09/07/2012 03:23 EDT | Updated 11/07/2012 05:12 EST

TransLink fare evaders' loophole closed

The B.C. government scrambled Friday to close a loophole that allowed transit fare evaders in Metro Vancouver to grab a free ride without risking a ticket.

Earlier in the morning Transit Police in Metro Vancouver confirmed anyone caught without a ticket who refused to produce identification could not legally be issued a ticket, according to spokeswoman Anne Drennan.

"Some officers are writing tickets as per usual and others are not comfortable at this stage," said Drennan.

Newly appointed Transportation Minister Mary Polak announced she signed an order in council closing the loophole just before 10:30 a.m. PT Friday.

Polak said it may take a few days to take effect, but promised it will be fully in place within a week.

But B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director David Eby cautions would-be fare evaders who to intend to use the loophole that they could still be arrested by police for obstruction of justice if they refuse to identify themselves when police attempt to issue them a ticket.

Transit Police flagged problem in July

The no-ID loophole was an issue under old rules a decade ago, but Drennan says a gap in the government's recent legislation that closed another loophole was to blame this time.

Drennan said police told the government in July about the loophole, and she's pleased it has finally moved to fix the problem.

"We advised the ministry of the fact that we were aware and made suggestions for changes and modifications, but it's up to TransLink and the government to then deal with the issue," she said.

The flawed legislation, which just came into effect earlier this week, transferred power to collect fare evasion fine from ICBC — which admitted it was making no attempts to collect unpaid fines — to TransLink itself.

Polak says the loophole was a oversight on the government's part made during the drafting of a flood of legislation last spring by the government.

Under that new legislation both Transit Police and TransLink security are now able to issue fare evasion tickets.

Tickets start start at $173, but increase to $213 unpaid after six months and to $273 if the fine isn't paid after one year.

TransLink is also now able to send unpaid tickets to collection agencies and ICBC is able to refuse to renew or issue a driver's licence or vehicle registration to those with unpaid fines.