Bus transfer abuse bilking B.C. Transit out of thousands of dollars

Twitter and Facebook users encouraging free rides, says B.C. Transit president
 

Social network giants Facebook and Twitter are being used in the abuse of bus transfers in Greater Victoria, cheating B.C. Transit out of at least $200,000 a year in potential revenue.

The tickets are supposed to be used by riders to catch a connecting bus or a return trip within 90 minutes – not reused or sold.

An eyeglass case full of transfers was recently left behind on a public transit bus, each with a letter of the alphabet, good for travelling on certain days.

“You keep that in your pocket, you never have to hand in those transfers. You could probably travel transit for free for a whole year,” said Manuel Achadinha, B.C. Transit president and chief executive officer. 

Adult fares for B.C. Transit buses in Greater Victoria cost $2.50 and a monthly pass is $82.50.

Some of that lost revenue will come out of taxpayer pockets, part of the reason behind a $28 transit tax increase this year per household in the Capital Regional District.

Transit officials were shocked to learn last fall that Facebook groups and Twitter accounts were being used to spread the word about the transfer letter of the day.

Facebook shut down the first group at B.C. Transit’s request, but that didn’t last long. It now has 30 members. and 14 people follow a similar Twitter page, but membership is not required for either.

“That’s the challenge with social media,” said Achadinha. “It’s very powerful and at times a dangerous tool.”

A disclaimer on the Facebook page says “this is for entertainment only. If you close this group, we’ll just start another one. So … let us be entertained.”

The Twitter account has a similar plug. “What is today’s letter? For those of us who love knowing the bus transfer of the day. Disclaimer: This is intended for purely curiosity’s sake.”

To combat fraud and offset B.C. Transit’s financial straits, the Victoria Regional Transit Commission agreed last week to scale the 90-minute transfer window back to 60 minutes, and restrict its open use to anywhere in Greater Victoria to a one-way trip.

The bus company will soon print new paper tickets that feature anti-fraud colour coding and dates. The changes could come into effect as early as April 1.

“By you frauding the system, all you’re doing is putting the burden onto taxpayers,” Achadinha said.

emccracken@vicnews. com

 

Just Posted

Victoria Beer Week celebrates ‘five years of cheers’

Nine day craft beer festival delves into home brew workshops, food pairings, and a road trip to Sooke

Transit open houses on better Peninsula bus service

SIDNEY — Improved BC Transit services to West Sidney and to the… Continue reading

Victoria Orchid Society hosts 30th annual show

Orchids in full bloom March 3 and 4 at Our Lady of Fatima Hall

Free public lecture timed with scientific meeting in Sidney

Oceanographer Gregory Johnson speaks on the robots that monitor ocean temperature and salinity

Victoria playing host to regional farm market conference

Food industry experts to attend three-day networking event, which is open to the public

The 2018 B.C. Games wrap up in Kamloops

The B.C. Winter Games comes to a close after a weekend of fun and excitment

Naval ship spills 30,000 litres of fuel in the Strait of Georgia

HMCS Calgary spilled fuel east of Nanaimo and Parksville on Saturday

Student Voice: Phones in school a tool for learning or weapon of mass distraction?

Spectrum student questions role of smart phones in school

Library’s French collection gets $15,000 boost

Provincial grant adds extra French-language materials to Greater Victoria Public Library collection

Spectrum to stage Dirty Rotten Scoundrels

Students having fun with laughs in Broadway musical

B.C. boosts support for former youth in government care

More support coming for rent, child care and health care while they go back to school

Saanich skater golden at B.C. Winter Games

Desiree Grubell takes gold, Emily Walzak silver in Special Olympics figure skating.

SMUS stages Catch Me If You Can, the true tale of a con-artist

Musical follows tales of impersonator Frank Abagnale Jr.

B.C. VIEWS: Our not-so-New Democrats don’t rock the boat

Finance Minister Carole James takes the wheel, steers similar course

Most Read