to find out what if anything has changed now that they can issue fare infraction tickets. When some new figures were passed onto me regarding fare checks and fare infraction tickets issued by Transit Police and Transit Security, I knew I wanted to follow up with Transit Security. Here are the figures:

  • From when the legislation went into effect in September to the end of 2012, we conducted more than 725,000 fare checks and issued just under 11,000 fare infraction tickets.

 

  • For the same period in 2011, we conducted fewer checks (almost 550,000) but issued more violation tickets (more than 12,000).

Bobby checking fares

Since these new powers have been in place, Transit Police and Transit Security have been stepping up fare inspections. Despite these increases in checks, the number of fare infraction tickets is down. This suggests that our riders are getting the message that fare evasion is stealing and that they will be punished if caught without the proper fare while using the system.

What I wanted to know is, after so many years, what is like for Transit Security to now be able to issue these tickets? Do riders know about the fines and that Transit Security can issue them? These were my big two questions. So, I called up Transit Security and found out where they were so I could ask them these questions and more. Here’s what Bobby, Security Operations Coordinator with Transit Security told me:

Fare evasion ticket

1. Before these new powers came into place last fall, what was the process involved in having someone served with a fare infraction ticket once you or one of your colleagues discovered they were fare evading?

Before Transit Security was given the new powers of writing fare infraction tickets, all Transit Security members could do was ask the fare evading passenger to either go buy a ticket or leave the property. If the passenger became unruly, Transit Security has the right to refuse and ban the passenger to ride the bus system for 24 hours. Now with these new powers, Transit Security has the ability to issue an infraction ticket for a total of $173.00, and refuse or ban the passenger for 24 hours for unruly behavior. Not all fare evaders are given infraction tickets. Transit Security members always use their discretion in these situations. They have a choice to issue an infraction ticket or give the individual a warning.

2. Now that you and your colleagues have these new powers, what’s the process of administering a fare infraction ticket?

Transit Security members in conjunction with Transit Police meet and check fares on the transit system. Transit Security members ask the passenger without valid fare the reason for not having a valid fare. Depending on the answer provided, the security member uses their discretion to issue an infraction ticket or give that person a verbal warning. Some form of picture ID is requested, a drivers license or BC ID or social insurance card usually, and with the information provided, an infraction ticket is issued. If a passenger cannot or will not provide ID to Transit Security, we then work with Transit Police to complete the infraction ticket. However, Transit Security can issue an infraction ticket without the involvement of Transit Police.

3. Have you noticed any changes with transit riders since you and your colleagues have been given these new powers?

So far we’ve noticed that a lot of passengers have been paying for their fares. They never know when and where they will be checked for their proof of payment on the transit system.  The penalty for fare evasion is $173.00. That’s a lot of money for a lot of people; so buying your fare while travelling on the transit system is a lot cheaper than a fine. What our members have seen is that a lot of passengers are carrying some form of fares while on the system, monthly cards or Day Passes or FareSavers or they pay cash on the bus or buy tickets at the ticket machines before getting on the SeaBus or SkyTrain. Confrontation has been low and the riding public seems to encourage the fare checks.

4. What’s your biggest daily challenge when it comes to people evading fares? Has this challenge changed since you and your colleagues were been given these powers to enforce fare payment?

The biggest challenge was that we didn’t have many options before. Transit Security members could only ask the fare evader to buy a fare or leave the bus. Now the members can issue an infraction ticket. The majority of the passengers are very happy to see Transit Security on board a bus or SeaBus checking fares. Transit Security members are getting positive feedback from the public and the operators regarding the ability to issue Infraction ticket. The support we receive from Transit Security management makes the day-to-day fare enforcement much easier.

These latest fare check and fare infraction ticket numbers (above) are encouraging. However, fare evasion is something TransLink takes seriously and will continue to be vigilant to combat. As always, we’ll try our best to answer any questions you have about fare evasion as well as continue to post about the subject.

 


6 Comments

  • By ???, February 4, 2013 @ 8:19 pm

    I would love to see fair checks on the #20 just after riders board at the Broadway stations. So many people jump in the back doors, I can see the driver frustrations.

    Main Street station is another candidate with those artic buses.

  • By Neil, February 4, 2013 @ 11:04 pm

    If i’m stopped by transit security and I refuse to show my ID, they’ll refer it over to transit police. But assuming no police is close by, in the meantime can’t I just walk away? Does security have any authority to detain riders in the interim?

  • By Tone1point1, February 5, 2013 @ 1:27 am

    I was a little bit surprised to see just one security guy checking fares at Bridgeport last Friday night around 8 PM. I almost scooted right by him because he was standing in front of the escalator and I tend to choose stairs whenever possible and was intent on getting up to the platform. There is little to no consistency in the way that fares are checked. A few months back I was at Commercial, making my way from the lower to upper tracks, at the top of the escalator there were two security folks and a few feet down from them there were four officers. It seemed a bit of a heavy-handed presence for a fare check but at least they got my attention. In much the same way there is usually one lonely transit worker checking fares at the SeaBus terminal, sometimes visibly identified by a vest or some such thing, sometimes they are just wearing a suit and ID badge.

    I am absent-minded at the best of times and it would be very helpful for TranLink to enforce some consistency in their visual identity when they are conducting these random checks. If I walk right by you because you don’t look like someone in authority that I should pay attention to, don’t blame me. I’m just one of thousands who ride the system every day and by habit tune out everyone around me.

  • By Passenger, February 5, 2013 @ 10:22 am

    I love seeing Transit Security doing fare checks! They ALWAYS have at least one person with no fare when they’ve checked the bus I’m on. I have always found them to be professional and good examples of what officers should be. Keep up the good work!

  • By Robert Willis - Buzzer Editor, February 6, 2013 @ 10:01 am

    ???: Thanks for the heads up on that route. I’m forwarding informative comments like yours to Transit Security and Police. Transit Security does focus on specific routes which are known for higher levels of fare evasion to “blitz” and I know that the #20 has been one of those routes in the past.

    Neil: That’s a questions I don’t have the answer at the moment. I do know that a fare officer may, in order to issue a ticket, request from the person information about and evidence of the person’s identity and address.

    Fare evasion is one of this matters where if people are bend on evading fares they may try whatever they can to avoid being served a ticket. Closing loopholes is something that has happened with these new powers. However, there’s always more to work on.

    Tone1point1: Thanks for your comment. It’s very informative and something I’d like to share with my colleagues. Because Transit Police, Security and SkyTrain Attendants can all check fares, there are at least three uniforms that people checking fares can wear. This post can help a little with identifying who is who – http://buzzer.translink.ca/index.php/2010/01/olympic-travel-tips-a-guide-to-recognizing-your-transit-staff/

    Passenger: I’m glad you’ve had a good experience!

  • By kr2101, February 8, 2013 @ 5:27 pm

    If you get a ticket and you have a car, it’s counted as a fine by paying it through ICBC and your drivers licence. What if you don’t pay and you don’t even own a car? Then what?

Other Links to this Post

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Please read our Participation Guidelines before you comment.