HSR con­fis­cates 85 stu­dent passes un­der new pol­icy

But Mac transit users say the is­sue is with the qual­ity of the card, not ‘fraud­u­lent be­hav­iour’

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thes­pec.com 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

City bus driv­ers have con­fis­cated 85 McMaster Univer­sity and Mo­hawk Col­lege stu­dent bus passes since July 1 un­der new en­force­ment poli­cies.

But an­gry McMaster stu­dents com­plain their HSR pass cards are be­ing wrong­fully con­fis­cated be­cause the val­i­da­tion num­bers fade and are hard to read.

HSR man­ager of transit sup­port ser­vices Nancy Purser said about 35 in­valid McMaster bus passes and 50 Mo­hawk passes have been con­fis­cated by bus driv­ers try­ing to ver­ify them.

Purser said this is not a crack­down but a move to ed­u­cate peo­ple about all bus passes.

McMaster stu­dents must show their stu­dent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion card plus a bus pass card with a three­digit num­ber match­ing their stu­dent ID. In the con­fis­cated passes, “ei­ther the num­ber is not on the card, or the (pass) num­ber and the stu­dent ID don’t match.”

Mo­hawk stu­dents must show just their stu­dent cards, which con­tain bus pass stick­ers. The ma­jor­ity of con­fis­cated Mo­hawk cards had coun­ter­feit stick­ers, Purser said.

Stu­dents at the city’s three post­sec­ondary schools must pay for a bus pass yearly in their manda­tory sup­ple­men­tary fees on top of tu­ition.

McMaster’s is for 12 months and costs $138 per stu­dent, but goes up to $150.80 in Septem­ber.

New Mo­hawk and Redeemer Univer­sity Col­lege bus passes — good for only eight months — cost $137.17.

McMaster Stu­dents Union (MSU) vice-pres­i­dent of fi­nance Ryan MacDonald said the MSU has re­ceived “up­wards of 20 email com­plaints” in the past few days about HSR’s new prac­tice.

“Fur­ther in­for­ma­tion on so­cial me­dia in­clud­ing the Face­book page Spot­ted at Mac has seen a big in­flux of stu­dents com­plain­ing that their pass was wrong­fully taken,” he added.

“The MSU is dis­ap­pointed that the HSR has taken the ap­proach to tar­get stu­dents,” MacDonald said. “The back of the card is clearly printed ‘wil­fully al­tered cards can be con­fis­cated.’ The is­sues we are see­ing are sim­ply fad­ing due to wear and tear of a card be­ing used for a year, not fraud­u­lent be­hav­iour on the part of stu­dents.”

But Purser says, “We’ve seen some cards and tried to make them fade and it’s not a sim­ple task ... I don’t be­lieve they fade that eas­ily.”

MacDonald says the MSU re­placed six dam­aged cards from Sept. 1 to June 30, but since July 1, has re­placed 42 dam­aged cards — not in­clud­ing those con­fis­cated.

“This in­di­cates a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in terms of wear and tear and an in­crease in HSR driv­ers telling stu­dents that their cards need to be re­placed,” he said.

Mo­hawk Stu­dent As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Kyle Datzkiw said he hasn’t heard of any is­sues from stu­dents at his col­lege about con­fis­cated cards.

The HSR pulls in $5.4 mil­lion a year in rev­enue from post-sec­ondary stu­dent bus passes. McMaster pur­chases 25,000, Mo­hawk gets 12,000 and Redeemer buys 700.

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