Passengers boarding buses won't be under any new pressure from bus drivers to pay fares once new Compass cards roll out. The union says driver assaults are up and remain a concern.

TransLink bus drivers won’t push riders to pay fares

Compass cards have union wary of conflict, assault risk from fare-evading passengers

Unionized bus drivers say they won’t be pressured into helping enforce fare payment by passengers when new Compass smart cards roll out.

TransLink had asked drivers to “actively interact” with passengers to inform them about how to pay and that they could face fare evasion fines if they refuse.

Nathan Woods, president of the union representing drivers, says the proposed training program would have put drivers in the “precarious position” of being at greater risk of assault due to conflict with fare evaders.

“We’re not going to stop them,” he said. “The passengers don’t want fights on their bus and neither do we.”

Woods said drivers will still answer passengers’ questions about fare payment and “meet and greet” as usual, but they won’t apply any new pressure to comply.

It’s up to Transit Police and Coast Mountain Bus security staff to patrol for fare evaders, he said.

The launch of the Compass card system in the new year will bring challenges for bus drivers.

Under the new system, people who pay cash will no longer get a valid transfer to  SkyTrain.

Woods predicts more passengers will then refuse to pay as they board buses to avoid being double charged – or to at least claim that’s what they’re doing.

“I think fewer people are going to pay cash fares on the bus and they’re simply going to walk by us and say ‘I’m paying at the SkyTrain.'”

Bus drivers can push a button to record when someone boards without paying. If a pattern is detected of a fare evader boarding at the same place consistently, Transit Police could respond.

Despite the attention fare evasion gets, Woods said he doesn’t think it’s a large problem on buses now and faregates should reduce the problem on SkyTrain.

“On the buses, there are going to be people who are going to scam the system eiither way,” he added.

One expected scam is where people board a bus and soon tap out with their card at the back door so they pay one zone but ride further for free.

Woods noted only a small number of bus routes actually cross a zone boundary so it won’t be a big issue.

The main concern for the union remains attacks on bus drivers.

There have been 115 assaults so far this year, up more than 10 per cent from a year ago.

Woods predicts that statistic would worsen if drivers took a more confrontational stance.

He suggested assaults may be up because TransLink efforts to wring more revenue out of the bus system are leading to more overcrowding and more passups by full buses, frustrating passengers.

Driver assaults include acts like spitting, verbal threats and splashing drinks.

TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said drivers are expected to observe as passengers tap in with their cards and assist those who have difficulty.

He said the request to the union was mainly to have drivers provide “options from a customer service perspective” while also reminding riders non-payment is punishable by a fine.

Just Posted

18 months conditional term for indecent caller

Incidents reported in Surrey, White Rock and Langley

Delta mosque holds silent prayer vigil for Christchurch victims

Event emphasized the importance of acceptance, solidarity in the wake of the attack on Muslim worshippers

White Rock Mexican restaurant told to remove flag from patio

‘I’ve never heard of anything like this in my life,’ Primo’s Mexican Grill general manager said

White Rock water plant operational by month’s end

Utilities manager’s talk to Peace Arch Rotary also covers global water issues

A Surrey Mountie’s tale of reconciling her family’s history with the LGBTQ+ ‘purge’

PART TWO: Cpl. Sturko is spokeswoman of Surrey RCMP after her great uncle was ‘purged’ from the RCMP

VIDEO: The ‘most cosmopolitan’ of butterflies could migrate to B.C.

The painted lady butterfly will likely arrive this summer from Southern California

Pedestrian killed, two injured in three-vehicle crash in Coquitlam

Road closures in effect following collision

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

B.C. river cleanup crew finds bag of discarded sex toys

Chilliwack volunteers stumble on unexpected find while removing 600 lbs of trash from riverway

Trudeau sells housing plan in visit to hot real estate market in B.C.

Trudeau said the budget contains measures to help first-time buyers

Most Read

l -->