Craigslist clamps down on transit U-Pass reselling

TransLink says illegal trade in student passes costs $15m a year

Most post-secondary students will have U-Passes by next fall

Craigslist is finally helping stamp out the illegal trade in U-Passes that TransLink says costs it millions of dollars in lost fare revenue each year.

The free classifieds website began deleting ads for the post-secondary student transit passes – which aren’t transferrable and can’t be resold – Thursday morning after Transit Police sent a letter requesting action.

“Most of the ads on Craigslist disappeared quite suddenly,” TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said, adding TransLink had tried for months to get the site to comply.

“It’s a good result.”

An estimated $15 million worth of U-Passes are reported lost or stolen each year and are replaced, but many of the originals show up for sale later on or find their way into the hands of other users.

There are also students who register for college or university, get their pass and then drop out but don’t return it.

A U-Pass is equivalent to a $151 three-zone monthly pass so an SFU student who acquires one for $26 and doesn’t need it can flip it at a hefty profit.

“We’re picking them up on a somewhat regular basis being misused in the system,” Hardie said.

There are currently 80,000 students with U-Passes in Metro Vancouver.

But several more institutions are signing on effective next September at a new standard rate of $30 a month, adding another 60,000 pass holders.

“This time next year we don’t want to be talking about a $20- or $25-million problem,” Hardie said.

It’s hoped institutions and student societies will help police U-Pass use by students over the short term,  he said.

Transit Police also sometimes conduct “buy and bust” stings to nab U-Pass resellers.

Officers approach those selling U-Passes, seize the pass and ticket the seller.

Someone who buys and uses a resold U-Pass can also get a $173 ticket if caught.

Ultimately, TransLink’s move to smart cards is expected to largely eliminate the problem once the new fare payment system arrives in a couple of years.

The same chip in the Compass card will be embedded in student cards from each institution.

Students who can’t give up their student cards that they need on campus wouldn’t therefore be able to sell them as they can now with a separate U-Pass.

As with the coming smart cards, the student cards with Compass technology built in will also have to be scanned as students board the transit system.

“TransLink will have the ability to electronically turn off a card that’s lost, stolen or belongs to a student that has dropped out of school,” Hardie said. “We believe it will be a far more durable solution.”

TransLink hasn’t yet finalized contracts with all the institutions expected to join the U-Pass system by September, but Hardie said that’s expected to happen by late June.

Hardie said TransLink has not considered cancelling the U-Pass program over the pass reselling problem.

Surrey North Delta Leader

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

Comments are closed

Just Posted

QUIZ: Put your knowledge of Canada to the test

How much do you know about our country?

Surrey BIAs to get cash help from city hall

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum announced this on Monday

‘Loophole’ allows U.S.-Canadian citizens to continue to meet at Peace Arch Park

According to immigration lawyer Len Saunders, there’s nothing the province can do about it

Stayte Road housing project rejected by White Rock council in 4-3 vote

Councillors heed residents’ emphatic opposition voiced at electronic public hearing

‘This year is unlike any other’: Trudeau delivers Canada day address

Sophie Gregoire Trudeau and the Prime Minister release video celebrating the national holiday

PHOTOS: Dual rallies take over Legislature lawn on Canada Day

Resist Canada 153 highlighted colonization and genocide, Unify the People called COVID a hoax

Gov. General honours Canadians for bravery, volunteer service

Five categories of winners presented on Canada Day

COVID-19: Should non-medical masks be mandatory in Canada?

New poll shows Canadians are divided on the rules around mandatory masks

Northbound lane of Coquihalla closed after vehicle incident near Hope

A northbound lane is closed just north of the Great Bear Snowshed, according to DriveBC

‘A little bit scary for everybody’: Air passengers wary as new rules take effect

Masks or face coverings have been mandatory on flights since April 20

River centre says heavy rains could bring flooding to central, northeastern B.C.

Water levels are already unusually high and river banks can be extremely unstable

Most Read