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

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      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.


      We're now using Facebook for comments.


      Aaron T.

      Jul 4, 2014 at 1:48pm

      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.


      Jul 4, 2014 at 1:57pm

      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.


      Jul 4, 2014 at 1:58pm

      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.

      Just FYI

      Jul 4, 2014 at 2:05pm

      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."


      Jul 4, 2014 at 2:06pm

      "This is identical to publicizing where drunk driving stops are."



      Jul 4, 2014 at 2:07pm

      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.


      Jul 4, 2014 at 2:09pm

      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 :)


      Jul 4, 2014 at 2:16pm

      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)


      Jul 4, 2014 at 2:19pm

      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.

      Ken Decker

      Jul 4, 2014 at 2:25pm

      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.