Starting Monday, Madison Metro will begin to enforce an existing policy in effort to address the growing issue of bus pass fraud within the city.
According to a University of Wisconsin statement, Madison Metro will begin implementing a policy requiring students to produce a university-issued photo ID with the use of the unlimited bus pass. If unable to produce a valid Wiscard or UW Health ID, students and university employees will have their bus pass confiscated and be offered a one-day pass, the statement said.
This policy will not be enforced on any of the lines in the 80s, as those services are free to all passengers, Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8 said.
Resnick said currently, students and employees have been selling the unlimited bus passes online on websites like Craigslist and Ebay.
“What is happening is that someone will go online and basically put it up for sale,” Resnick said. “Sometimes they are fairly hot commodities and go for $300.”
It is a large enough problem that essentially showing an ID has now become necessary, Resnick added.
Madison Metro spokesperson Mick Ruesch said the policy has existed since the beginning of UW’s unlimited student bus pass program and is denoted on the back of the individual bus passes, however, it has not been enforced until this point.
According to Reusch, the problem of fraudulent unlimited bus pass use has been brought to the attention of Madison Metro over the years by various levels of contracting partners, like Associated Students of Madison, Reusch said, adding Madison Metro decided to address the issue in effort to sustain the contracting partnership with ASM.
Ruesch emphasized the cost of a fraudulent bus pass used is incurred by the segregated fees collected by ASM and the university, as the $1.15 price of every swipe is charged directly to the contracted partners.
According to Ruesch, with the increase in fraudulent bus passes, the price of such a program for the university has increased, putting the entire unlimited bus pass program at risk.
“We are trying to get the message out that passes are not transferable,” Ruesch said. “It is not Metro that is losing the money, it is the programs that are losing. We want people to know that the costs are getting so high that these programs might stop, and we don’t want that to happen.”
According to Reusch, although the exact numbers of fraudulent bus pass users is unavailable, with a quick search on Craigslist, unlimited bus passes can be found for sale easily.
Although Resnick said the enforcement of the pre-existing policy should not pose a problem for students, as they should be carrying their IDs in general, Ruesch apologized for any inconvenience the new policy may cause.
“There will be [problems] initially,” Ruesch said. “There will probably be some struggle, and we do apologize ahead of time.”
Ruesch added Madison Metro is also in the beginning stages of looking into new fare boxes, which may include smart card technology with tamper-proof chip stickers on student ID card.
“Moving forward, that might be a solution,” Ruesch said.
According to the statement, students whose passes have been confiscated should contact ASM Bus Program Office at 263-3950 or firstname.lastname@example.org.