Councillors Call for Crackdown on Transit Fare Cheats Before Fare Hikes

For Immediate Release

November 24, 2009

RICHMOND – A proposal by Translink to increase transit fares by 10 per cent in the coming year and 40 per cent by 2019 should be abandoned unless there is an accompanying crackdown on fare cheats and a guaranteed installation of fare gates on mass transit lines, Richmond City Councillor Derek Dang, Bill McNulty, and Ken Johnston said today.

“Those that pay their fair share shouldn’t have to pay more until fare cheats are forced to pay themselves,” said Councillor Derek Dang. “Today, our Richmond First Councillors are calling on Translink to follow through and install fare gates on mass transit lines, such as the Canada Line, to prove to riders they are committed to fairness and equality among all riders.”

Translink is currently applying to the B.C. Regional Transportation Commission to increase monthly transit passes and fare saver coupons by 10 per cent on April 1, with further plans to raise fares 40 per cent over the next ten years. This request comes just one year after the release of a PricewaterhouseCoopers report that showed approximately 4.1 million stolen rides annually leading to revenue losses that range from $5.3 million to $9.4 million per year.

“It’s hard to believe that Translink is letting up to $10-million in revenues just pass them by,” said Councillor Bill McNulty. “With Translink in a cash crunch and not ruling out any new sources of revenue, it’s shocking they haven’t more seriously gone after those evading transit fares before hitting those that do pay.”

Last week, Translink police were touting 374,000 checks of passengers fares this year – but has now admitted they have no idea how many of the 11,500 violation tickets distributed were actually paid. At last count as of the end of June 2009, 9,909 tickets were handed out but only 1,423 were paid – a return of 14.3 per cent. According to an investigation by The Province newspaper, this leaves $1.181-million in outstanding fines.

An April 9, 2009 press release from the Government of Canada, BC Government, and Translink said construction of a faregate project would begin in spring 2010, but with that time frame fast approaching, no further information has been released putting this project in jeopardy. Despite clear evidence of fare evasion, Translink has continued to question the necessity for the installation of fare gates at SkyTrain and Canada Line stations.

“It’s clear that Translink is toothless to enforce their own rules and is unable to enforce their own fines,” said Councillor Ken Johnston. “Today we’re asking the public to tell the B.C. Regional Transportation Commission that Translink must commit to install fare gates as promised starting in spring 2010 and stop cheaters before they get a free ride.”
The B.C. Regional Transportation Commission is receiving public feedback on the proposed fare hikes until November 30, 2009. Members of the public can email or send their opinion by Canada Post to Translink Commission, Box 1497, Comox, B.C., V9M 8A2.

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