70 per cent of fare evasion tickets still unpaid
Published Thursday, February 20, 2014 9:30PM PST Last Updated Friday, February 21, 2014 9:40AM PST
Despite TransLink’s best efforts to stop it, millions of dollars in fare evasion continue to plague Metro Vancouver’s transit system.
New numbers released Thursday paint a picture of improvement. The amount of fare evaders paying their fines has risen from 16 to 29 percent but that still leaves more than 70 percent of fare evasion fines left unpaid.
The increase totals approximately $900,000 in additional revenue for the transit system but leaves more than $4M unpaid.
TransLink attributes the increase in fine payment to new legislation brought in by the provincial government in 2012 that allowed ICBC to collect the fines on behalf of TransLink and made fine payment a requirement for B.C. Drivers’ License renewal.
“People are more aware of the fine, it’s $173.” said TransLink spokesperson Jiana Ling. “There’s more patrols on the system. There’s transit staff, transit police, as well as transit security and serious consequences if you don’t pay for your ticket.”
TransLink made approximately 2.4 million fare checks in 2013 and an unpaid ticket could also be sent to a collection agent, according to Ling.
The Compass Card system that includes fare gates at all SkyTrain stations is supposed to cut down on fare evasion but it is still only in beta testing and is expected to be in operation sometime next year.
The NDP opposition’s transportation critic George Heyman questions whether the fare gates will really solve the problem of lost fares, which TransLink estimates amounts to $10 million annually
“The truth is TransLink’s own numbers say that the amount that they will recoup from fare evasion even with fare gates will be very minimal. It will take almost 30 years to repay that investment,” Heyman said.
It’s unclear how much of that theft the Compass Cards are expected to prevent.
Whatever the figure, the transit authority has already revealed it will be paying the Cubic Corporation $12 million annually to operate the Compass Card system.
While frustrating for everyday riders who pay their full fares, many low income earners say they can’t afford the fare.
“If I had the means to, because I'm on disability, I would,” said Aaron Yoxall who has five unpaid tickets amounting to at least $865. “Or if they could get me to pay $30 or $40 a month I'd be more than happy to do that.”
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Jon Woodward