Metlink cracks down on fare dodgers

Kapi-Mana News - - FRONT PAGE - DAMIAN GE­ORGE

Wellington’s pub­lic trans­port sys- tem could be los­ing mil­lions of dol­lars a year be­cause of rail pas­sen­gers dodg­ing fares.

Pub­lic trans­port provider Metlink has an­nounced it will in­tro­duce ran­dom ticket check­points on some train ser­vices, in an ef­fort to put a stop to po­ten­tial lost earn­ings for Greater Wellington Regional Coun­cil.

With in­ter­na­tional bench­mark fig­ures show­ing 5 to 10 per cent of com­muters do not pay for their fares, a coun­cil spokes­woman said that num­ber could be as much as $5 mil­lion a year.

‘‘At the mo­ment, we don’t know [how much we are los­ing], which is why we are con­duct­ing this ex­er­cise.’’

The sus­tained loss of earn­ings could mean law-abid­ing cus­tomers hav­ing to pay in­creased fares, the coun­cil said.

Gen­eral man­ager of pub­lic trans­port Wayne Hastie said the cul­prits were ei­ther not pay­ing for their jour­neys, or trav­el­ling fur­ther than their tick­ets al­lowed.

Us­ing the in­ter­na­tional bench­mark, those peo­ple could be cost­ing the coun­cil $2.5m to $5m each year.

The short­fall was made up by oth­ers who funded the ser­vice, such as ratepay­ers, the New Zealand Trans­port Agency and pub­lic trans­port users.

‘‘Ticket rev­enue helps fund the rail ser­vice and con­trib­utes to the up­keep of our rail in­fras­truc­ture, which in­cludes main­te­nance of trains and sta­tions.

‘‘It helps keep the con­tri­bu­tion from rates down, and also keeps the fares af­ford­able.’’

Metlink will place tem­po­rary bar­ri­ers at the end of sta­tion plat­forms dur­ing the checks, and pas­sen­gers will be asked to show their tick­ets be­fore ex­it­ing.

Any­one who has not paid the cor­rect amount will be asked to pay by cash, or di­rected to an eft­pos ma­chine.

‘‘Check­ing tick­ets pe­ri­od­i­cally is good busi­ness sense, and [some­thing] which many other busi­nesses do to en­sure that cus­tomers have paid for goods,’’ Hastie said.

‘‘We will try and make this process as quick as pos­si­ble.’’

The coun­cil could not con­firm when the ini­tia­tive would start, or how many sta­tions would be tar­geted.

There were a to­tal of 12.8 mil­lion rail pas­sen­ger trips last year.

PHOTOS: ROSS GI­B­LIN\FAIR­FAX

Metlink will in­tro­duce ran­dom ticket check­points on some train ser­vices.

"It’s fair enough. The ques­tion would be whether it’s worth it for them to pay the staff to find enough peo­ple do­ing it.’’

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