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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Fake passes plague TheBus

By Gordon Y.K. Pang
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Mayor Mufi Hannemann holds up fake, right, and genuine, left, bus passes. In the past two weeks TheBus drivers have confiscated 198 fake bus passes, which sell for about half the cost of a real bus pass.

NORMAN SHAPIRO | The Honolulu Advertiser

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Satellite city halls

TheBus offices, 811 Middle St.


Times Supermarket


ABC Stores (not all)

University of Hawaii-Mänoa Campus Center

Hawaii Pacific University bookstore

Hawaiian Tel Federal Credit Union

Chit Chat Store (Bishop Square)

Source: City Department of Transportation Services

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The widespread use of counterfeit city bus passes has prompted city officials to warn bus passengers to buy their passes only from official sales locations.

TheBus drivers have confiscated 198 fake bus passes in the past two weeks, Mayor Mufi Hannemann said yesterday.

"Far too many people are using this," Hannemann said at a news conference. "The problem is that people are being duped into buying these passes."

The counterfeit passes are believed to be selling for $20 to $25, about half that of a $50 monthly adult bus pass, the mayor said.

"That should be the first signal to you that you're getting a bad deal," Hannemann said. "Please don't do this. It's wrong, it's not right, it's illegal."

Wayne Yoshioka, city transportation services director, said anyone caught using a fake bus pass will be asked to turn over the card and to leave TheBus.

Two of the people who tried to use the passes in recent days were arrested, said police Maj. Carlton Nishimura, commander of the department's Criminal Investigations Division.

The violations are misdemeanors, and those found guilty face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,000, Nishimura said.

Detectives are looking into where the counterfeits are being sold, he said. Nishimura did not rule out the possibility that they are being sold in stores.

"That's part of our investigation," he said.

People who come into possession of the fake passes should turn them over TheBus drivers or officials, Nishimura said.

There are ways to determine if a bus pass is counterfeit. Fake ones have a raised silver strip along the card's lower section. The strip in the real ones are incorporated into the plastic card.

Also, counterfeit cards generally have edges that are cut less uniformly.

Oahu Transit Services operates TheBus. J. Roger Morton, the company's president and general manager, praised bus operators for being "eagle-eyed" in looking out for counterfeit passes since warnings were issued two weeks ago.

"We told them that this was, in essence, stealing from the city when someone uses a fake bus pass," Morton said. "Clearly in these times, it's not something that can be tolerated at all."

While attempts at counterfeit bus passes is nothing new, "I've never seen anything as rampant as it is right now," he said.

A majority of the passes were confiscated from passengers in the Kalihi and downtown areas, where TheBus ridership is highest, Morton said. But they've also been spotted at the Waipahu and Wai'anae transit centers, as well in Kahalu'u, Waikīkī and Kapolei, he said.