In 2013 TransLink recorded 2.76 million bus riders taking trips for free

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      In 2013, TransLink bus drivers turned a blind eye to a lot of fare dodgers—nearly three million, according to documents released today (January 6) by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF).

      Whenever someone walks onto a TransLink bus without paying a fare, the driver is supposed to press a “fare not paid” button. According to statistics obtained by CTF through freedom of information legislation, the exact number of times those buttons were hit in 2013 was 2,762,363.

      TransLink has long instructed its drivers to let fare evaders board without objection out of concern for employees’ safety.

      If every one of those riders had been caught an issued a $173 ticket for fare evasion (admittedly never likely to happen), TransLink could have taken in an extra $477.9 million. If drivers had collected standard $2.75 fares on all those rides (only slightly less far-fetched), the revenue would have totalled $7.6 million.

      TransLink's expenditures for 2013 amounted to $1.41 billion, according to the organization’s annual report for that year.

      The Taxpayers Federation of B.C. is using these figures to bolster its new “No TransLink Tax” campaign. They are arguing that a 0.5 percent increase in the provincial sales tax is not needed when TransLink could instead be spending existing funds more efficiently.

      “TransLink executives have turned a blind eye to millions of fare cheats, causing unnecessary financial grief for honest riders and taxpayers,” said CTF B.C. Director Jordan Bateman quoted in a release.

      Looking at the raw FOI data broken down by bus route, I was more interested in where exactly those 2.76 million fares were evaded.

      With 262,838, the top spot goes to the Number 20: Victoria / Downtown. Its drivers pressed those buttons an average of 720 times every single day.

      Ranking second with 178,842 no-pays was the Number 16: 29th Avenue Station / Arbutus. That’s 490 per day.

      Coming in third is the Number 8: Fraser / Downtown. Its drivers registered 148,264 fares not paid or 406 a day.

      Fourth was the Number 3: Main / Downtown with 141,378 or 387 per day.

      And rounding out the top five was the Number 14: Hastings / UBC. It recorded 129,306 fares not paid, or an average of 354 a day.

      Regular transit riders have probably noticed that three of those buses spend a considerable amount of time along East Hastings Street and that all five of them traverse the Downtown Eastside.

      The routes with the lowest numbers of fare dodgers were the Number 242: Upper Lonsdale / Vancouver, the Number C18: West Mall / UBC Loop, and the Number 227: Lynn Valley Centre / Phibbs Exchange. Those bus’s drivers counted 94, 32, and just 16 no pays, respectively.

      Addressing what’s likely to be the first question asked in the comments section, the 99 B-Line (Commercial-Broadway / UBC) ranked somewhere on the lower end of the middle. In 2013, its drivers pressed their “fare not paid” buttons 24,987 times, or an average of 68 times per day.

      You can download the complete list here.




      Jan 6, 2015 at 8:38pm

      I drive a 99 B-Line. Whenever Transit Security does a fare check, they get multiple evaders. All the officers are busy issuing fines. Most of the ridership on the 99 are people who can afford to pay but choose not to. Also the 106 (Burnaby-New Westminster) is also bad for evasion. Transit Security hits that too. I wish they had more officers to enforce, because 99% of the problems I've had over the years start out with someone who did not pay.


      Jan 6, 2015 at 8:57pm

      Groan, the Straight should really do some journalism rather than just copy and pasting the nonsense from CTF.

      Fortunately 24 did and found that not surprisingly, it is mostly people who likely can't afford fares let alone a $170 tickets.

      So CTF wants to waste resources on harassing poor people instead of stopping real crime like assault and sexual harassment.

      Martin Dunphy

      Jan 6, 2015 at 10:24pm

      Of course, the 99-B (or "99-Free", as the drivers call it) figures will be incomplete because almost all the freebies load on through the rear, unchecked.
      And I personally know bus drivers who never, or almost never, press that button.


      Jan 7, 2015 at 1:39am

      Well ya know...if you use a bus or Skytrain.. and you PAY the fare.. you are still an evader as the fare does NOT cover the cost of running the service except on certain routes during rush hour.

      I pay 17 cents a litre Translink levy on fuel, plus a federal levy on fuel, a Translink levy on property tax, Translink levy on HYDRO, ... and so on.

      DO you commute by car? Right now 20% of your annual fuel bill is going DIRECTLY to Translink. Yep that's 1 dollar in every 5 dollars you spend on fuel whether you ever use a bus or not.

      Fare dodgers on buses? If you use the buse, you're already in the club.

      James Blatchford

      Jan 7, 2015 at 2:10am

      Maybe Jordan could put his investigative skills into revealing who funds the CTF....he's been evading that fair question far too long.

      Snooze Button

      Jan 7, 2015 at 2:30am

      So why vote yes on the transit referendum? You are only subsidizing far more free loaders including grossly overpaid Translink upper management who can ride for free be use their car allowances instead.

      Vote no.


      Jan 7, 2015 at 5:29am

      I'm glad this article at least provides a little context, rather than citing the CTF's numbers completely unchallenged as the CBC did last night. As for the comment above calling even fare payers "fare dodgers", let's remember that everyone's taxes go towards the upkeep of roads, whether you drive or not.


      Jan 7, 2015 at 7:22am

      Translink is not a charity. You ride you pay. I hope someone nails your asses.

      @L Leeman. Don't get me started about how much money I pay for those damn roads you drive on.

      A referendum is a cop out way to run a government.


      Jan 7, 2015 at 7:55am

      It seems to me that many of the problems encountered by Translink could have been avoided with proper planning. I have visited cities that have buses designed with barriers to prevent a passenger from boarding until they've deposited money/inserted their pass. Such a simple solution, and surely more cost efficient than the Compass program.

      Invalid Stats

      Jan 7, 2015 at 8:31am

      They will push the button for people with senior passes who refuse to scan them. Then they sometimes get mouthy. It's a yearly pass, colour coded so that it can be seen as such from a distance. It's valid for one whole year; it's not a faresaver that needs to be "validated."

      In general, every time translink has introduced a new pass, e.g. the UPass, some asshole drivers try to lord it over people and make them scan it. It takes a few months to train them otherwise.

      Any person on welfare who spends his money on transit fares is an idiot. Any person who thinks they should just walk is an idiot. When did BC fill up with nasty idiots?