Craigslist clamps down on transit U-Pass reselling

TransLink says illegal trade in student passes costs $15m a year

Most post-secondary students will have U-Passes by next fall

Craigslist is finally helping stamp out the illegal trade in U-Passes that TransLink says costs it millions of dollars in lost fare revenue each year.

The free classifieds website began deleting ads for the post-secondary student transit passes – which aren’t transferrable and can’t be resold – Thursday morning after Transit Police sent a letter requesting action.

“Most of the ads on Craigslist disappeared quite suddenly,” TransLink spokesman Ken Hardie said, adding TransLink had tried for months to get the site to comply.

“It’s a good result.”

An estimated $15 million worth of U-Passes are reported lost or stolen each year and are replaced, but many of the originals show up for sale later on or find their way into the hands of other users.

There are also students who register for college or university, get their pass and then drop out but don’t return it.

A U-Pass is equivalent to a $151 three-zone monthly pass so an SFU student who acquires one for $26 and doesn’t need it can flip it at a hefty profit.

“We’re picking them up on a somewhat regular basis being misused in the system,” Hardie said.

There are currently 80,000 students with U-Passes in Metro Vancouver.

But several more institutions are signing on effective next September at a new standard rate of $30 a month, adding another 60,000 pass holders.

“This time next year we don’t want to be talking about a $20- or $25-million problem,” Hardie said.

It’s hoped institutions and student societies will help police U-Pass use by students over the short term,  he said.

Transit Police also sometimes conduct “buy and bust” stings to nab U-Pass resellers.

Officers approach those selling U-Passes, seize the pass and ticket the seller.

Someone who buys and uses a resold U-Pass can also get a $173 ticket if caught.

Ultimately, TransLink’s move to smart cards is expected to largely eliminate the problem once the new fare payment system arrives in a couple of years.

The same chip in the Compass card will be embedded in student cards from each institution.

Students who can’t give up their student cards that they need on campus wouldn’t therefore be able to sell them as they can now with a separate U-Pass.

As with the coming smart cards, the student cards with Compass technology built in will also have to be scanned as students board the transit system.

“TransLink will have the ability to electronically turn off a card that’s lost, stolen or belongs to a student that has dropped out of school,” Hardie said. “We believe it will be a far more durable solution.”

TransLink hasn’t yet finalized contracts with all the institutions expected to join the U-Pass system by September, but Hardie said that’s expected to happen by late June.

Hardie said TransLink has not considered cancelling the U-Pass program over the pass reselling problem.

Just Posted

Garage sale brings out some unusual characters such as Langley’s Holly Zonneveld

Surrey Little Theatre presents a hilarious gaggle of characters in its new play.

Four years for manslaughter in Surrey drive-by shooting

Mahdi Halane was rendered a quadriplegic until his death in hospital six years later at age 24.

Author at Surrey event glad to have book published ‘before reality totally overtakes fiction’

Ari Goelman, a business and criminology instructor, speaks at KPU Reads gathering Jan. 22

Cloverdale banker shares his love of swing dancing

Cloverdale’s Phillip Kunz shows dancing newcomers how to get into the swing of things

White Rock cannabis and adult entertainment bylaws to move to public hearings

Council will seek input on potential of allowing contentious businesses in city limits

VIDEO: Orcas put on a show near Hornby Island

Louis Jobodin shares photos and video of his experience

Body discovered in burnt out car near Trail

Police report a body was found in the burnt out trunk of a 1999 Honda Civic

VIDEO: B.C. Lions sign defensive back T.J. Lee to contract for upcoming season

The four-year veteran had a team-high four interceptions and 49 tackles last season with B.C.

How an immigrant to Canada helped Donald Trump prove his mental health

Test that cleared Trump was developed by doctor associated with McGill and Sherbrooke universities

Premier touches on multiple topics ahead of Asia trade trip

Housing and childcare are expected to be the focus of the BC NDP’s first budget in February.

UPDATE: Friends mourn boy, 15, killed in Vancouver shooting

John Horgan: ‘No stone is to be left unturned until we find the perpetrator of this heinous crime’

VIDEO: Explorers uncover Canada’s deepest cave in Fernie

The cave, named Bisaro Anima, was confirmed to have broken the record on New Year’s Day

Vernon to host largest Special Olympics B.C. Winter Games in 2019

Games to be held Feb. 21-23, with more than 800 athletes expected to take part

Ex-BC Liberal staffer focused on ‘favourable’ ethnic communities in scandal: lawyer

Former communications director Brian Bonney’s sentencing hearing for breach of trust is underway

Most Read