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A new Australian study has looked into the complex nature of fare evasion on passenger rail networks, classifying fare evaders into three distinct categories.
New research from Dr Alexa Delbosc and Professor Graham Currie from Monash University’s Department of Civil Engineering responds to a perspective shift toward profiling the fare evader, or understanding the customer motivations to fare evade.
Reviewing past studies from around the globe, and conducting a study of their own on Melbourne’s public transport networks, Delbosc and Currie’s research found that while 20% to 40% of city residents admit to fare evading at some point, their motivations are varied.
The researchers categorised fare evaders into three distinct categories: deliberate, unintentional, and accidental.
Deliberate fare evaders are those who will avoid paying their fare when they view the benefits outweigh the risks.
“Despite making up the lowest percentage of the market, our study in Melbourne found that ‘deliberate’ fare evaders are responsible for the majority fare evasion trips and, by extension, foregone revenue,” Delbosc said.
Unintentional fare evaders are a larger group, but offend less frequently, doing so when they believe their capacity to pay has been made too difficult. Faulty ticket machines and difficult-to-use ticketing systems are examples of the sorts of excuses used by this group.
“We found that ‘unintentional’ evaders are on the fence,” Delbosc explained.
“They want to pay their way but are relatively quick to fare evade if ticketing is made too difficult. Every barrier to easy ticketing – such as complex fare structures, long ticket queues or difficulty ‘topping up’ their smartcard – provides a potential excuse to fare evade in the minds of this group of people.”
Delbosc and Currie’s work looked at creating a demographic profile of those most likely to fare evade, but the researchers point out “this perspective has little use beyond profiling and is ethically questionable”.
Instead, the researchers suggest a combined approach of increased fines for fare evasion – to target the more frequent, deliberate offenders – and new ticketing infrastructure and marketing campaigns – to reduce the amount of unintentional evasion taking place.
The full paper is available here.
This article first appeared on www.railexpress.com.au
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