Ridership is growing on TransLink buses

Bus fare evasion more than doubles

TransLink lost $5.3 million in revenue last year, up from $2.4 million in 2008

The amount of money lost to fare evasion on the bus system has more than doubled in the last three years, according to TransLink estimates.

Riders who boarded buses without paying the proper amount cost the system an estimated $5.3 million in 2010, up from $3.1 million in 2009 and $2.4 million in 2008.

TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie confirmed the numbers, provided to CKNW under a Freedom of Information request.

It’s difficult to say why bus fare cheating increased that much, he said, but noted ridership has been steadily growing and fares went up in the spring of 2010.

A large number of new riders began using the transit system during the year of the 2010 Olympics.

Hardie said many of them may have made errors that auditors also record as fare evasion – such as mistakenly buying a one-zone ticket but riding for two or three.

“In 2010 we were dealing with so many new people on the system,” he said. “A lot of people may have been detected as misusing when they just didn’t know.”

The fare evasion rate for buses for 2010 was 3.2 per cent, according to the estimates.

Hardie said fare evasion covers not just riders who outright refuse to pay but those who “stretch” a ticket to more zones than allowed as well as those who may actually have monthly passes but forgot them at home.

TransLink’s new radio system on buses includes a button drivers can press to record a passenger boarding without the right fare.

That was supposed to help TransLink track routes and even times where fare evaders are prevalent and then step up enforcement.

But Hardie said the system hasn’t yet met expectations, adding the data is “quite unreliable.”

Bus drivers are told not to try to enforce payment, because disputes with cheaters sometimes end in driver assaults.

Hardie said the estimate of $5.3 million last year – made by auditors checking a sample of several thousand bus riders and extrapolating – was still less than one per cent of the revenue brought in by bus fares.

TransLink’s new Compass smart card payment system should help reduce some fare evasion when it is launched in 2013.

Abuse of the zone system should end, Hardie said, because the tag-on, tag-off system will charge smart card holders based on the actual distance they travel.

University students who sell unwanted U-Passes are unlikely to continue doing that, he added, because the U-Pass will become a smart card chip embedded in their student card.

Ticket flippers who resell used tickets people give them will also be out of luck once most paper tickets vanish.

Hardie did not have up-to-date estimates of fare evasion on SkyTrain, but past audits have pegged the rate at about six per cent.

Along with smart cards, TransLink is installing fare gates to end the open access to SkyTrain stations.

The changes aren’t expected to thwart all cheaters.

“There’s an element out there who will still try to find a way around it,” Hardie said,

“No system anywhere we know of has the full answer to fare evasion.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rideshare expands into eastern Langley

As of Thursday, Lyft is now offering service throughout Metro Vancouver

Maple Ridge redirects $225,000 from RCMP to community safety needs

A new manager and two community safety officers join a team patrolling the city’s downtown streets

Mayors welcome rideshare expansion into Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge

As of Thursday, Lyft is now offering service throughout Metro Vancouver

Maple Ridge Return-It centre serves as pilot for new beverage recycling effort

Haney Bottle Depot will be part of a six-month trial where consumers don’t have to sort their cans

Foundation seeks to bring ‘meaningful’ art to Hammond

Asking Maple Ridge residents for suggestions on design and theme for two large community murals

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Conservation officers relocate Spirit bear known to roam northwestern B.C.

Bear roamed valley north of Terrace for many years

B.C. premier applauds call to decriminalize drug possession

Police shouldn’t struggle with health issues, Horgan says

Most Read