08/31/2012 10:04 EDT | Updated 10/31/2012 05:12 EDT

TransLink Fare Evaders To Face Harsher Penalties

B.C. Transit Police plan to start cracking down harder on fare evaders starting Tuesday, as new legislation comes into effect giving TransLink the power to enforce harsher penalties.

The new penalties for failing to buy a fare include the standard $173 fine, but now it will escalate to $213 if it’s still unpaid after six months. If the fine isn't paid after one year, it rises to $273.

TransLink also has been given the power to bring in a collection agency to chase down those who don’t pay fines, and ICBC can refuse to renew a delinquent offender’s driver's licence or auto insurance.

With the new powers coming into effect, Transit Police will be publicizing where they'll be handing out tickets, says spokesperson Anne Drennan. "At the locations we broadcast, you'll see groups of officers who will be targeting fare evaders, but that doesn't mean there won't officers all along the line, because we do deploy our members all across the line," Drennan said.

The SkyTrain stations with historically the highest number of fare evaders include Metrotown, Broadway at Commercial, and all three stations in Surrey.

Translink says it's spending at least $1.5 million to put the new plan in place, but it's to prevent much higher losses in revenue due to fare evasion.

"Historically, last year's numbers are $18 million. That's a lot of taxpayer money for all of us,” said TransLink spokesman Doug Kelsey. “So what we will ultimately collect, we're hoping for several million dollars a year."

Fare gates are the next step in TransLink's plan in preventing people from getting on the system without tickets. The gates are scheduled to be installed by next year.