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Transit Police to warn of fare blitzes

Enforcement push against SkyTrain cheating coming in September as TransLink gets broader powers
Transit Police will give public warnings starting in September when they carry out fare enforcement blitzes. The move coincides with changes that give TransLink wider powers to pursue fare scofflaws.

Transit Police will start giving advance warning of where they will set up enforcement blitzes to nab transit fare cheaters.

Spokesperson Anne Drennan said public notice of fare checks through the media, on the web and via Twitter will begin in September as TransLink intensifies its efforts to combat fare cheating and make those who are caught pay their fines.

"We think if we advise people where we're going to be doing our fare checks they will realize we are out there in force and they have to buy their fare tickets or they'll be getting violation tickets," she said.

She said it's a similar tactic to police telling the public locations of speed traps – while it may help violators dodge a ticket the greater publicity increases awareness, hopefully improving compliance.

Drennan also noted the publicized blitzes aren't the only spots fare cheats could be caught.

"Just because certain people might avoid the places where we're particularly ramping up our enforcement doesn't mean they won't be checked at other locations."

New provincial legislation also takes effect in September giving TransLink wider powers to go after violators, most of whom did not pay their $173 fines.

ICBC must now deny licence and vehicle insurance renewals and TransLink will be able to dispatch bill collectors, among other potential methods.

Unpaid fare evasion fines averaged $4 million a year in recent years.

TransLink will also get the paid fine revenue from now on, instead of the province.

There will also be more enforcers able to write tickets on the system.

Until now only Transit Police could issue fines, but that power is now extending to other TransLink security personnel and SkyTrain attendants.

A new fare enforcement blitz that started July 23 saw Transit Police check 10,000 passengers and issue about 100 fare evasion tickets.

Asked if that violation rate – just one per cent – was low, Drennan said rates vary.

"They always find when they go out there are people who have not paid."

Transit Police issue close to 60,000 fare evasion tickets a year.