U-Pass fraud in Vancouver, says CBC

Investigation finds 35 students selling student transit passes online

According to a CBC News investigation, about three dozen Vancouver university students are illegally selling their discounted transit passes online for a profit, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The so-called U-Passes, which have a photo on the front and are non-transferable, are used by as many as 70,000 students at the University of British Columbia, Simon Fraser University, Capilano University and Langara College.

The price of the passes ranges from around $100 to $150 for four months, depending on the school, and allows unlimited travel on all of Vancouver’s public transit vehicles (including the light-rail SkyTrain and aquatic SeaBus).  The cost is automatically added to students’ tuition fees regardless of whether or not they use public transit.

An equivalent pass, for four months, would cost a regular transit user $544.

Searching the classifieds website Craigslist, the CBC investigation found that 35 students were selling their U-Passes online. The team then met the students in person and filmed them with a hidden camera. Some of them said they have no use for the passes, and sell them every year.

One student told the CBC that bus drivers don’t usually check the pass photo against its carrier, and that they usually “just flash it” when getting on the bus.

In an attempt to test the drivers, CBC sent one of its white female producers on a bus, armed with the U-Pass of a male East Asian student. The female producer flashed the pass at three different bus drivers, “none of whom batted an eye,” although she later paid the fare after telling the drivers about her experiment.

A spokesperson for TransLink, Vancouver’s transportation agency, says bus drivers can’t slow down boarding to check holders of the discounted passes, and increasing policing would cost more than a crackdown would save.

He also says it’s hard to quantify how much the company is losing to U-Pass reselling.

For more on this story, click here. For a video report, click here.




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U-Pass fraud in Vancouver, says CBC

  1. “A spokesperson for TransLink, Vancouver’s transportation agency, says bus drivers can’t slow down boarding to check holders of the discounted passes, and increasing policing would cost more than a crackdown would save.”

    That more or less makes this a non-news story, does it not? TransLink is a voraciously-for-profit company. If there was more money to be made being stingy about this, they would find a solution for this.

  2. Crack investigation finds under 0.1% of student body resells transit passes illegally. Crack investigation fails to realize over 0.1% would probably cheat the system anyways.

  3. Public transit should be free for everyone anyways. People need to get around, it can be hard for low-income people to pay five bucks to go there and back (at least, that’s about what it will set you back over here), and I’m pretty sure there’s something in the Charter about mobility rights. And if it’s free, it might be a lot more popular, which would seriously help with traffic congestion and reducing emissions.

  4. Upasses are great and yeah, there is fraud but there is certain level of corruption with everything, churches, non profit organizations, government institutions, the private sector, you name it.

    If 34 passes are being resold, thats only .05% of 70,000. I’d say a very successful program even if the number is higher.

    Good job to CBC but they just wasted time, Its up to Translink to do their part and as a business they know whats best.

  5. Bill,

    Just FYI, Mobility Rights have nothing to do with public transit useage.

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