Transit police are checking more tickets in a fare evasion crackdown, but issuing fewer fines – a sign that new tougher legislation is working, according to TransLink.

Company spokesman Derek Zabel said ever since the government gave TransLink the power to directly collect on its tickets, regular fare evaders have been ponying up to avoid harsher punishments.

"It's a sign that new legislation is taking effect," said Zabel. "It's fair when everyone pays. When you don't pay it's theft."

TransLink, which estimates fare evasion costs $18 million a year, is now allowed to send unpaid tickets to collections, and flag scofflaws to ICBC. The company has flagged 583 drivers since the legislation came into effect.

New numbers provided to CTV News show that fare checks increased about 32 per cent in the last four months of 2012 compared to the same period in 2011, to roughly 725,000 checks.

During those periods, fare evasion tickets issued went down 11 per cent to about 11,000 tickets issued.

But Translink still has a way to go; that's still 91 fines issued a day.

Transit police took a CTV News crew for a ride along, and we witnessed some of the excuses that riders had for not paying the fare.

A construction worker said he forgot to validate his ticket, while one woman admitted that she wanted to avoid paying.

"I thought I could get home for nothing," she said before walking away.

"Some people are very honest, and some people will try and get a free ride," said Transit Police Const. Simone Doyon. "And that's where they encounter us and we deal with them."

She said the biggest excuse she gets is surprisingly honest: "I just forgot."

All of the people without a ticket were handed a $173 fine.

The sting of losing money will be with one young woman, who gave her name as D'arcy, for some time.

"What they're doing, it works," she told CTV News after she was handed a ticket. "I'm going to pay for my ticket now."