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Pay up TransLink fines, ICBC orders drivers

Did you have old unpaid tickets for failing to pay your fare on SkyTrain? ICBC will now freeze your licence and insurance renewals until you pay up. - Black Press file photo
Did you have old unpaid tickets for failing to pay your fare on SkyTrain? ICBC will now freeze your licence and insurance renewals until you pay up.
— image credit: Black Press file photo

Thousands of B.C. drivers are now being told they must pay old fines issued by TransLink for fare evasion if they want their auto insurance or driver's licences renewed.

The unpaid tickets – 37,000 of them worth $5.7 million – were issued between 2002 and 2012.

Provincial legislation passed in 2012 gave TransLink new powers to make fare evaders pay their fines and it also compelled ICBC to deny renewals until fines are paid in full – even old ones dating back more than a decade.

ICBC spokesman Adam Grossman said it took time for ICBC to make changes in its system to go after the pre-2012 fines, but it has now done so and the first "refusals to issue" on old tickets went into effect Monday.

"We actually started contacting customers at the beginning of March to let them know they had outstanding transit debt on their record," Grossman said.

"We're starting with those due to come in soon for either their licence or insurance renewal. We started with calls and then follow up with letters as well and there will be notes on insurance renewal reminders that go out as well."

He wasn't able to say how many drivers will be affected.

In the years before the system was reformed, 85 per cent of fare evasion fines issued by Transit Police went unpaid because TransLink had no power to enforce payment.

That dismal payment rate has improved.

As of February, nearly 30 per cent of the 36,300 fines issued since September 2012 have been paid, generating $1.8 million since the new system took effect.

Fines paid since then go to TransLink, while the money collected by ICBC on older fines goes to the province.

New fare evasion fines start at $173 but climb to $213 after six months and $273 if they're unpaid after a year. TransLink can also send unpaid tickets to collection agencies.

TransLink expects fare evasion will diminish further as a problem later this year when new transit faregates and the Compass card payment system are fully activated.

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