Call for crackdown on train fare cheats
Free riders on public transport are costing Auckland at least $1.5 million a year – yet ticket inspectors have little power to act if they catch someone who hasn’t paid.
The only power Transdev’s ticket inspectors have is to trespass offenders, which bans them from using the network. Fare evaders can be fined $150, but only with intervention by the police.
Transport Blog spokesman Matt Lowrie says it is common to prosecute and issue fines to offenders in other parts of the world and that should be introduced here.
That Auckland hasn’t done so is a ‘‘reflection of our lack of development in the public transport system for decades,’’ he says.
‘‘There needs to be leadership to drive the issue forward with the Government.
We need to have it and get on with it.’’
Last month Transdev introduced a three-month trial in which ticket inspectors wear small cameras enabling them to issue network bans to fare evaders.
It also allows them to gather video footage that will be used as evidence for police prosecutions.
Further change is coming, albeit slowly.
Auckland Transport has supplied the Government with draft legislation which would allow ticket inspectors to issue fines. The Statutes Amendment Bill is now before a select committee and would enable Auckland Transport to ask the commissioner of police to appoint AT representatives as enforcement officers. They could then issue the $150 fines.
Lowrie says it’s too easy for people to give excuses to ticket inspectors, who let them off.
‘‘It doesn’t provide a good look for other users, it annoys people who have paid.
‘‘Everyone using the service should pay a fair price to use it.
Police say fare evasion is linked to other crime.
Mt Wellington Senior Sergeant Graeme Porter says the prospect of a free ride is attractive to criminals looking to get around.
‘‘There is a correlation between fare evasion and crime,’’ he says.
There have been a series of robberies near train stations and other antisocial behaviour in cen- tral Auckland that police are concerned about, he says.
Police will be routinely riding trains and monitoring train stations to crack down on a range of crime.
Transdev general manager Terry Scott says figures on fare evasion fluctuate.
But there has been some increase since the AT Hop card system was introduced, he says.
‘‘Every incidence of route crime is reported to the police,’’ a Transdev spokesperson says.
‘‘Obtaining a crime number on each occasion ensures that the police can see the number of incidents occurring on the rail network in Auckland.’’
Auckland Transport spokesman Mark Hannan says the transport body started work on the draft legislation last year and is in talks with the Government about having it introduced, he says.
‘‘At the moment it’s with the Government and it’s up to them. ‘‘We can’t set the fines, they do.’’ A Transport Ministry spokesman says the select committee is due to report back on the bill on October 16.
‘‘Any additional legislation addressing issues with the enforcement of public transport fare evasion must be carefully considered, as it potentially entails giving people powers which are typically reserved for law enforcement.’’
Fare problem: Police monitor the Sylvia Park train station.