As AT-HOP continues to be rolled out across the Auckland public transport network (albeit late, over budget and full of bugs) I would like to remind Aucklanders of the Melbourne situation in regards to fare evasion from a similar system to ours which includes “enforcement officers.”
From The Age:
More than 21,000 people avoided paying a fine after being booked for fare evasion on Victorian public transport system last financial year – meaning almost 11.5 per cent of fines issued were not enforced.
Figures released to the Victorian Greens and made public on Monday reveal that people who challenge an infringement notice have a better than 10 per cent chance of avoiding the fine, despite high-profile advertising campaigns warning “there is no excuse”.
“[Public Transport Minister] Terry Mulder’s whole ‘get tough, no excuses’ line on fare evasion is hollow,” Victoria Greens leader Greg Barber said.
“Ticket inspectors sometimes get it wrong. Special circumstances sometimes apply and the courts form their own view. That’s why 11.5 per cent of all tickets aren’t enforced – a pretty poor hit rate by any standards.”
The figures show that 188,566 infringement notices were issued in 2011-12 and 21,674 of those were withdrawn.
Most withdrawals, 17,152, came with an official warning, with just 591 notices being withdrawn completely after being reviewed. A further 2417 fines were waived after being challenged in court.
Mr Barber said the state’s system of using patrolling authorised officers to police fare evasion was inefficient. He called for a return of tram conductors and fully staffed railway stations, not seen since the 1990s.
“It’s a pretty inefficient way to try to reduce fare evasion,” Mr Barber said.
“You’ve got to make it normal to meet a human, buy a ticket, have your ticket checked, or you’re never going to get any progress.”
A Public Transport Victoria spokeswoman said everyone was expected to have a valid ticket, but that passengers had a legal right to appeal against their fine.
“By far the most common reason for fines being withdrawn is where a passenger travelling on a concession fare has forgotten to carry their proof of eligibility,” the spokeswoman said.
“Where they can later produce proof of their concession entitlement, the fine may be withdrawn. Clear cases of fare evasion, such as those travelling with no ticket at all, will get fined and no excuse will be tolerated.”
The fine for travelling without a ticket is $207.
Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said last month that much fare evasion was “opportunistic” because of the lack of customer service staff on the network.
“There needs to be a full staff presence at every station from first to last train … it is simply penny-pinching to not provide that staff presence now,” Dr Morton said.
“It is no doubt that some fare evasion on the train system is opportunistic evasion that might be avoided if there was a consistent staff presence on stations and people had an idea that they might get caught.
Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/thousands-escape-fare-evasion-fines-20130225-2f162.html#ixzz2M45Q7Lit
Rather disturbing from Melbourne.
Now reading the Business Report from the February Auckland Transport Board agenda it states on page 19 that 16% to 23% of passengers travelling by rail were checked by roving Ticket Inspectors with an unknown percentage not having a valid ticket or tagged on AT-HOP card. 16% – 23% means a maximum of 6.000 individual checks done (according to the Business Report) where there is an estimate of around 30,000 passengers travelling per (week)day on the network across some 326 approximate services (Monday to Thursday, with more on Friday, and less on Saturday and Sunday). It means in technical terms that upwards of 23% of total revenue from rail passengers is protected meaning currently some 77% if total revenue if everyone paid their fare (or had a Super Gold concession) per day is at potential risk. In saying that there is safeguards at Newmarket and Britomart where you need a ticket or AT-HOP card one way or the other to get through the gate system, but the idea is to not get that far without a ticket.
77% of your revenue at risk from fare evasion – due to only 23% of all passengers being individually checked by roving Ticket Inspectors – big case of OUCH! So it begs the question would you take the risk on skipping out of your fare providing you were not passing through Britomart and Newmarket ? With those figures I quoted it would be a case of “Why Not!”
Now before anyone points fingers, I am a good citizen and tag on and off with my AT-HOP card when travelling by train – so I pay my fare as it is only fair.
What I am pointing out is that Auckland with AT-HOP has the potential issues as Melbourne does with Fare Evasion – although Melbournites face a stiffer penalty at $207 (Australian) and a higher chance of getting caught. Our poultry “penalty” fare is $10.30 and moves to $20 next month – however this limitation is due to legislation issues currently being sorted to address.
We also have the two issues with AT-HOP of: lack of customer service, and the reliability of Rail Ticket Machines and Tagging Posts (I usually do a post every fortnight on the machines breaking down over the weekends). I will write separate posts on these in due course however, those issues do not really inspire confidence in the public transport ticketing system to the point they could act as a catalyst to fare evade.
So a warning from Melbourne and another LGOIMA request to go fill out.
I wonder if “we” are taking in the lessons learned from our cousins in Australia?