Monday, April 13, 2009

TransLink to spend $100-million to save $6-million

TransLink, B.C.'s Lower Mainland transportation authority, announceed $100-million in spending to install turnstiles in Skytrain stations to stop fare evasion -- but the fare evasion costs $6-million annually, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report.

"Spending $100 million to save $6 million is just typical of government," said Maureen Bader, BC Director of the CTF. “What’s next, a $50-million study to determine how to save $1-million worth of overtime pay?”

According to an independent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, fare evasion in 2007 averaged 2.5 percent and was decreasing. TransLink's own study showed that the public perceived evasion to be about 23 percent of customers, far higher than actual cheating. In today's TransLink news release, Tom Prendergast is quoted saying "the belief that the system is losing revenue due to fare evasion is very often cited as a reason not to support additional revenue measures needed to sustain and expand the transportation system."

"Mr. Prendergast is using his organization’s inability to communicate properly as justification for new taxes on cars and higher taxes on property and gas to sustain its unaffordable system," said Bader. "This is utterly dishonest and self serving, and it highlights the complete lack of accountability all levels of government are showing to taxpayers."

TransLink said in the past a turnstile system would cost more than the increased revenue it might generate. In addition, the PricewaterhouseCoopers report showed that those who evaded fares were unlikely to be caught under the current system.

"The solution to this problem is to create disincentives to cheat," said Bader. "Higher fines and better enforcement would be more effective and wouldn’t cost taxpayers an additional $100-million."

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