A Transit Police officer weighs whether to give two men caught on SkyTrain without a valid fare tickets or warnings in this 2006 photo. Officers arrest at least 500 suspects wanted on outstanding warrants each year by running names of fare evaders against police databases.

Province plugs loophole that handcuffed transit cops

Officers would have lost ability to catch wanted criminals because they couldn't demand ID from fare evaders

A promised tough crackdown on TransLink fare evaders got off to a shaky start last week when some Transit Police officers refused to issue tickets because they hadn’t been empowered to demand identification from violators.

The problem was an oversight in the legislation passed this spring that gave TransLink new ticket enforcement powers.

The provincial government quickly moved to plug the loophole through a cabinet order Friday and all officers were expected to be issuing tickets as intended by Monday afternoon.

Spokesperson Anne Drennan said most officers did continue to ticket fare evaders – provided they voluntarily identified themselves – but a minority weren’t comfortable with the process and were put on other duties, such as high-visibility fare checks at entrances to fare-paid zones.

“It wasn’t a work-to-rule situation at all,” Drennan said. “They felt strongly about it. But they were out there working and doing everything they could through a different approach.”

In the past, fare evaders who refused to identify themselves when caught could be arrested for obstruction, but the new rules initially failed to include the power to demand ID.Transit Police make arrest of man wanted on outstanding warrant in a downtown Vancouvder SkyTrain station.

To Transit Police, the issue was much bigger than just busting fare cheaters.

Officers catch about 500 accused criminals each year who are wanted by other jurisdictions on arrest warrants – everything from breach of probation to armed robbery – by conducting fare checks and then running violators’ names through police databases.

But without an ability to demand names and arrest those who don’t comply, a huge hole opened in what had been a useful anti-crime net.

“It impaired our ability to do that almost completely,” Drennan said.

Without the quick revision of the regulation, officers would have had to merely escort violators off TransLink property, knowing that some might be dangerous criminals they would normally bring to justice.

The rule change required Transit Police officers use new procedures in demanding fare evaders identify themselves and training is being conducted at the start of each new shift.

Fare evasion fines still start at $173 but they will now climb to $213 after six months and $273 if unpaid after a year.

ICBC will now refuse to issue or renew licences or insurance for violators who don’t pay and TransLink will also have other options, such as sending unpaid fines to a collection agency.

In past years, most fare evaders never paid their tickets because there was no enforcement mechanism with teeth.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

VIDEO: Record turnout for third annual Langley car show against cancer

Brogan’s Diner Fight Against Cancer Car Show was turned into a road trip because of COVID-19

Langley artist Lalita Hamill launches new website to showcase art and share instructional videos

A Zoom session on Saturday, July 18, will serve as a free art assessment and critique at 10 a.m.

Provincial COVID-19 data can now be used for B.C. to prepare for a second wave

In the past week, B.C. has seen a slight spike in daily test-positive case counts

Vandals deface Aldergrove elementary school with racist slur, male genitalia

Langley School District confirms it has filed a report with the Langley RCMP

‘Our hands are tied’: Langley Good Times Cruise-In announces cancellation due to COVID-19

People are encouraged to donate to the chosen Langley charities online, said Cruise-In director

Islanders want BC Ferries to follow order that lets residents board before tourists

For ferry-dependent communities, ferries are often the sole practical lifeline to work, school or medical appointments.

Fraser Valley loses the Keith Wilson Waver as Ron Hupper passes away

Hupper brought smiles to the faces of hundreds of people traveling Chilliwack’s Keith Wilson Road

Beverly Hills 90210 star’s family selling Vancouver Island Beach Resort

You can own Jason Priestley’s Terrace Beach Resort in Ucluelet for less than $5 million

Genetic detectives begin work to trace spread of COVID-19 in Canada

The kinds of genetic technology being used for this project did not exist when SARS hit Canada in 2003

Sports fishers protest Fraser River Chinook closures

Public Fishery Alliance wants hatchery fish open for harvest

Woman sexually assaulted, robbed near Surrey SkyTrain station: RCMP

Police say the incident happened July 10, just after 11 p.m. near King George SkyTrain station

B.C. Ferries increasing passenger capacity after COVID-19 restrictions

Transport Canada 50-per-cent limit being phased out, no current plans to provide masks

Once-in-a-lifetime comet photographed soaring over Abbotsford

Photographer Randy Small captures Comet NEOWISE in early-morning sky

Most Read