TransLink drivers don't pay for running red lights: probe
Published Monday, February 11, 2013 5:28PM PST
Last Updated Monday, February 11, 2013 7:39PM PST
Metro Vancouver bus drivers have racked up thousands of dollars in fines for running red lights – but they don’t have to pay them.
Hundreds of tickets issued to TransLink are ignored because the transportation authority's lawyers appealed a traffic ticket years ago, and it's now allowed to substitute a written warning and a day of training for the usual $167 fine.
“It’s not about the money, it’s about intersection safety and preventative measures,” said TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel. “We need to do our due diligence and train the operator to mitigate these mistakes and stop them from happening again.”
Any other agency with a fleet of vehicles could apply for the same treatment under section 83.1 of the Motor Vehicle Act, he said.
But other agencies with professional drivers contacted by CTV News, including Black Top Cab, BC Transit, and the Transit Police, ask their drivers to pay.
“We’re responsible for our actions, and if an officer does not have a lawful excuse for breaking those traffic laws they have to pay the price,” said Transit Police Const. Anne Drennan.
Mohinder Sian of Black Top Cabs said he didn’t think it was a good idea to have drivers avoid paying fines because the drivers wouldn’t be accountable for their actions. He said he had heard of companies paying parking tickets, but not moving violations.
“I think we all know in society running a red light means a big danger for everyone around us. It’s unprofessional and it’s not something we should tolerate,” Sian said. “Right now, on the surface, it sounds like a pretty bad deal for the public.”
When any car runs a red light at an intersection equipped with a traffic camera, the camera records a picture and the vehicle’s license number.
CTV News obtained copies of about 230 tickets issued to TransLink drivers since 2008, each containing pictures of the infractions.
Most of the buses were caught at Burrard St. and Pacific St. A close second was Granville St and 49th Ave.
One of the more notable incidents showed a bus charging through an intersection at King George and 104th Avenue while a BC Ambulance Service vehicle stopped.
Another one taken at Main St. and Hastings St. shows a bus running the red with a pedestrian in the road.
And another bus at Granville and 49th was recorded going through the red light and speeding at 79 kilometres per hour in a 50 zone.
None of the tickets show any collisions, but they can happen. In November, a 10-year-old was struck by a bus that was ticketed for running a red at UBC.
And Vancouver Police are investigating whether a bus ran a red light at Main St. and Terminal St. in September when a woman was struck and killed.
Zabel said TransLink doesn’t tolerate buses running red lights and if a driver is repeatedly caught, discipline could include losing his job.
In 2002 a lawyer for the Greater Vancouver Transportation Authority challenged a ticket in traffic court, arguing that section 83.1 of the Motor Vehicle Act allowed anyone with a fleet of vehicles to avoid paying automatic tickets as long as they had an alternative discipline measure.
While a transcript of the hearing could not be obtained from Robson Square Provincial Court, records show the judge agreed with them. No TransLink bus driver has paid any automated traffic ticket since.
Bus drivers do pay traffic tickets if they are pulled over and personally ticketed.
CTV News contacted Transportation Minister Mary Polak’s office, but her staff recommended we speak to Justice Minister Shirley Bond. Neither minister returned calls for comment.