Court rules Calgary man must pay Vancouver SkyTrain fine, despite having valid fare

A Calgary man who was issued a fine for following his friend through a SkyTrain fare gate in Vancouver has lost his bid to have the ticket thrown out.

Karl Lusawovana Nunu drove 10 hours from Alberta to fight the fine in court, after failing to have the ticket cancelled.

For Lusawovana Nunu, the incident was particularly frustrating because he had a valid fare, but followed his friend through the gate after his own ticket failed to activate its tap-to-open function.

On Tuesday, a judge ruled that despite having a valid fare, Lusawovana Nunu had still broken the law as written by following someone through the gate, and that his “hands were tied.”

“He bought himself a ticket, I believe that, but this is not about whether he had a valid ticket,” said Justice Zahid Makhdoom.

“When you ride the coattails of a friend to exit, you are breaking the law.”

The judge added that the Calgary resident had not done his due diligence by trying to tap on another gate or using the service phone for help.

However, the judge did lower the fine from $173 to $70.

“I am a little bit disappointed with the judge’s decision,” said Lusawovana Nunu.

“The judge mentioned that I should be aware of the procedure when the ticket doesn’t open [the gate]. As someone like me who doesn’t usually use TransLink I’m not even aware of it.”

Despite the failure to have his fine overturned, Lusawovana Nunu said it was worth it to fight the ticket until the end, because it could help raise awareness for other people who aren’t regular users of the system.

“They don’t bring the awareness for their clients, being aware about the actions they should take if something like this happens,” he said.

“Like me, someone who didn’t know, they just put me in the same bucket like people who are pretty much trying to get free rides.”

Lusawovana Nunu’s fight started back on Sept. 14, 2018 when he was out celebrating a job transfer with a friend.

He bought a fare at Columbia Station, but was unable to tap out properly at Stadium Station. After two failed attempts to tap the gate open, his friend opened it with his own Compass card.

A Metro Vancouver Transit Police (MVTP) officer immediately intervened, and ticketed Lusawovana Nunu, despite his attempts to explain he had a valid fare.

Lusawovana Nunu made a complaint to MVTP, who investigated, but determined he had, in fact, committed an offence.

— With files from Kristen Robinson

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