03/10/2015 01:20 EDT | Updated 05/10/2015 05:59 EDT

TransLink bus 'fare not paid' button pushed nearly 3 million times in 2014

Bus drivers in Metro Vancouver pushed the "fare not paid" button 2,950,944 times in 2014, up 6.8 per cent from the year before, according to numbers released by TransLink.

Drivers push the button at their discretion whenever there is a "fare-related concern," including not paying the fare, under- or over-paying, or failing to provide proper ID, said TransLink in a statement.

It's not clear whether a higher percentage of bus riders did not pay last year.

In 2013, drivers reported a "fare-related concern" in 1.1 per cent of all 294-million bus rides taken that year.

In 2014, when the "fare not paid" rate went up, ridership was also expected to go up, but ridership numbers are not yet available for last year.

TransLink spokeswoman Cheryl Ziola noted some of the people not paying fares don't have the ability to pay, and are helped by the drivers.

"Many of the routes with the highest 'fare not paid' numbers travel through the Downtown Eastside, one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods," wrote Ziola in a statement provided to CBC.

"Bus operators use their discretion and can determine if someone is in trouble or in need, when deciding whether to pursue a non-paying customer."