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The Globe and Mail

B.C.'s TransLink pushing for revenues from transit fines

A SkyTrain car in Vancouver on May 6th, 2009.

Simon Hayter For The Globe and Mail/simon hayter The Globe and Mail

TransLink says it will continue to press the provincial government for the proceeds from transit fines, as the province moves to give transit authorities the ability to enforce the collection of such tickets.

The money collected for transit fines is general revenue for the B.C. government. TransLink CEO Doug Kelsey said he would like that to change.

"We would like to see the revenue directed our way to help offset some of our different costs," Mr. Kelsey said. "Similar to municipalities who collect their own fines, like parking tickets, and get the revenue, I'd like to see the same thing for TransLink."

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He said TransLink has asked the government a number of times to address this issue.

Transportation Minister Blair Lekstrom is not committing to any changes, only saying that the matter has just been brought to his attention and the ministry is going to work on it.

Both of the Liberals' main political opponents said TransLink should receive the funds.

BC Conservative candidate Christine Clarke, running in the Port Moody-Coquitlam by-election, said she believes TransLink should receive the money to reduce the need to raise funds in other ways.

NDP transportation critic Harry Bains said, "The money should stay with TransLink, but there should be accountability for how the money is spent, and that direction should come from the government."

Mr. Kelsey says TransLink spends significant money keeping the system safe and operating efficiently, and there should be numerous options on the table including diverting revenue from transit tickets to TransLink to help manage costs.

Statistics released by the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia showed that only one in 10 tickets issued by TransLink's transit police between Jan. 1 of 2011 to Feb. 29 of this year were actually paid. There is $7.7-million in uncollected fines from those 14 months, according to ICBC.

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Mr. Bains said he was disappointed to hear Mr. Lekstrom say this is the first he has heard of the situation.

"It's unacceptable to transit riders and the public in general that we have laws that aren't being enforced, and for the minister to say today that he didn't know anything about it is a appalling as it gets," Mr. Bains said. "The fact is the previous minister of transportation said four years ago they were looking at ways to collect these fines."

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