Transit Cops: A True Story

I take public transit everywhere. Without a car, I have no other way of getting around town. I'm quite happy with my situation. Though it can, at times, be stinky, wet and a pain in the ass, it is for the most part a good, reliable way to get around.

Every morning I take my sorry but out bed and (after my morning ritual) take transit to work. I get on at a station which is nearly in the middle of the line. Every morning, I go all the way into the downtown core, a 20 minute ride that usualy comprises of standing, staying out of people's way and trying hard to not get hit by an umbrella. Burrard is a popular stop for business people. It's sort of central to the core of office buildings. For those who don't know this tidbit of information, Public Transit in Vancouver operates on an "Honour System", or at least the skytrain does (for buses, you have to choice but to pay when you get on). This information comes in handy in just a second. Every once in a while, a "Special Constable" or transit cop to the rest of us, gets on to check that everyone has fare. Now, during rush hour, this causes a bit of a problem because you can't move around to check the tickets. So the cops are getting smart.

I also go home during rush hour and the situation is the same as when I go to work in the morning, standing room only. At the station where I get on and off, there are escalators leading downstairs where the trains are and then there's a bit of a blind corner which leads to the train or further downstairs to the train going in the opposite direction. I call this a blind corner because when you're on the escalator, you can't see if there's someone standing around that corner. So guess where the transit cops have been turning up? You got it, at the corner. This is a great place to catch free riders because if they don't have a ticket, the only way to get out of there is to hop on the escalator going back up and that makes you kind of easy to track down. For the past few weeks, they have been turning up there a couple of days and it's amazing to see the reaction of people getting caught cathing a free ride. "But officer, I'm only going one stop!" "But officer, my transit expired 10 minutes ago and I'm only going one stop!" "But officer, don't you love my big blue eyes?" (the last one isn't true of course but I'm curious to find out if it's ever worked for anyone - other than in the movies). What bothers me the most is that last week, most of the people being caught looked like people with money. Gucci bags, Fendi sunglasses, Versachi suits. Go figure. The rich guys rip the system on a regular basis and the poor guy pays for fear of getting caught.

Note to the transit police: you should do this more often. I love to see a good bust.


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