Transit police don’t like it when you tweet about fare checks

On my way to work this morning, Metro Vancouver Transit Police officers interrupted my bus ride with a fare check.

Luckily, I had my monthly pass on me, and no one on the bus received a $173 ticket for an unpaid fare. Naturally, I tweeted about the fare check after the bus got rolling again.

A few hours later, I received a couple of direct messages from Const. Graham Walker, whose Twitter profile identifies him as a community relations and patrol officer with the transit police. As you can see, Walker took issue with my tweet:

Hi Stephen. Not sure why you would want to tell people where we are checking fares. First off, it's not okay to ride for free, we all 1/2

2/2 know about funding, etc. Plus, we remove hundreds of criminals from the system each year after finding them without fare.

Clearly, Walker was attempting to impress upon me the importance of not publicizing the locations of fare checks. However, I'm not convinced.

Ostensibly, the reason for fare checks is more about making people pay—whether or not they can afford it—before getting on transit than it is about punishing those who don't (and are demonized as "fare evaders").

And what's the worst that could happen after tweeting about a fare check? Someone might buy a fare.

So, from now on, I'll be tweeting about every fare check I encounter on the TransLink system.

Should people tweet the locations of transit fare checks?

Yes 79%
1152 votes
No 21%
301 votes
Comments (84) Add New Comment
Aaron T.
what's the worst that could happen? A lot. I agree with you about fare checks often just making people pay, but you've gotta see both sides of the story.

This is identical to publicizing where drunk driving stops are. Some drunken asshole is driving, his friend in the car sees a tweet and they manage to take a different street to avoid getting caught.

Another question to ask would be 'What did you gain by publicizing a fare check or where a drunk stop was?' Did that random tweet cause 200 other transit passengers that haven't paid to go 'Oh damn, I'd better go pay my fare right now.' 99.9% of all social media posts, it didn't gain you anything.
Rating: -159
OR, and hear me out, if people aren't going to pay, they'll take a different route or wait a little longer for the Transit Police to move on. You're essentially helping criminals by doing that.
It's like people who warm of Police road checks. It doesn't get drunk people off the road, it just warns them to take a different route.
Fare-evading and drunk driving are not at all the same thing. Just same idea.
Rating: -99
Yup! Love how they stand at the top of escalators and trap people too. Why not place them at the bottom and act as a deterrent for fare evasion? Guess they have some sort of stupid quota they have to meet.
Rating: +133
Just FYI
Not paying your fare is not a criminal offense. So: people who don't pay their fares aren't criminals, and tweeting about fare checks is not "helping criminals."
Rating: +142
"This is identical to publicizing where drunk driving stops are."

Rating: +107
Fare checks are not about encouraging people to pay fares, they are about generating revenue to fund the insane salaries (Many earn well over $100K/yr) or the transit police. $173 for a ticket is a not a reasonable punishment commensurate to the crime. There is no way not paying a fare does $173 dollars in damage to society and the amount ticketed is much higher than for the same offence elsewhere in the world. Not only that but Translink has rigged the system now so that there is literally ZERO mechanism via which a person can dispute the amount of the ticket. If used to be you could argue extenuating circumstances and have the ticket reduced to a reasonable amount. Now if you want to do that you are faced with potentially having to pay Translink's legal fees if you lose which could be thousands of dollars.

There are also numerous traffic offences that could potentially result in people dying that carry lesser fares. But the cops that write those tickets don't have to rely on special funding to pay their salaries.

Transit cops are a racket. Plain and simple.
Rating: +116
If the transit cops are genuinely interested in preventing fare fraud then I don't see why they'd have a problem, if, on the other hand, they're focused on writing tickets and issuing fines then I can see why it would piss them off. Keep on tweeting Pls :)
Rating: +83
Exactly! I'm not going to cancel my journey just because of fare checking. I'll just 100% pay for a ticket! You're making then honest money by tweeting (oh wait, $2.50 instead of a $173 overpriced fine, I see what you're doing there Transit)
Rating: +41
i hope you keep tweeting. the transit police are there to catch criminals but these fare evaders aren't criminals - they are almost entirely people who can't afford the bus fares, which is more about the costs being too high than them not being willing to pay. the 'payers' who feel somehow victimized should think how they would feel in the same boat, with half their incomes, etc.
Rating: +26
Ken Decker
1. Public Transit should be free of charge.

2. Eliminate specific police force for transit system. Let local police deal with it as they do traffic and other public problems.
Rating: +56
Thanks Stephen! Keep tweeting!
Rating: +11
Tweeting about fare/drunk driving/speed/seatbelt/HOV checks is fine. The police actually send some of that info to radio stations and other media to relay to the public because it sends the message that they're out there and you could get caught.

Once you hear how often they're out, and that they do in fact hit every single major route, you're going to think twice about doing it.
Rating: +23
Provincial police...... They never changed..... There's a reason we got rid of them before. The board and The players changed but not much else has.
Rating: -4
Eric Doherty
It is not like it is safety related like speed traps or checks for impaired driving. And we just don't know what the net effect would be on fare revenue, unless someone has done a good peer-reviewed study. I don't really care either way about the tweets - I'm just glad some journalists ride transit!
Rating: +17
So far, no one has brought up the other half of fare tickets: the cops get to run your name, checking for any outstanding bench warrants or your immigration status.

So this...

"Plus, we remove hundreds of criminals from the system each year after finding them without fare." not just about people not paying fares. It's also about catching homeless people who can't pay their jaywalking/urinating/spitting/street vending tickets, or undocumented immigrants hoping not to be deported back to a horrible country. People whom the police so lovingly and caringly throw under the label "criminal", as though trying to get money for food or crossing imaginary lines somehow makes you equal to an armed robber or murderer or something.
Rating: +62
Aaron T.
In a stunning turn of social media events, all the thumbs up are going to the comments talking about how 'awful' and 'terrible' the transit police are, while the differing opinions get the opposite.

And in other shocking news....
Rating: -30
Alan Layton
If you don't pay your fare then you are just a parasite. End of story. Tweeters who reveal where fares are being checked are immature morons.
Rating: -67
Rick in Richmond
Fare evaders (that's what they are) cost the system hundreds of thousands every year. The worst of them demand a ride for which they simply refuse to pay.

What would happen if they tried to demand a free plane ride to Toronto? A free ferry ride to Gabriola? They would be laughed out of court.

Evading fares on Translink is no different from evading fares on any other system. It is theft from the people who own these systems -- and that's us. All of us.

If we (the owners) wish to provide free fares to the poor, that's great. Such systems are already in place, and widely available.

If the fare evaders (thieves) can't be bothered to apply for free or subsidized travel passes, that's on them.

Would Stephen Hui warn a shoplifter that the owner of a grocery store was coming up behind him?

Rating: -17
Jon Q. Publik
So the same people who want free transit are against gentrification and condos? You do realize that you can't have it both ways right?

I am sorry but since we don't live in an urban utopia I see no problem with fare checks or the fines attached to them. Its at minimum $2.75 to take the bus, oh wait you can't afford that, well then you have two legs enjoy walking.

Hard to judge actual impact of a fare check tweet though?
Rating: -33
I suspect that the people reading tweets about fare checks on their smartphone are not the same people who can't afford the bus fare.
Rating: +68


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