When I did a search of this blog for “fare evasion” I found 44 blog posts. I have not tried to read any of them but I do know that one theme I went back to more than once was that the faregates would not eliminate fare evasion, they would just change the way that it was done.
CTV now have a report on how the single ride ticket can be reprogrammed with a cell phone to allow more than one ride. They do not tell you how to reproduce this hack for yourself, but apparently it has been known for some time and has demonstrated on other Cubic systems such as New York. And apparently it is possible for Translink and the Transit Police to determine if a ticket has been hacked. Get caught with one and you face a charge of fraud rather than fare evasion.
I did not know about this hack when I was writing those posts, and I am not promoting its use now. What I did know was that every fare collection system has been a target of hackers: no transit system gets 100% compliance and the case Kevin Falcon tried to make was fatally flawed from the start. The only surprising thing about this story is that the ability to hack tickets had not been identified publicly earlier. Translink’s representative says they knew about it last year. Cubic could not be reached for comment – I suspect because they probably knew much earlier and kept quiet.
Postscript: once this blog post appeared on line, Jon Woodward, the CTV reporter who produced the original story, did read my older blog posts and tweeted about one I wrote in 2008 about London’s Oyster card being hacked.
And in the interests of completeness Jeff Nagel of Black Press has been talking to Translink who say that the amount that this fraud is costing them is actually not very much. They even say
“There is a solution, it’s just a matter of measuring the costs versus the benefits,” Bryan said. “Obviously there is an ability to manipulate this. For us it comes down to a cost-benefit analysis of what kind of impact it is having. Right now, it’s very minimal in terms of cost.”
Which, of course, was exactly the same position that Translink adopted when they originally examined faregates before Kevin Falcon imposed them ignoring the cost-benefit analysis.