Compass fare gates are supposed to keep fare evaders out but some are using smartphone apps to rewrite ticket data.

Fare evaders hack Compass tickets to open gates

TransLink so far reluctant to upgrade system to thwart 'minimal' problem of fraud by ticket tamperers

TransLink admits a few fare evaders are getting through Compass fare gates without paying by using a smartphone app that makes expired Compass paper tickets valid again.

Officials say it has so far happened only about 25 times since December.

“We can see it as soon as it happens,” spokesman Chris Bryan said of the tech-savvy ticket tampering. “Right now we’re just monitoring the frequency of it. It’s been very low. We are continuing to monitor it closely. If we do see that increase we’ll have to act on it.”

He stressed it affects only the Compass paper tickets that that are dispensed as temporary fares at station vending machines – no vulnerabilities have been detected so far involving the Compass cards themselves.

A paper ticket manipulated by smartphone can be instantly detected by TransLink and it can be cancelled so it won’t work the next time the fraudster tries to tap it at a gate. Even if it’s not cancelled the ticket wouldn’t work for more than a day.

If Transit Police intercept perpetrators they could face a $173 fare evasion fine and potential criminal fraud charges.

“It is fraud, it is an offence to do what some people have done,” Bryan said, but added the overwhelming majority of passengers pay the correct fare.

Officers are equipped with mobile scanners to verify tickets in fare-paid zones.

So far, some manipulated tickets have been cancelled but there have been no arrests.

Bryan said it would be an offence to either tamper with a Compass ticket or to use one to avoid paying fares.

The vulnerability with transit payment systems provided by Cubic Transportation Systems was first exposed in 2012, and similar hacks have been documented in U.S. cities where smartphones have been used to rewrite data on the chips embedded in tickets.

Bryan confirmed TransLink knew such hacks were likely to happen here too.

He said a technology solution is available to TransLink that could be considered if the problem becomes too large.

“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.”

No estimate has been provided on the cost of upgrading the system to thwart the smartphone hack.

The same type of fare ticket is used in numerous systems around the world.

“This is a lot of work to not pay a fare,” one local transit user said of the smartphone hack on Reddit, noting other fare evaders now cheat by simply closely following behind paying riders as they pass through the gates.

Just Posted

Outdoor terrace opens at City Hall

The outdoor terrace renovation is the final component of the Timms Community Centre renewal.

A GoFundMe for the goats

Matthew Farden surpassed his fundraising goal for Aldergrove’s Happy Herd Farm rescue animals.

Langley Township’s Froese named vice-chair of Mayors’ Council

The Township mayor will be one of the top officials overseeing TransLink.

Holiday market for a mission

The Aldergrove HANDS mission team is hosting a holiday market to raise money for Belize.

LETTER: Canada should not be selling weapons abroad

A Langley man is critical of Canada for selling arms that are being used to kill civilians.

Winter weather hits parts of Canada

As some parts of the country brace for cold, parts of B.C. remain warmer than 10 C

Canada’s health system commendable overall but barriers to care remain: UN

The United Nations says Canada’s health care system is “commendable” overall but vulnerable groups still face barriers to quality care.

Unique technology gives children with special needs more independent play

UVic’s CanAssist refined seven prototypes aided by $1.5M government contribution

Kelly Ellard’s boyfriend has statutory release revoked

Darwin Duane Dorozan had several parole infractions that found him ‘unmanageable’

New chair of Metro Vancouver board is Burnaby councillor

The 40-person board is made up of elected officials from 21 cities and one First Nation

Doctor’s note shouldn’t be required to prove you’re sick: poll

70% of Canadians oppose allowing employers to make you get a sick note

German-born B.C. man warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Fashion Fridays: 5 coats you need this winter!

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Saskatchewan college honours memory of Humboldt Broncos coach

Darcy Haugan wore jersey No. 22 when he was a star player with the Briercrest College Clippers

Most Read