Too many free bus rides

A recent editorial (“A radical tax proposal,” Aug. 23) details the need to “find new funding for TransLink for much needed transit expansion without inflicting too much pain on already heavily taxed residents and motorists.”

Increasing the property taxes of wealthier, out-of-province owners is one way of adding revenue, as is installing gates and turnstiles to stop fare evaders from riding the SkyTrain.

However, there is another factor contributing to the budget shortfall of TransLink. I have a U-pass, so I ride the bus almost every day and I constantly witness bus drivers allowing people to get on without paying.

It happens without fail every time I’m on the bus. Sometimes, the bus driver leaves the door open at the bus station while he goes to get a cup of coffee. On other occasions, drivers don’t even bother to check for transfers as people board the bus. Instead of looking at the people getting on, they simply face the other way or peruse their newspapers.

On some occasions, the drivers do “check” for transfers but it’s really just for show. If someone gets on and says, “I don’t have any money, is it okay?” the driver, as I witnessed one do a few days ago, will simply look away saying “whatever, I don’t care,” and let them ride for free. Obviously, it’s infuriating whenever I see the driver let freeloaders ride the bus. This kind of behaviour is not unlike a cashier allowing people to go through a checkout without paying for their merchandise.

I understand that drivers are trying to avoid possible altercations. Many drivers are assaulted every year, and TransLink does little if anything to protect them.

Regardless, the drivers are paid to do a job and they ought to do the job right. If they don’t like their jobs, they can find a new one. There is no excuse for allowing freeloading parasites to ride for free while responsible riders pay the fare. It is completely unfair that responsible people must shoulder the burden of funding transit as well as making up for budget shortfalls through taxes and fare hikes.

Increase taxes on the wealthy if you must, but please crack down on irresponsible bus drivers who allow fare evaders onto the buses.

Oh, and in case any of these drivers happen to read this letter, let me ask them something. If you don’t think it’s important for people to pay for using transit, where do you expect the money to come from to pay your salaries?

Mohammed Sahib, Surrey

Surrey North Delta Leader

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