Fredericton bus passes prove easy to counterfeit

A security loophole in the Fredericton Transit system means some bus users could be getting a free ride.

No plans to install more secure system at cost of $700,000

Fredericton's monthly bus passes offer little in the way of security features to thwart counterfeiting. 2:07

A security loophole in the Fredericton Transit system means some bus users could be getting a free ride.

Many regular bus users purchase a monthly pass for $70 that is good for unlimited use of the city's transit system.

The monthly pass is a cardboard ticket that is shown to the driver when boarding.

One of these monthly bus passes for Fredericton Transit is real - the one on the left. The other is a forgery. Only 32 per cent of CBC viewers who responded to an informal poll guessed right, as of 7 p.m. (Redmond Shannon / CBC)
But Troy Moore, an instructor of graphic design at the Centre for Arts and Technology, says it is not hard to duplicate the monthly passes.

"This would be extremely easy to copy," said Moore. "In fact, I think I could copy this with about 100 per cent accuracy with about an hour's work."

In Halifax last year, a number of people were charged with forging bus passes.

There are no reports of bus passes being forged in Fredericton. But to test how easily it could be done, CBC News made a copy of a pass and showed it to Fredericton Transit manager Tony Hay.

Hay initially said bus passes have security features that guard against copying.

"If you photocopied that on a colour printer, there's words that come out there that you could tell it was a forgery — either Void or Copy or whatever," said Hay. "And this colour here, the ink in that is a special ink."

"And what if I told you that this one that's in your hand is actually a copy, would that surprise you," asked CBC reporter Redmond Shannon.

"No, it wouldn't surprise me," said Hay.

In an informal CBC poll on Monday, only 32 per cent of viewers who responded by 7 p.m. had guessed correctly which was the real pass.

Nearly 38 per cent of respondents thought the forgery was real, while about 30 per cent said they were unable to tell the difference.

Hay said the city has looked into installing electronic pass readers, but it could cost as much as $700,000. There are no plans to install such a system.

The transit manager conceded it could be easy for a rider to slip past a bus driver using a forgery.

"If there's a lot of people, people could slide by and do it. I'm not going to disagree with that," said Hay.

However, he doesn't believe there are many forged passes being used.

"The patterns I see in our ridership … if my monthly sales were down a lot, then I could tell there would be something going on. My monthly sales aren't going down, they're going up."

But he concedes it could be taking place.

"There could be people out there doing it. No different than on UNB, people doing UNB cards or what have you."

Anyone caught using a forged bus pass faces a fine or possible jail time. (The forged pass created by CBC was not used to ride the bus system).


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.