Despite fare gates coming to SkyTrain stations in the near future, Metro Vancouver’s transit police are asking for a hefty wage hike after going without a contract for more than two years.

The union representing officers is calling for five-and-a-half per cent in retroactive pay for the two years they went without a contract, and an additional six per cent raise, all over the next two years.

The request comes at a time when TransLink is struggling to balance its books and asking taxpayers for even more money.

“At the end of the day, the people that are providing the services, the people that are making our system safe should not have to be punished for the dysfunction at TransLink, or the fact politicians can’t get their act together,” said Cope 378 President David Black.

Transit police are tasked with patrolling SkyTrains and buses for fare evaders and occasionally investigating more serious crimes – and officers say they’re being underpaid for both.

“What they’re looking for is wage increases that’re comparable to what other police officers have received in the last few years,” Black said, adding outside policing agencies have reported transit officers have reduced crime on the system by more than 13 per cent.

Officers currently make a minimum of $75,000 a year and more than one-third of officers earn in excess of $100,000 a year.

Critics say that’s already too much.

“Transit police aren’t worth this raise,” said Canadian Taxpayer Federation spokesman Jordan Bateman. “At a time where TransLink is claiming to be cash-strapped…to come in and ask for a big raise now is completely tone deaf.”

He claimed two-thirds of officer’s files are fare checks – and with the introduction of fare gates at SkyTrain stations this year, that workload will decrease.

“That’s not high-level, high-end policing that we should be spending six figures per cop on,” Bateman said.

Whether transit police will get the raise remains to be seen, as negotations between the union and TransLink will take place behind closed doors.