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Olympic transit fare cheats a lower priority

Transit Police for the most part will be on the lookout for bigger threats than fare evaders during the Olympics. - File
Transit Police for the most part will be on the lookout for bigger threats than fare evaders during the Olympics.
— image credit: File

Don't expect Transit Police to hand out many tickets to fare evaders during the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Officers will be hunting for pickpockets, hooligans and potential terrorists more than fare cheats much of the time.

Conducting fare blitzes would only jam up what's already expected to be a heavily congested system.

But authorities maintain that still doesn't mean those who'd rather not pay can jump on SkyTrain and get a free ride during the Games.

Transit Police Sgt. Tom Seaman said officers will check fares during less busy times.

But at crush times, he said, their focus will be ensuring the efficient, safe flow of crowds, in addition to the primary Games priority of security.

"The majority of people using the system have passes anyway," Seaman said. "And those coming to visit for the Games have a transit ticket as part of their [event ticket] purchase."

Past audits have found less than six per cent of SkyTrain users fail to pay the correct fare, despite public perception that many more cheat the ungated system.

Many people seem to board SkyTrain without buying a ticket but in fact have a monthly pass, a transfer from paying on a bus or some other valid fare.

"Most people are honest – it's something that fare check after fare check has proven," added TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie.

He also said police and SkyTrain staff may conduct some fare checks in lineups into or through the stations.

"For those who think they might get away with something, they might be surprised."

The fine for fare evasion is $173 but most of the tickets are never paid.

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