City councillors in Richmond, B.C., are calling for an immediate crackdown on SkyTrain fare evaders until turnstiles are installed in the popular transit system, saying the "fare cheats" cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

Citing "shocking" statistics that showed 24,000 people were caught riding the system without paying in 2009 – including 550 unpaid fares on the Canada Line in its first five months of service – Councillor Bill McNulty said the numbers are proof there is a need for more enforcement at transit stations.

"These appalling statistics are just the tip of the iceberg showing those caught during the rare occasion of a Translink fare check -- it's clear we need to fast track turnstiles and dramatically increase fare checks until they are completed."

McNulty, along with fellow councillors Ken Johnston and Derek Dang, say TransLink needs to dramatically increase its fare patrols until the new turnstiles are completed by spring 2013.

The men say it's unfair to Richmond taxpayers that million of dollars in revenue are being lost by delaying the implementation of turnstiles. SkyTrain stations currently work on an honour system, where riders can freely walk onto transit platforms without paying their fare.

The trio says Transit Police have consciously chosen not to enforce random fare checks during the 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. rush time, a move that could net more fare cheats.

A 2008 study by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that there were approximately 4.1 million stolen rides annually leading to revenue losses topping $9.4 million each year.

Richmond First Councillors first publicly called for the installation of fare gates at rapid transit stations since 2006.