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.

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