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’
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.