TransLink fare evasion fines still going unpaid

23 per cent payment rate eight months into tougher system

Plenty of transit fare evaders who get caught and ticketed are still refusing to pay their fines, despite the introduction of a beefed-up enforcement system eight months ago.

As of April 30, 21,444 transit riders have been given $173 fines for failing to pay the full fare and about 5,000 of them or 23 per cent have paid their ticket.

TransLink spokesman Derek Zabel said nearly 8,000 tickets, or 37 per cent, have now been sent to collection agencies.

Another 1,463 or seven per cent have been forwarded to ICBC so driver’s licence or insurance renewals can be denied until the fines to TransLink are paid.

He said nine per cent of tickets are disputed and no action has been taken on close to a quarter of the tickets issued, because they’re still within the 90 days allowed for payment.

Zabel noted the rate of tickets being paid is up somewhat, from 16 per cent in past years and 20 per cent as of the end of February, but added it may be still too soon to draw conclusions.

The provincial government last year gave TransLink new powers to enforce payment of unpaid fare evasion tickets. For years TransLink had been toothless, with no real way to make cheaters pay tickets.

Fare evasion fines now go up $40 if they’re not paid within six months and they go up $100 if unpaid after a year.

Transit Police have said they are checking more passengers but catching fewer fare evaders, suggesting more people are paying fares to ride SkyTrain in the first place, rather than cheating.