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.”

Surrey North Delta Leader

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

Just Posted

PHOTOS: The day 28,000 Lollapalooza-goers rocked Cloverdale in 1994

Fans share memories of drugs, bad Smashing Pumpkins, Nick Cave walk-off and ‘letdown’ of Surrey date

Surrey veteran feels pinch from COVID-19 after cancelled surgery

Caught between two countries, and low income, soldier feels he’s been forgotten

Surrey parents, students navigate remote learning during COVID-19

The Surrey school district teachers are slowly rolling out plans for new way of educating

Two people fined for trying to re-sell N95 and surgical masks in Delta

Police confiscated over 5,000 masks and are working with Fraser Health to see them put to good use

Peace Arch News ad sparks discussion about value of community newspapers

White Rock resident hopes front-page note shines light on revenue loss during COVID-19 crisis

VIDEO: ‘Used gloves and masks go in the garbage,’ says irked B.C. mayor

Health officials have said single-use gloves won’t do much to curb the spread of COVID-19

Sex workers face new risks during COVID-19 pandemic

‘Desperation has kicked in’ for vulnerable, undocumented workers unable to access help

Unclear if Cowichan couple refusing to self-isolate will face penalty

No fines or charges have been laid to date, including Cowichan couple who won’t self isolate

COVID-19: Postponed surgeries will be done, B.C. health minister says

Contract with private surgical clinic to help clear backlog

Vancouver man, 21, charged after mother found dead in Squamish home

Ryan Grantham, 21, has been charged with second-degree murder

Fraser Valley’s tulips fields off limits to visitors due to COVID-19

Abbotsford and Chilliwack tulip farmers have announced their festival season won’t go ahead

Don’t stop going to the doctor, just do it virtually: B.C. association

Doctors encourage patients to access telephone, online visits

Most Read