U-Pass fraud occurring online
Some students are selling their U-Passes to willing buyers who aren't students
Reported by Kristian Trevena
TransLink’s transition to the Compass Card system hasn’t stopped Langara students from trying to sell their U-Passes on a Facebook group dedicated to buying and selling used textbooks.
In 2016, TransLink counted nearly 500 posts online trying to sell a U-Pass. After linking U-Pass to a student’s Compass Card, the number of posts online dropped to 300 in 2017.
From Feb. 1 to March 13, 2019, The Voice counted six posts from people wanting to buy U-Passes, and six posts of students trying to sell them. Posts typically had one or more comments from interested buyers or people offering their U-Passes for sale.
The U-Pass program provides post-secondary students with a subsidized monthly three-zone transit pass for $41 per month. The cost of the program is a mandatory fee for all students included in regular fees. Students aren’t able to opt out because costs are kept low per student by having everyone participate in the program. A regular three-zone adult monthly pass costs $174.
Trying to save money
A former Langara student posted on the Facebook page that he was looking to buy a U-Pass. He asked to remain anonymous, for fear of being targeted by transit police. In a Facebook message to The Voice, he said he is not currently in school and is looking for a way to save money.
“You might as well take advantage of it,” he said.
The former student said that on average, people can save around $30 for a one-month pass by buying a U-Pass from students.
Sgt. Clint Hampton, media relations officer with Metro Vancouver Transit Police, said the consequences of using a fraudulent U-Pass depends on the situation.
“What they’re committing is transportation by fraud,” Hampton said. “So, it’s a Criminal Code offence. So, in theory, they could be charged with a criminal offence.”
Hampton said that people caught using a U-Pass that isn’t theirs are likely to lose the card and receive two fines totalling $346.
Sales will not jeopardize program
The former student said that after learning the consequences of using someone else’s U-Pass from Langara students, he is no longer looking to buy one.
Some students say the consequences aren’t high enough.
“There should be a stricter fine,” said Manvir Kaur, a Langara student.
One Reddit user posting under the username Garble7 said they used a friend’s U-Pass for almost six months before getting caught, and received two tickets totalling about $400.
Hampton also said that while U-Pass buyers are more likely to be caught than those selling them, Transit Police do operate projects to target students who are selling their passes online.
Jill Drews, TransLink’s senior issues management adviser, said in an email that online sales of U-Passes will not jeopardize the subsidized program for other students.
Whatever fraud that they are considering, they need to get away with it. It’s what people are not trying to work on or trying to build. This is something that we all can have to work on for sure.
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