05/07/2012 10:13 EDT | Updated 07/07/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. cracking down on TransLink fare cheats

The B.C. government has moved to crack down harder on TransLink fare cheats, introducing a bill in the legislature that will allow the transit authority to actually collect fines.

Once the bill becomes law, TransLink will be able to collect the $173 penalty by denying evaders the ability to renew their driver’s licence or car insurance until they’ve paid up.

Between January 2011 and February 2012, transit police issued 52,812 fare-evasion tickets, but only 7,540 of those — less than 15 per cent — have been paid.

As a result, $1,304,420 in fines were paid, but $7,709,286 remains outstanding.

Technically, the proposed law also allows the government to apply the new power against anyone who has skipped paying the transit fine anytime during the last 10 years.

It’s estimated, however, that 70 per cent of evaders who are fined don’t hold a driver’s licence, so TransLink will still have to use the courts and collection agencies to try to collect the penalties from them.

TransLink admitted in March that it had no real clout to collect the fines.

The government said in a release Monday that the new regulations should be in place by summer.