Fare Evasion

 
  SydTrain1988 Beginner

Fare evasion is a major problem on the Sydney network, and there is limited interest in enforcing the rules by the authorities.

The economic motive for fare evasion is simple; a daily traveler must get caught at least ten times a year in order to make buying a ticket worthwhile.

This article details the decline in enforcement levels:
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/evaders-winning-fare-game-on-trains-20130806-2rdj5.html

My personal observation is that there has been an unwillingness by police assigned to the transport command to inspect tickets, as well as as a lower strength in numbers than the transit officers they replaced.

Major issues include:
-Enormous abuse of the $2.50 Pensioner ticket by just about everyone
-Fraudulent use of concessions
-Increased focus by police on security to the detriment of ticket enforcement
-Fine is too low
-Barrier staff have no enforcement power (people jumping gates just laugh at them)
-When there are transport/transit officers, they roam around, uniformed in packs of four or five, meanwhile the dodger stands at the end pf the platform and notices them in an instant as the train pulls in.
-Keeping a "reserve" multi ticket purchased from a newsagent in case an officer inspects them
-Rumour has it that transport officers will only number 150, only work between 6am to 9pm, and only in sydney metro. Open slather everywhere else!
-All the new transport officers I have seen just seem to sit on train talking rather than working (It's government, no suprise)
-Anyone who sees transits at barriers checking concessions, just turns around, uses a different barrier or takes the train to another city station. Only the dumb or those ignorant of the ticket rules get caught.
-You can get in without even jumping a barrier most of the day at the Bathurst street end of museum and at St James.


One thing they have done that has been beneficial is to strengthen the barriers to resist them being pulled open. However one can still just easily step over the wide barrier.
They also tried a 'no concessions' from vending machines, but it is hardly ever turned on, even at the times when it's meant to be. In any case, one can just pick up a 2.50 PET from a local newsagent anyway, no ID. (manly wharf newslink comes in handy for manly ferry)

I believe the fine should be 550 first offence, 800 second offence, there needs to be at least 600 transport officers, PET only sold from window, not at machine and not at newsagent. And the transport officers and police need to wear plain clothes sometimes as well. Also more blitzes at barriers (I'm thinking at least 1 day a week per barrier) if they can disrupt people's routine enough, they will eventually cave in and buy.

How do I know all this? for years I paid exactly the same amount for trains as railcorp staff do.

Does anyone else have any ideas for combating fare dodgers?

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  viaprojects Train Controller


Does anyone else have any ideas for combating fare dodgers?
SydTrain1988

yes - nsw goverment and cityrail etc.... need to stop changing the rail security policy and ticket enforment policy. or find a smart lawyer to fix the rules.
  gmanning1 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney
Does anyone else have any ideas for combating fare dodgers?
SydTrain1988
Wait for the rollout of OPAL card. Aren't their different cards for concession, student, etc.

No touch-on means you didn't pay.
No touch-off means you pay more.
Wrong card type means you are scamming concession fares.

All the physical problems will probably stay as is.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Agreed regarding Opal, and beefing up revenue protection and security. Because of the tendency for fare evaders to become violent when they fail an inspection, and the fact that crime and anti-social behaviour is high, I suggest a dedicated force of TfNSW special constables.
  gmanning1 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney
Agreed regarding Opal, and beefing up revenue protection and security. Because of the tendency for fare evaders to become violent when they fail an inspection, and the fact that crime and anti-social behaviour is high, I suggest a dedicated force of TfNSW special constables.
Watson374

I think this is one of the benefits of OPAL.

The inspections can be done during the trip (with a team of 4 burly ticket inspectors) not at the completion where they play barrier jumpers / hide and seek with the station staff. Basically don't need to worry too much at each end, if they don't have a valid ticket they are caught out. Cant use the old trick of having a weekly ticket to beat the system.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
I think this is one of the benefits of OPAL.

The inspections can be done during the trip (with a team of 4 burly ticket inspectors) not at the completion where they play barrier jumpers / hide and seek with the station staff. Basically don't need to worry too much at each end, if they don't have a valid ticket they are caught out. Cant use the old trick of having a weekly ticket to beat the system.
"gmanning1"
Exactly.

TfNSW special constables (and even operator-commanded "transport special constables" (TSCs?) armed with Opal readers will form the perfect raiding party. Because there will be no faffing about with the validity of weekly zones, or even arguments over section points (don't laugh, I once got into an icy argument with four STA RPOs over section points and won), it will be a simple test of, 'Do you have a validated Opal card?'

If it's a yes, then they can go on their merry way. If not, they can be tackled.

Yes, I mean 'tackled' quite literally. (Don't laugh, I've also seen transits successfully tackle a burly, belligerent man a head taller than the tallest of the team.)
  darcyj Chief Train Controller

Not that it matters, with millions being spent on rolling out Opal across all modes, my suggestion becomes moot, but worth keeping on file for 30 years hence when Opal is stone-age.

All public transport free.

Cost is the revenue from ticket sales, obviously, plus a quantum increase in patronage which would have to be catered for with more trains.

Benefits are the savings from elimination of the entire ticket system - the infrastructure, the maintenance of the infrastructure, the electricity which runs the machines and barriers, the material cost of tickets or cards, and staffing of selling points, barriers and inspections.

Services requiring the booking of a seat would still cost money, due to the need to control numbers.

Obviously the finances take a hit, as the savings I outlined do not fully fund the loss of fare revenue. However, fare revenue doesn't come close to funding the transport system now, nor even when revenue jumps from Opal-induced increased compliance. But benefits can be seen beyond the solving of the initial problem (fare evasion), starting with the possible removal of cars from the road.

Radical idea, yes. Absurd, no. As I said, to be considered in the very long term, when the necessary replacement of the fare system looms and looms huge.
  T88 Junior Train Controller

Location: Banned
Got to agree with Darcyj.
Make travel free. Simply implement a transport levy much like Medicare.
I believe transit officers have been instructed not to inspect tickets anymore. They are merely eyes for police till police get up to full strength numbers.I believe police are more interested in real crime.
The opal card will not change anything. They are not compulsory. It will take 5-6 years before the current ticket system is abolished.
Approximately 70 new transport officers will graduate from training at the end of the month. They are well trained with exceptional customer service skills.If and when the network becomes privatized, no doubt the new operator will be protecting revenue as a priotry.
  witsend Chief Commissioner

Location: Front RH Seat of a School Bus
I posted this on busaustralia on how to deal with concession fare fraud:

TBH, if the ticket systems used in Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth could have a concession expiry set on it.

Take this example:  In Adelaide, My school issues all Year 7 students and higher an ID card which is valid until 28/2/201x. The parents pay $5 each year for this. In the metro area, parents also pay another $3.50 for a Student/Concession MetroCard. My logic is that you integrate the two cards. I believe this is maybe done in Sydney. The student card is issued by the school for it's customary $5 at the start of 2014. No metrocard is required. The student can then use their ID card as their metrocard. A parent can load the balance on the card, and it is protected, ie If the card is lost stolen, the card is deactivated. This will apply the concession to the balance until 28/2/2015. On 1/3/2015, the card commences charging at full-fare. The student continues on, their new card is issued, and with a quick login to their card online, then can enter their new card number, which links the balance of the old card to the new, and cancels the previous card. This could also be done automatically, if appropriate systems are linked.

This means those who have concession cards issued by the government, could be set for each six months, (or appropriate validity period) or perpetual in the case of Seniors Cards. Things like Centrepay can be used to provide topups if necessary. Upon the expiry of the concession, the card continues to operate, but at full adult rates. If you board the bus and buy a fare onboard, irrespective, it is a full fare.

Ticket Vendors/7-11s/etc basically recharge the card with whatever balance is credited to the machine. The concession is apply by the central computer when card is presented, thus say only debiting 50% instead of 100% of the fare. In the case a school student traveling in term, it could initially charge the fare, then credit it back. The schools could even be a spot to recharge the credit balance.

For the inspectors/transit officers, it makes it really easy, as they already have some form of ID to travel on concession.

If the student/concession holder travels without the card, it's full fare. If they have their card, their concession will auto-magically apply. The driver of the bus still has the discretion whether to apply all fare or no fare, but doesn't need to worry about concession.

To take this one step further, I'd actually integrate the card with Proof of Age and/or Drivers Licences. That way, it's one less barrier to get a ticket into people's hands. As an additional incentive, you could apply a 10 trip credit.

Effectively, it puts the onus back on the person to prove entitlement. It may lead to a slight increase in fare evasion, where they travel without paying all together, but surely this This is too simple/logical, and therefore, it will likely never happen. Any feedback welcome.
"witsend"
  Aurora8 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Sydney
I'm against making public transport free. A - stronger pressure to increase taxes as a result of higher government costs. B - the network would become literally ridden (much more than now) with homeless people and anti-socials causing greater havoc and safety/security risks on the public transport system.

Frankly, the NSW Government needs to get the revenue-expenditure gap closer, not widened.

I want people on the network who actually have paid for their trip and hence are going somewhere. Not people who are there causing problems because they can go wherever they like and do what they want largely without proper consequence.

We simply can't cover every square metre 24/7. To try to achieve that would mean another massive increase to expenditure and thus even more pressure to increase taxes.

What we need is more police and the proper officers on the beat to ensure a large enough number of tickets are being checked across the network to make the presence measured, work on getting fines big enough to be the barrier (no pun intended) to fare evasion while not so big that people can easily plead that they can't afford it while working to increase the reliability of ticketing infrastructure. Whether we introduce weekend detention for fare evaders as an alternate consequence to those who can't afford it I'm not sure but there definitely is a lot of work to be done in getting things up to scratch. We also need State Debt Recovery to do a better job in chasing up fines payable because there are so many unpaid fines that being fined isn't being as strong a deterrent as it should be.
  Jim K Train Controller

Location: Well west of the Great Divide in NSW but not as far as South Australia
Fare evasion is a major problem on the Sydney network, and there is limited interest in enforcing the rules by the authorities.

The economic motive for fare evasion is simple; a daily traveler must get caught at least ten times a year in order to make buying a ticket worthwhile.

This article details the decline in enforcement levels:
http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/evaders-winning-fare-game-on-trains-20130806-2rdj5.html

My personal observation is that there has been an unwillingness by police assigned to the transport command to inspect tickets, as well as as a lower strength in numbers than the transit officers they replaced.
SydTrain1988
BOF Government tried to claim a 'decrease' in fare evasion... which their numbers are right... less people caught because less people to catch the offenders. I don't think I have seen one member of the Police inspect a ticket.

Interesting for BOF to think to spend $70K on training a police officer, get a degree in Policing... to get rail evaders... doesnt really add up in my books
  belfordrocks South Coast G Set

The international method of having taller gates that are always open except for when you try to walk past without first swiping your ticket in which it quickly shuts on you is a pretty good solution I think.
  darcyj Chief Train Controller

Whether we introduce weekend detention for fare evaders as an alternate consequence to those who can't afford it I'm not sure
Aurora8

I am sure about that one - can't be done.  There is no room in prisons as it is, for actual criminals.  In fact there needs to be less custodial punishment, and it is fairly easy to enforce deprivational punishment in a home-detention system.

But what could be done is that those caught without a valid ticket are taken into custody at the time of being caught, and removed from the train at the next stop and removed from the station.  That seriously impacts upon their intended purpose and forces them - under observation - to buy a ticket if they want to continue to travel.
  witsend Chief Commissioner

Location: Front RH Seat of a School Bus
I am sure about that one - can't be done.  There is no room in prisons as it is, for actual criminals.  In fact there needs to be less custodial punishment, and it is fairly easy to enforce deprivational punishment in a home-detention system.

But what could be done is that those caught without a valid ticket are taken into custody at the time of being caught, and removed from the train at the next stop and removed from the station.  That seriously impacts upon their intended purpose and forces them - under observation - to buy a ticket if they want to continue to travel.
"darcyj"


You could always allow them to ride for free provided they substitute themselves for the pantograph. Darwin should fix that issue. Call it community service.
  billybaxter Deputy Commissioner

Location: Bosnia Park, Fairfield
Free transport is a bad idea. The trains, particularly at night and during cold or rainy weather, would just become hostels on wheels for the homeless. Sure, a useful public service would be provided (shelter for the homeless), but at the expense of another (transport). Any effort to return the level of antisocial behaviour to what it was before would require heavy investment in security measures, something that will give the beancounters a fit just as you've eliminated one of your main income streams. The little investment that exists in rolling stock, stations, trackwork etc. would almost certainly be further reduced. In short, sounds nice but it's a recipe for disaster.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
The international method of having taller gates that are always open except for when you try to walk past without first swiping your ticket in which it quickly shuts on you is a pretty good solution I think.
"belfordrocks"
Zing.

Okay, look. All concession-related problems can be solved under Opal. Seriously. Integrate the concession card with the ticket, and you can even put an expiry on it. (This is done in Singapore, where the student concession ez-link cards ARE their student IDs. They have ID photos to boot.) The cards will sort out all the problems 'behind the scenes'.

So what? So that the ticket inspection process can be a simple question of, 'Do you have a validated Opal card?' This coupled with the better enforcement mentioned by Aurora8 will make it significantly easier to close the revenue/expenditure gap.
  g00r Locomotive Fireman

Kill two birds with one stone.

To counter the argument against free public transport because of the influx of homeless people, recruit the homeless as 'visitor information volunteers'

In Melbourne CBD, there are groups of (generally retired) folk on Swanston st in bright red jumpers that provide tourist information.

So I say, make Sydney trains free, enact a 'maximum trips per day policy' which gives reason to boot off space-wasters or give the the opportunity to provide community service. Train them to provide visitor information. All volunteers receive meal vouchers while on shift.  Which also gives the public another response to;
"Any spare change for food"?
"Have you considered a career in tourist information? They pay you in food"?
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
"Any spare change for food"?
"Have you considered a career in tourist information? They pay you in food"?
"g00r"

You're joking, of course?
  Aurora8 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Maybe we could have a day's community service rather than weekend detention. They can clean rubbish from the rail corridor. I've already even got a station in mind to start (Olympic Park).
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Not that it matters, with millions being spent on rolling out Opal across all modes, my suggestion becomes moot, but worth keeping on file for 30 years hence when Opal is stone-age.

All public transport free.

Cost is the revenue from ticket sales, obviously, plus a quantum increase in patronage which would have to be catered for with more trains.

Benefits are the savings from elimination of the entire ticket system - the infrastructure, the maintenance of the infrastructure, the electricity which runs the machines and barriers, the material cost of tickets or cards, and staffing of selling points, barriers and inspections.

Services requiring the booking of a seat would still cost money, due to the need to control numbers.

Obviously the finances take a hit, as the savings I outlined do not fully fund the loss of fare revenue. However, fare revenue doesn't come close to funding the transport system now, nor even when revenue jumps from Opal-induced increased compliance. But benefits can be seen beyond the solving of the initial problem (fare evasion), starting with the possible removal of cars from the road.
darcyj

This way madness lies.

Your idea as presented doesn't "solve" the underlying problem - which is getting people to pay for the transport that they use.

Some of the benefits you quote are almost inconsequential in the scheme of things (electricity to run the machines and barriers??  For all machines and barriers across the network that's probably less than that used by a couple of trains under acceleration!).

About a third of the cost of metropolitan public transport is covered by fares.  So, in the absence of some sort of additional source of funds, you are looking at having to cut about a third of your services.  Make sure that the third that gets cut is the third that you use.  After all, if you are not willing to pay for something, then you probably didn't value it in the first place.

The outcome of your idea would be a system that managed demand through the quality of service (frequency, extent, capacity) provided.  You don't want to go there.  

(If I set up an turn-up-and-go airline (noting that scheduled aeroplane services are absolutely a form of public transport) are you proposing that it be free?)

Simply implement a transport levy much like Medicare.
"T88"


Only a localised source of revenue would make any sense, like an increase in council rates.  Otherwise you have a complete disconnect between those who incur the cost of use and the benefit of use.  

We all use the public health system in some way.  The extent of coverage and utilisation of the public transport networks that this sort of proposal would apply to is paltry by comparison.

Of course there is some cost associated with fare collection.  It's worthwhile putting some effort into reducing that cost of collection - that's one of the main reasons that these smartcard systems are brought in.  A reduction in the cost of collection benefits all users - consequently I pretty much have zero sympathy for those luddites that resist/refuse to adapt to their introduction.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

TAbout a third of the cost of metropolitan public transport is covered by fares.  So, in the absence of some sort of additional source of funds, you are looking at having to cut about a third of your services.  Make sure that the third that gets cut is the third that you use.  After all, if you are not willing to pay for something, then you probably didn't value it in the first place.

...
Of course there is some cost associated with fare collection.  It's worthwhile putting some effort into reducing that cost of collection - that's one of the main reasons that these smartcard systems are brought in.  A reduction in the cost of collection benefits all users - consequently I pretty much have zero sympathy for those luddites that resist/refuse to adapt to their introduction.
donttellmywife

It's not as far fetched an idea as you might think.  Fare box recovery is closer to 23% than 33% in the metro area.  And the cost of recovering those fares is non-trivial.  It's not as high as 20%, but it'd be a good 10% or more.  The primary role of station staff is revenue collection and protection, and if that function wasn't needed, easily station staff rates could be reduced by at least half (assuming no

And not so much the financial costs, the convenience and physically restricted access to services the barriers create are a substantial disincentive to use public transport, which is part of their purpose (to contain operational costs).

Personally I think OPAL and indeed most smart card systems are failing in that they attempt to automate the manual fare collection method based on staff, station barriers and/or on vehicle conductors.  And they deliberately make the system harder than need be to use.

My view is electronic ticketing should involve on-train sensors for RFID tickets, it should allow users to register their phone as a ticket too, with this linked back to an itemised account your PT fare provider sends you monthly.  Ditch the barriers (except perhaps major city stations where you check for possession of a valid account identifier) and most of the sales and inspection staff, with intelligence based RPOs using the electronic data available to track down and deal with people trying to game the system.  But also a better way of dealing with this are fare structures that is harder to game and less financially rewarding to do so.
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
It's not as far fetched an idea as you might think.  Fare box recovery is closer to 23% than 33% in the metro area.  And the cost of recovering those fares is non-trivial.  It's not as high as 20%, but it'd be a good 10% or more.  The primary role of station staff is revenue collection and protection, and if that function wasn't needed, easily station staff rates could be reduced by at least half (assuming no
djf01
Then just cancel one in four services.  

(By metropolitan I'm assuming the higher cost and lower recovery NSW Trains type services are not included.  You are also well aware that current "lower-than-normal" farebox recoveries (and "public transport" means across all modes... not just Sydney Trains) are a consequence of government policy decisions over the last few years.)

Given the geographic extent of the Sydney metropolitan transport network (i.e., I'm not even considering NSW Trains) it is crazy talk.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
It's not as far fetched an idea as you might think.  Fare box recovery is closer to 23% than 33% in the metro area.  And the cost of recovering those fares is non-trivial.  It's not as high as 20%, but it'd be a good 10% or more.  The primary role of station staff is revenue collection and protection, and if that function wasn't needed, easily station staff rates could be reduced by at least half (assuming no

And not so much the financial costs, the convenience and physically restricted access to services the barriers create are a substantial disincentive to use public transport, which is part of their purpose (to contain operational costs).
"djf01"
I disagree.

I agree that the farebox recovery ratio is rubbish, but a lot of the bleeding is caused by rampant fare evasion, from the little tricks like dipping a TravelTen once for two passengers to outright leaping over barriers and running the hell away from a squad of wheezing transits.

Essentially, I agree with the notion of narrowing the revenue/expenditure gap rather than just giving up. One the one hand, revenue needs to be better collected and protected; on the other, costs need to come down (but that's another argument for another thread). But I don't believe that a poor farebox recovery ratio is a valid reason to throw one's hands up and give in.

Personally I think OPAL and indeed most smart card systems are failing in that they attempt to automate the manual fare collection method based on staff, station barriers and/or on vehicle conductors.  And they deliberately make the system harder than need be to use.
"djf01"
I disagree.

While they do indeed often work on the basis of automating the existing barrier/reader system, they offer a faster, more streamlined process and have in most applications heralded a new era in ticketing. Imagine if you could just travel. Opal aims to offer just that. Touch your card, wait for the beep, and you're good to go.

My view is electronic ticketing should involve on-train sensors for RFID tickets, it should allow users to register their phone as a ticket too, with this linked back to an itemised account your PT fare provider sends you monthly.  Ditch the barriers (except perhaps major city stations where you check for possession of a valid account identifier) and most of the sales and inspection staff, with intelligence based RPOs using the electronic data available to track down and deal with people trying to game the system.  But also a better way of dealing with this are fare structures that is harder to game and less financially rewarding to do so.
"djf01"
I disagree.

I once did some experimental calculations based on this idea, and I came to the conclusion that for most systems, having the readers on the trains would actually increase the number of readers required, which sort of defeats the purpose of the exercise.

I've said it before, but I'll say it again: under Opal, we will have a system which will be much easier to track and enforce (as well as one that will allow us to fix the utterly broken fare structure).

I have enough confidence to see how this rolls for the next couple of years.
  gmanning1 Junior Train Controller

Location: Sydney
This may be a political no-no, but why not print the amount of the government subsidy on the ticket? Make it more obvious how cheap public transport really is. I know that my $4.80 day return (off-peak) fare to the city is excellent value. Even $7.20 to stand like a sardine in the rush hour is still a lot cheaper that a taxi and a lot quicker that a 1 hour walk each way.
  GCaldwell Beginner

I was wondering if anyone can tell me how teh Opal card will stop fare evasion between suburban stations - (When it is rolled out across teh entire network). A passenger gets on at Coniston and does not touch on. Then goes to Woonoona and does not touch off. No barrier gates either side. If they are stopped by transit officer, they have a smart ticket and will tell them to pay at teh end of journy (The full fare will then be payable). Of course , they will not pay at end and simply walk off station.

So I assume to touch readers on trains? and therefore most midday travel between suburban trains will now be free once Opal rolled out across network?

Cheers

Glenn

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