The Fare Evasion Fiasco – Why Spend $171 million to save $4.38 million Annually?
The real story of course is that Premier Campbell’s political crony, Ken Dobell, acted as a lobbyist for Cubit Industries who are putting in the turnstiles at SkyTrain stations. In what amounts to massive overkill, a $171 million turnstile system with about $15 million annual operating costs, toÂ deter an approximatelyÂ $4.38 annual loss due to fare evasion. ThisÂ is shear lunacy. What many people do not realize, a good portion of fare evasion is ‘soft’ ridership orÂ transit users who probably will not useÂ bus or SkyTrainÂ if they have to pay!
This time is is not TransLink’s fault, but the Premier’s, who once again rewards his political friends with taxpayer’s hard earned moneyÂ by forcing TransLink to install the turnstile system. BC Transit then and now TransLink, have never really understood fare protection and if we had a ‘conductor’ on every train, checking both fares and seeing to the good operation of the metro, would have solved the ‘fare’ evasion problem years ago and without the need of creatingÂ the presentÂ expensive transit police force.
The combined cost of the Transit Police and the SkyTrain attendants would have easily paid for ‘conductors‘ and the $171 million for turnstiles could have been better spent on improving the transit system or, heavens forbid, reduce the cost of a ticket!
Fare evasion on buses amounts to $4.38m, TransLink driver figures
By Frank Luba, The Province
Fare evasion on TransLink buses amounts to $4.38 million annually, a bus driver estimates.
Thatâ€™s almost $2 million more than previous studies have found.
The driver, who didnâ€™t want to be identified, made his calculations based on TransLink statistics posted in his garage that indicated there were 146,000 evasions in October 2009. Multiplying 146,000 by an average fare of $2.50 gave him a monthly cheating total of $365,000 or annual losses of $4.38 million.
Each bus now comes equipped with a button on its touch-screen console that drivers are supposed to push when someone fails to pay or upgrade their fare, allowing for better data collection on fare evaders.
When PricewaterhouseCoopers did its fare-evasion study for TransLink in 2007, it said there were more cheaters on buses, 1,871,899, but the loss was only $2,676,816 because the company estimated the average loss per ride was $1.43.
TransLink spokesman Drew Snider confirmed the existence of the fare-evasion button Monday, but didnâ€™t have any information about the evasion figures presented by the operator. He said that nobody from Coast Mountain was available for an interview Monday.
He said the evasion rates needed to be put into â€œperspective.â€
â€œBuses carry 800,000 people a day,â€ said Snider. â€œYeah, it [146,000 cheaters a month] sounds like a lot until you realize how many people we carry.â€
Driver Darryl Van Ochten confirmed he uses the button. He wasnâ€™t the driver who made the calculations.
â€œYes, unfortunately I use it a lot,â€ said Van Ochten, who said heâ€™s seen the number of people cheating on their fares increasing over the two years heâ€™s been driving.
Van Ochten transferred out of Vancouver to Burnaby to avoid the hassles of dealing with cheaters.
In 2008, transit police issued 14,400 tickets, but 11,300 went unpaid for a loss of $1.95 million.
PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated fare-evasion loses on SkyTrain at $3.4 million per year.
TransLink had to raise an extra $130 million this year to maintain service at current levels.
TransLink is paying $100 million of the $171-million cost of putting in turnstiles to combat SkyTrain fare evasion.