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More than 2.7 million bus fares went unpaid in B.C. in 2013

VANCOUVER – More than 2.7 million bus fares were not paid in B.C. in 2013, according to documents obtained by the Canadian Tax Federation (CTF).

TransLink bus drivers press a ‘fare not paid’ button when someone gets on the bus and refuses to pay. Through a Freedom of Information request, the CTF  released the documents on Tuesday as part of the No TransLink Tax campaign.

“These bus drivers should be checked for carpal tunnel syndrome from having to repeatedly push that fare evasion button,” said spokesperson and CTF B.C. director Jordan Bateman. “TransLink executives have turned a blind eye to millions of fare cheats, causing unnecessary financial grief for honest riders and taxpayers.”

Bus drivers do not actively engage with passengers when they refuse to pay their fare, in order to avoid potentially violent confrontations. The ticket for a fare infraction is $173. TransLink bus drivers have said in the past they have stopped pushing the button as little has been done to punish those who do not pay their fare.

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Port Coquitlam Mayor Greg Moore says the number of registered fare evasions is relatively small compared to the estimated 249 million boardings per year on the transit system.

“When you put it in the overall picture, it actually is a very, very small percentage,” says Moore.

WATCH: NDP Transit critic George Heyman talks to BC1 about fare evasion

However, the more than 2.7 million fare evasions on the bus do not include those on the SkyTrain, West Coast Express, SeaBus, or the West Vancouver blue bus network.

“If only TransLink had managed the Compass card and fare gate rollout properly, we’d have a better system to measure and prevent fare evasion,” said Bateman. “Instead, thanks to TransLink’s incompetence, Compass is three years late and at least $25 million over budget. There have been open fare gates sitting at SkyTrain stations for two-and-a-half years already – while cheats keep riding for free.”

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The No TransLink Tax campaign is fighting for a NO vote in this spring’s TransLink plebiscite.

“TransLink can’t properly manage the system they already have – they certainly can’t be trusted with another $7.5 billion of our money,” said Bateman. “Fare evasion and poor management of Compass cards are just two more reasons why people should vote no.”

To see the FOIP documents, click HERE.