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Combating Fare evasion

Rail patronage has been growing well in recent months but something that a lot of people have also noticed is that fare evasion also appears to be on the rise. This seems to be the result of more and more people realising the chance of getting caught without a ticket is low and even if they do get caught, the ticket inspectors are powerless to do anything. This is especially the case for school kids who can’t be kicked off a train as if they were, they or their parents quickly go to the media accusing AT/Transdev of endangering them by making them get off at an unfamiliar station.

An official figure I’ve seen says that fare evasion is currently at 11% although anecdotal evidence suggests even that seems like it could be on the light side. That is extremely high and obviously needs to be addressed. I see there being two types of fare evader:

  • Those who are determined to evade their fares and probably wouldn’t ride the train if they had to pay.
  • Those who are happy to pay for their fare but don’t exactly go out of their way to do so and therefore often end up avoiding paying even if it wasn’t fully intended.

There is very little that can be done about the first group and even cities that fully gate their systems still have problems with them however there probably aren’t that many that fall into this category. The second group are opportunists, are far more common amongst those that fare evade and the group that can addressed. To me there are a few options AT/Transdev has for doing this.

  • Go back to having tickets checked on every train
  • Improve current enforcement measures including penalties
  • Make it harder to fare evade by gating more stations

So let’s work through these

Go back to having tickets checked on every train

This is an idea I’ve heard a few people say over the last year and a half of HOP being in existence. The thinking is that it would ensure everyone has a ticket checked on every train, thereby eliminating some of the opportunist evaders. The problem with this is approach is that in the months before HOP, fare evasion was also extremely high and that was happening simply because often the trains were simply too busy for all tickets to be checked so those on inner stations were often getting free rides anyway. It also doesn’t solve the problem of what happens when someone is found without a valid ticket and the last thing I would want to see is staff having to lug around cash to sell paper tickets. Lastly it’s a solution that simply doesn’t scale, post electrification we have been promised increased frequencies, especially off peak, and having additional staff on every train would cost a huge amount of money, probably more than the fare evasion it would solve.

In my opinion this simply won’t work

Improve current enforcement measures including penalties

To me the current system of having roaming groups of ticket inspectors and random station checks is a decent idea but I find them too sporadic. Of course even worse is that they are basically toothless. They are meant to issue a $20 penalty fare if someone is found without a valid ticket but there is no way for them to enforce that and very few people have every paid one. That may be able to be addressed by Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4) which includes this clause to change the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009. I’ve bolded the key part.

47 Section 46 amended (Functions and powers of Auckland Transport acting as local authority or other statutory body)

(1)Repeal section 46(1)(b).

(2)In section 46(1)(d), replace “sections 591, 591A, and 684” with “section 591”.

(3)Replace section 46(1)(f) with:

“(f)the functions and powers of an enforcement authority under the Land Transport Act 1998 in relation to prosecuting infringement offences under that Act that relate to—

“(i)the use of special vehicle lanes within Auckland:
“(ii)a failure to pay a public transport service fare:”.

(4)In section 46(3), replace “subsection (1)(f)” with “subsection (1)(f)(i)”.

Note: the current legislation already allows for the prosecution of special vehicle lanes so the PT fare is the addition. I’m not sure how long this will take or how it would actually be enforced.

Make it harder to fare evade by gating more stations

Currently something like 70% of trips begins or ends at Newmarket and the gates act to ensure most people have paid. The problem is that a decent number of trips, especially on the Western Line, begin and end somewhere other than those stations and the most common of these are Henderson, New Lynn and Grafton. To me the most effective way we will cut down on fare evading by opportunists will be to gate more stations.

Some people like to suggest we should gate every single station however that is likely to be practical from a cost perspective. A better approach is going to be to gate the key destination stations, the ones that lots of people are going to or from. The benefit of doing that would be that it costs less while probably picking up over 95% of all trips. This also appears to be the approach being taken Auckland Transport and I’ve obtained a list of when we can expect stations to be gated although it is subject to change. It will see 8 more stations gated over the next two years.

Rail Network Gating

With a combination of the enhanced enforcement and extra gating I suspect it should help to really reduce the amount of fare evading going on.

105 comments to Combating Fare evasion

  • simon

    Yes more roving inspectors and increase the penalty.I got my hop card which has stored value on it for when I go outside zonr

  • simon

    Its a hop monthly zone a plus stored value

  • Ted E

    I’d like to see a lower fare across the board and then there is less to be gained by avoidance and that should breed a greater number of willing patrons. Simple fare of say $2per section with a max of say $5 and that significantly decrease the road congestion, simplify fares to readily paid cash and greatly increase patronage to cover the subsidy so that within a reasonable period the gross subsidy per trip would be radically reduced.

  • San Luca

    As someone who has fallen in the category of “Those who are happy to pay for their fare but don’t exactly go out of their way to do so and therefore often end up avoiding paying even if it wasn’t fully intended” can I say that the major thing that I noticed was that the clippies didn’t pay enough attention. There have been times where I was the only one at the station, get on the train through the door that the train manager was operating sit down and the train manager never even came to me. I know someone who would just look out the window so when the clippies would come around they would automatically assume he had paid, just because he was looking out the window.

    I don’t think the system should rely solely on the honesty of the passenger.

    • DavidO

      The honesty of the passenger ought to be something the system can rely on…

    • DavidO

      Let me put it a different way. When we figured out from the Hop cards that our kids weren’t paying we made sure that they knew we weren’t happy about it and that they were expected to use their cards every time whether they thought they could get away with paying or not, and whether or not all the other kids were paying or not. (Of course we are paying – the cards are linked to our bank account – not our kids, in case you get the wrong idea).

      I really don’t see what is wrong with expecting and relying on honesty on the part of customers, while also putting systems in place to make it easy to pay and to catch fare dodgers!

  • simon w

    In the first instance AT needs to ensure that people can actually buy tix/top up their hop card. I’ve said this many times on this blog but all too often the fix machines don’t work or don’t work for specific purposes. I.e can top up but can’t buy tix (vice versa) or accept cash but not eftpos (and vice versa). Moreover, there is the farcial situation with many tix machined being unable to work in full sunlight. This leads to what I would call the legitimate non payment of PT use. I myself have been forced to use the train because of being unable to either top up or buy a ticket. In fact, approx 3 weeks ago I attempted to top up at 3 separate stations, without success (GI,Baldwin ave, glen eden). IMO AT needs to sort these issues before they attempt to ramp up the pursuit of fare evaders.

    • I travelled to Britomart by train last month, and noticed the ticket machines were only accepting HOP cards on all Western Line platform 1′s, but were accepting all forms of payment on all platform 2′s along the line. So all the citybound non-HOP card users were having to board without payment. It’s not their fault, and they shouldn’t be required to refrain from boarding. Ratepayers and taxpayers pay for the service and should be allowed to board with or without paying, if paying is made difficult or impossible, which it often is.

      I wonder if overheads have actually decreased under the new system (which is what the new system was justified for), or have they increased? Staff costs haven’t changed much, but the cost of maintaining the machines and systems is high. I suspect they are spending more now than under the old system. Possibly may go even higher if they have to bring in more security staff and technology to try and combat the onboard problems and evasion that the new system has led to. We could end up with a very expensive system indeed.

  • Ted E

    I feel that the low income areas of Auckland, mothers with children etc that have no other means of getting about than by walking or PT are grossly disadvantage in today’s suburbs with the supermarket and big box stores being car oriented so we should make their fare paying easier and as hassle free as possible. Children fares could be looked at as a means of trying to control their often unruly behavior with greater supervision by a connected adult through a fare connection.

    • Best way for that (and it is trying to be addressed in the Unitary Plan) is get supermarkets inclusive of Town and Metropolitan Centres which are meant to be within very easy reach of a public transport system.
      Ironically if you draw a 800 metre radius around the Manukau Station and proposed Interchange you catch a mall, big box retail, and a supermarket (within the mall itself). The only catch is pedestrian links currently stink and need a heck of a load of improvement.

      As for child fares – shouldn’t exist (nor Tertiary) under integrated fares. Two fares: Standard and Super Gold as the fares would be low enough not to need a differentiation between Adult and Child. Yes still have farecaps yes still have day and family passes but for heavens sakes KISS!

      • jjay

        Yay Ted E ! And yes the pedestrian links to the shopping precinct in Manukau from the new station are poor … ……..when they built the station the council (I think it was the council) had the option to track it further to close to the mall …but the additional cost was decided to not be worth it ……..compare it to Sylvia park where the train is actually quite close to the shopping precinct ……

        • jjay

          Yes to Ted E .in relation to the ease of getting to a supermarket ! And in recent years the local Progressive supermarket in Manurewa closed – this was located in Southmall about 2 miins from the train …..and was actually a good well staffed supermarket ………In the end they rebuilt quite a significant distance away and not that easy to walk to from a train anymore ……nor a bus ……..
          There seems no incentive to revitalise the local Southmall which is so close to the Manurewa station (and bus interchange)- instead new shopping complexes are popping up many in places it is a lot harder to get to without a car ……..and I think that is never factored in when a new set of shops is built
          Not so sure about the child fare ….can I guess be unruly but actually many of the kids and schoolkids are actually pretty good – and often more inclined to give up seats etc to older people or those with little kids/bumps than adults too in my experience

      • Except Ben, what chance of having such low fares? I can’t ever imagine AT introducing a round of fare decreases. Especially when they have to increase farebox recovery from 26% to 45% (or whatever the figures were given as).

        Now if they got rid of all the electronic ticketing equipment and background systems, and got rid of the staff and contractors who administer and maintain the ticketing system, and all the staff who research, plan and implement fare changes and sort the income, you would free up (tens of?) millions per year that could otherwise go straight to direct operating costs of the trains. Make up the rest from rates and just go with a free PT network for Auckland.

        • Auckland’s farebox recovery ratio is *already* 45% on the buses. The New Network would take it comfortably over the required 50%, assuming that it results in at least 10% patronage growth. It is low on the trains but only because of the horrifically high opex of the existing fleet. The EMUs are much cheaper to run however, and will generate stacks more patronage and fare revenue at the same time. So there isn’t any need for fare increases (or infrastructure investment) to achieve the required FFR.

          Hop generates income from the cash float. If you got rid of it all you would lose that income, you would also have to employ more people to collect fares, you would slow down buses with cash handling and need to buy more buses and employ more drivers (or rather, with hop you can do more service runs with the same number of buses and drivers).

          They are doing Hop because it is cheaper than manual fare collection, it’s that simple. Getting rid of it would cost millions per year, not the opposite.

          • I’m not convinced it’s cheaper at all. On the trains, it looks to be a higher cost system, with staff costs little changed, but equipment costs much greater, and evasion up significantly. Whilst on the buses it’s about the same. Instead of waving a pass in front of the driver, we have cards being waved in front of a reader. People buying with cash is unchanged, still purchasing their ticket from the driver. But we do have all that equipment purchased at great cost, that will forever need to be maintained.

            It’s hard to see where any savings have been made.

          • Luke C

            Even if it did cost the same AT HOP is already light years ahead, and this is still while it is a ‘dumb’ card, will be quite different when AT add increasing functionality such as daily caps, as well as when integrated ticketing kicks in which the card enables. You may prefer to use cash to buy 3 paper tickets for a short trip across town, but you’ll probably be the only one.

          • I use the HOP card Luke.

            I’m not sure it could be called a smart card though, as it can’t even do the basic function of re-calculating fares. I.e., Britomart to Swanson would be the same price no matter how many stops you make along the way with a smart card, but HOP increases the cost with each stop due to that inability to re-calculate like a smart card.

          • It certainly can recalculate fares, however the fare policy is still based on single trips. Won’t be that way for long however.

  • CW

    Ticket office at GI, problem solved by 60%.

    • Loraxus

      What a horribly condescending attitude.

      • Tamaki

        I don’t think GI is a big problem. A lot of kids who get on and off there are from AGGS and St Paul’s, so they transfer through britomart anyway. Kids who get off there to go to sacred heart probably are a problem. But a phone call to the school and a teacher on the platform now and again would solve that. Likewise kings college kids who ride on the eastern and southern line. From a security point of view a staff presence in the area would be good. Thats just the reality unfortunately.

  • Alan

    The idea of gating more stations was interesting to me. I’m actually studying my PhD in Applied Maths, looking at public transport problems (I’m from Auckland, but moved to Australia 13 months ago). In this case, the challenge is to get the maximum increase in fare patronage, with the minimum expenditure on gating stations.

    If people are interested, I could whip something up in Excel (and then share it online) that would mathematically and optimally work out which stations should be gated, to maximize return. All I’d really need was a table showing the number of people going from and to any station (now that we have Hop cards, such tables must surely exist?) and the approximate cost of gating a station.

    • Wouldn’t you need some data on where people who don’t pay are going to and from?

      • Alan

        Possibly. I was going to assume that those who evaded fares had the same travel patterns as those who paid (partly cause that data might exist) and partly cause I was targeting those who would pay if it wasn’t so easy not too (instead of those who never will).

        • Sure that would be the first step, which I assume they have already done. It’s not difficult to look at the ticketing data and see where passengers, in general, board and alight in the greatest numbers.

          The flip side is that not all stations are created equal.Some are simple to gate, others very complex and expensive. An additional factor is the operating cost of gates, particularly that they need at least one staff member on site at all times. One new gated station requires about three new full time staff members to monitor it. That alone would need to recover several hundred ‘lost’ trips every day to be worthwhile, remembering that some evaders would simply not travel if they were forced to pay.

          My guess is the list above captures just about all trips at one end or the other, and gating many more would be fairly futile. If not, maybe Glen Eden, Glen Innes, Ellerslie, Papatoetoe and Manurewa would round out the rest.

  • simon

    Still no excuse.Buy a hop card stored value or hop monthly and buy a ticket and play fair.

  • Hey Matt presumably you meant to write: ’70% of journeys start or end at BRITOMART or Newmarket’?

  • Greg N

    The two biggest issues with fare evasion I see are:

    1. Reduces PT numbers from official statistics which makes the numbers using PT lower than they are, which is quite important to capture accurately now with the CRL start date depending on it still
    2. Reduces fare box recovery so looks like PT costs more per passenger than it really does

    The effect of enforcement is like speeding – helps keep the 80% who are basically honest on the right side of the law. so its an 80/20 rule – do 80% of the job for 20% of the cost of what 100% enforcement would cost/achieve..

    While it won’t do anything for the renegades who I expect go out of their way to avoid paying and in fact, pride them selves on not paying.
    If we make it too hard for them to ride for free are we going to see people hanging on the side of the trains or worse on the roof! with all the attendant risks and accidents and deaths that will result? All for the want of trying to get the thrill of a free train ride?

    So while extreme enforcement might seem like a good idea it won’t pay financially for AT, or in wider societal terms either.

    Gating the main stations is probably the 20% solution (the stick). Having said that I’ve seen a few gate vaulters at Newmarket and no-one seems to bother, so how effective will gates be really? Do we need enclosed 6ft high ones that can’t be vaulted?

    The other one (the fat juicy carrot) is to make it so much easier to pay that most don’t even think about trying to avoid it. And that comes down to fare structures, integrated pricing and capped daily/weekly/monthly fare structures.

    • Logan

      People riding on the roof of electrified trains seems like a problem that takes care of itself.

      • Greg N

        Ah yes it will, as it will for the graffiti types who climb live poles to tag them.
        But it will *all* be AT’s fault when it happens – you know the story, anguished parents saying they allowed little jimmy to go to town to meet his friends, and he lost his HOP card and look what happens – kentucky fried jimmy, shame on you AT.

  • Greg N

    Just a thought. you know how folks who use the parking meters can txt a park from their mobile now (which ends up on their phone bill)?
    Why not allow Txt a ticket – either directly to your smartphone (no paper ticket), or use the printer already in any existing Parking meter?

    Only issue for this idea is that currently you TXT your parking meter number only which then tells the machine to print a ticket based on what you’ve entered on the front panel.
    But why not allow you to simply TXT your meter number plus how many stages you want to the same number.

    The meter then prints a ticket out for the number of fare stages you wanted – which you can show the bus driver. Yep its not an “AT PT ticket” but its from an AT controlled machine.

    Better than people not paying a fare now..

    Yes its 50 cents dearer than paying cash, but would be a cheap/easy to use method if you don’t have cash but have a phone and are near a machine (and in the CBD and surrounds who is not near a parking meter?).

    Hmm, might be an idea for the upcoming CivicHackathon – come up with a way to allow people to buy tickets using the own mobile phones (both dumb and smart phones) rather than AT having to put dedicated PT ticket printing hardware everywhere.

  • westie

    The school kids in Ranui ‘buy’ super gold tickets until the machine runs out of paper. Then you can only use the machine to top up a Hop card, and only if it’s networked. Some days even if there is paper, it won’t take bank cards or cash. The system has many weaknesses.

    • Bryce P

      You can buy a ‘super gold’ ticket without ID?

      • Steve D

        Yes, the machine just spits it out. You need to show the gold card along with the ticket when it gets inspected at the gate line, or by an inspector. But not to print the piece of paper.

        • Bryce P

          That’s madness. So we need to get all Super Gold Card holders on to HOP asap and ditch that fare option from the machines. Next problem….

          • harminder

            Wouldn’t it be possible to make the Super Gold Card a HOP card, like the one in Singapore? http://www.ecitizen.gov.sg/Topics/Pages/Senior-citizen-concession-card-for-cheaper-bus-and-train-rides.aspx

          • Steve D

            @harminder:

            If HOP-compatible systems get rolled out nationally, that would be great. But at the moment, Christchurch has their own system, Wellington has a mish-mash of incompatible cards, and Whangarei is just installing Snapper. We’d need NZTA to standardise the whole thing.

            I guess it would be possible to make the Gold Card a HOP: it already serves a third of the population, after all. But it doesn’t do anything for card-holders in other cities.

          • Steve D

            @Bryce:

            Limiting the gold card discount to HOP means that visitors from other cities can’t use it. Another reason why we should get NZTA to throw its weight around and demand a single, standard smartcard system nationally.

            I’m also not sure if councils are even allowed to restrict the discount in that way. AFAIK they are required to provide the discount for anyone who has a card, including for one-off trips.

          • Bryce P

            So if you’re a Gold Card holder and you’re visiting Auckland, go to the ticket office just like any other visitor or pay the normal fare. This has to work for the greater part of the city first and foremost. Yes, you’re right about what NZTA should do but it appears it’s not going to happen. Oh well.

          • Steve D

            Bryce:

            What ticket office? Only a handful of stations have ticket offices. The machines are everywhere, and they should provide every service you can get at the ticket office. I mean, they don’t at the moment, but they should.

            I’m also not sure what problem you’re trying to solve by taking Gold Card tickets away. Bored kids printing out all the paper?

            After doing a little research, it would be permissible for AT, though. Otago restricts the free travel to “GoCard” holders.

          • Bryce P

            Not if you can buy a ticket that should need verification, but doesn’t. If Auckland Gold Card users are on HOP then they have their cards verified as such. If kids are able to buy a super gold card ticket, and there is little chance of them getting caught, then the system isn’t working.

          • Steve D

            Bryce:

            There’s the same chance of them getting caught whether they ride the train with a super gold ticket, or with no ticket. If they present a super gold ticket, the inspector is still going to ask them to show the actual gold card*. If there’s no inspector, then it doesn’t matter even if they have no ticket.

            The ticket does need verification, and it gets that verification in every situation where the ticket itself gets verified.

            (* or realistically, since they’re not going to look anywhere near 65, just chuck them off the train.)

          • Bryce P

            Yeah. I’ve got to admit I don’t know the process as I don’t have a Super Gold Card

          • Steve D

            Hell, I’m not eligible for a gold card until 2052. I think I’ve gotten a bit of a handle on the system, though. Since I seem to end up helping baffled pensioners use the ticket machine every couple of weeks. Maybe because I tend to catch the train just after 9am, when the gold card kicks in?

          • Bryce P

            My mum has a HOP card and gold card. She just had her HOP card set up with her Gold Card status from the start.

          • jjay

            our local papers “letters to the editor” have recently had a few regarding gold card – including
            helpful tips from someone who was having issues with the machines etc and was telling others how
            to get a HOP card to try and get over some of the issues they were discussing ……I think the education around it has been a bit lacking from AT to users …….might have benefited from some GOLD card help people on each of the stations getting people signed up for HOP cards etc ……

    • dpalenski

      Well the SuperGold card does have strip on the back like a bank card maybe require it to be inserted before a ticket is issued

  • UDA

    There seems to be one glaring omission on the graphic highlighting gated stations – Papakura. This is one of the busiest stations and excluding Pukekohe is the final southern destination on the network. While recognising that the recently developed station is 100% better than what it was (albeit the location and design of the bus interchange makes for a particularly unplesaant pedestrian environment), it seems odd that despite high patronage it would not have been designed with gates and an enclosed over bridge particularly considering there is park and ride facilities on either side of the railway lines. Gating Papakura and eventually Pukekohe and Manurewa would capture significant fare evading in this southern part of the network as a lot of people i have observed tend to take 3 or 4 stop trips on this corridor i.e. Homai, manurewa, middlemore to papakura or vice versa. As alluded to above on such short trips you are less likely to be be picked up by ticket inspectors and people know it.

  • Peter

    NO, there should be no penalty law and there should not even be ticket inspectors kicking people of trains when there ticket machines do not work half the time at more remote stations, and tag on/off posts/ticket machines don’t even work when theirs a power outage, they should be backed up by UPS, but yeah any track side point of sale machines NEED to WORK and there needs to be a clause in that law that states so, otherwise the customers are NOT protected whatsoever from being walked over when there’s nothing they can do to pay, despite having cash or eftpos with avail funds; which has happened to me on several occasions, my hop card was randomly disabled last week and they said they didn’t know why and couldn’t re-enable it since they “don’t have access to their own database”, which sounds very ludicrous to me, someone who works with database software all the time. I know transdev or any other transport company isn’t at fault for AT’s failures, but AT should take responsibility and pay transdev for the fare or someone when their system isn’t working, be it AT hop or machines etc, or maybe even thales? but seriously, how is it the customers fault, its just creating a bad image for PT. I get there are real fare evaders and they should be made to pay somehow, but this is not the way unless all the ticket machines work without fail, perhaps add more of them for redundancy, and the UPS thing I mentioned earlier is a must for each station. Plus I find that 11% figure hard to believe, I’ve been on several trains where the Ticket Inspectors say amongst themselves that everyone they checked paid.

    • Roger W

      Ever reported a faulty machine?

      I have, and then didn’t follow the instructions because I never saw an inspector.

      “Thanks for telling us”
      “When you board, find an inspector”
      “Ask for a permit to travel”
      “Tell them why”

      Not hard.
      But I suspect you’d bury the inspectors in people.
      Also of note, that was at Ellerslie. They didn’t have that one, but did have SEVEN other stations noted with faulty ticketing at that time.

      • Peter

        Yes, I have reported one, it wasn’t fixed until 6 days later, and was told the whole story of finding the ticket inspector and asking for a permit to travel and to seek him/her out not wait for them to come to me etc, since then I stopped bothering, public transport shouldnt be that hard and what happens with all the people, especially students, who either dont have enough cell phone credit/didnt pay there cell bill or dont even have a cell phone, its not like its an 0800 number. But yeah, calling them wouldnt of helped my disabled hop card issue either, since they cant re-enable them lol! There should be backups, and on stations that arnt in the middle (side platforms) there should be at least 2 per side, you cant expect older or disabled folk to walk all the way around to the other side to *hopefully* get a ticket (I say hopefully because that ones probably out too). I have had this happen to me in New Lynn (nobody was at ticket booth either), Glen Eden, Avondale, Mt Albert, Grafton, Newmarket (nobody was at ticket booth either due to time), Papakura (ticketbooth closed as well due to being sunday…), Sturges Road (didnt bother checking the other side though, at the time I was pretty worn out that day and train was 5 mins out, final service), Greenlane. The only time I dont seem to have issues is at britomart, and why? because they have tonnes of redundancy, I think there are 3 machines at the top entrance before the stairs and 2 more down the first set of stairs.

  • UDA

    sorry that should read Papatoetoe not ‘pukekohe’ as a priority for gating.

  • Bryce P

    Western line gated stations (suggestion) – Mt Albert, New Lynn, Henderson.

  • lefty

    IMO the only thing that works is to make it convenient to pay. Ticket machines and HOP card topups at all train stations and all bus interchanges. Simple cash fares on bus (round coins only – so $2 or $3, and no change given) and from ticket machines. Make sure HOP is cheap enough that you start saving money almost immediately after purchase (e.g. cost of daily ticket gets you a HOP).

    Make sure the machines are well maintained and that there’s more than one to handle where they inevitably need work. Make sure that work is done as soon as possible.

    If you make it easy, most people will pay. Don’t worry about the ones that won’t too much.

  • Chris S

    I find it comical that there is no way for them to enforce fare penalties. I grew up in Germany, and even when I was a kid the penalty was DM20 (would have probably been around $20 then), which of course was raised over the years and is now EUR40 (roughly $65). This IS enforced and you can either pay in cash or get an invoice sent to your home address if you carry an ID card with address with you.
    They don’t check tickets that often over there (my rough guess would be around 20% of the time), but the penalty is high enough that they don’t seem to catch that many people without a ticket.
    I’m not saying the penalty fares here should be $65, but at least they should be enforceable.

    • exaucklanderinsydney

      $200 here in Sydney, although I think maybe 10% of my trips get checked (at least that’s my perception). It could be higher in some areas, as both stations I use are gated. I’m astounded councils in NZ can issue all sorts of fines (ie parking) but nothing for PT.

  • exaucklanderinsydney

    I think they got those stations right, except I’m surprised about Mt Albert instead of Papatoetoe and/or Manurewa and Papakura. I think the south looks woefully open, and probably the highest rates of fare evasion. Papakura shoulda have taken priority over Mt Albert. I do recognise that Mt Albert is brand new and easy to gate and Papakura is more difficult to gate.

    • I think it’s more to do with how many people are getting off at certain stations rather than an overall boarding number. From the data I’ve seen most of the trips on the Southern/Eastern lines is headed to Britomart whereas the Western line there’s far more local trips.

      • Precisely, it’s where as many people get off as on. Mt Albert is a destination station due to the proximity to Unitec. That combined with the fact it has just been rebuilt with gates in mind make it a good candidate: cheap to install and likely to capture a lot of trips.

        • tuktuk

          Yes Mt Albert is a great place for gates and indeed a kiosk or ticket office. Also, the local catchment area means that it has the potential to become the focus for some good quality large scale transit oriented commercial and residential property development in future. This would be in addition to the brilliant catchment of Unitec, both current and potential.

          Looking at Melbourne, Nunawading railway station is perhaps quite a good example of where Mt Albert and other centres right through the Auckland rail network could aim for right now. There is an important intersection with a large arterial road, it is a good connection point for local buses, there is a good collection of local shops within what is a very suburban standalone housing zone, and a modest park and ride. The 24 hour (…certainly from dawn till late) staffed kiosk/gates/ticket office is right beside the road at the entrance. You go down the stairs to the platform. Brightly illuminated, with good architecture, and most importantly with gates and staff, it feels safe and is a focal point. Looking at Melbourne, it would be interesting to see what ratio of stations are gated and staffed, gated and completely open.

          • And electrification completely alters the desirability of properties adjacent to the line and the stations in particular. The removal of the noise and horrible fumes of the current diesels plus the significant increase in frequency and hours possible with the EMUs basically upscales the value of these properties. Those single story shops between Mt Albert Rd and the line should be replaceable with mixed use retail plus apartments soon. The numbers will surely stack up. Lucky land owner; in for a windfall.

          • Linz

            Plus when the CRL is built it will be 10 or so minutes from town. My God how I wish I had a few spare million to buy up residential land along this corridor.

          • tuktuk

            Oh Phil, you can’t help yourself aye…… so, how is this as a good case study:

            Where would you rather buy a residential property for sale at full current market value –
            Overlooking or adjacent to Wellington’s Basin Reserve flyover and associated tunnel works(Mt Vic or Haitaitai side) that make up Wellington’s very own RoNS?
            Or, Kingsland, Mt Albert or any of a range of suburbs along the new electric Western rail corridor?

            Remember, we’re not talking about existing market value here, we’re talking about best long term property investment growth. Pretty definite right answer there, don’t you agree? And even in “petrol-head” NZ, a historical precedent has already been set with wealthy “premium” suburbs overlooking the railway tracks along the Johnsonville line.

  • jodie

    Well sometimes I’d say there is real concern from parents regarding your top comment actually:
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/9716986/Girl-left-stranded-at-station
    I don’t think this child intended not to pay in the slightest actually ! And given the age of the child in question
    actually quite a concern for the parents it happened at all ! It would be enough to make me as a parent decide that PT was not suitable for my child at all ……….

    Yes I agree with the commenter they probably need to gate South stations ……..at some stage ..and it should help fare evasion …

    Would actually help though if their ticket machines were in better order most of the time – from those
    who use them regularly I get a LOT of stories about them not working – and not just once or twice
    but something of a regular occurrence …………..not to mention more place you can buy a HOP card and better customer and infrasructure services to make it really easy to pay …..in short before they invest in punitive measures invest in making sure their systems are working well ………..I think they have a way to go on that score.

  • Waspman

    This is a horribly flawed fare system with many negative consequences. AT were determined to get rid of ticket sales from trains because it in the end will eliminate staff.

    The current system has been exploited to the max by people with criminal tendencies. They now see train staff as disempowered and to them trash who are beyond contempt. The 12 year old girl who was rightfully asked off at Puhinui for not paying to be on the train only to be offered compensation for the hurt caused only exacerbated the problem infinitely. This proved beyond a doubt that ticket inspectors are similarly impotent and anyone who travels these trains and watches interaction with fare evaders sees there is nothing the inspectors can do either. In short it is no surprise given the inability of train staff to do their job that there are assaults.

    The very same people who routinely avoid payment are also likely to vandalise trains and harass and victimise other passengers.

    The ticket machines are slow and are easily vandalised and put out of action so what is going to be done here?

    Now the genie is out of the bottle its a very tough fix. Gating all stations is an absolute minimum but similarly platforms should be manned because who is going to stop gates been jumped over anyway and who will sell tickets when the machines are inevitably out of action?

    Train staff need legislative powers of detainment and to demand accurate personal details of evaders, in other words almost police like powers or how else are they going to enforce fares? And will they want to do that job that requires such coercion?

    You have to feel sorry for honest people because they and the rate payers are covering for this monumental stuff up. Heads should roll but I bet they wont!

    • If staff are getting assaulted now, what do you think will happen if they try to issue an infringement notice to one of these thugs? My guess is we’ll start seeing staff deaths rather than mere assaults. And it would be most unfortunate if we end up with a tiered system of issuing infringement notices to “nice” people whilst ignoring the thugs out of fear.

      As you say, the genie is out of the bottle. I said the new system would fail and it has. There are now no solutions that will solve these problems whilst still achieving the originally envisioned level of lower operating costs. Whatever is done from now on will ultimately see Auckland’s trains operating at greater cost than pre-HOP.

  • Richard Horner

    In UK they hav designated Railway Police but of course many more trains! I once saw a fare evader get charged an instant fine and thrown off the train at the next station. He would then have a wait for the next train and presumably incur another fare. There was quite an interesting exchange of vocabulary and the evader had dozens of commuters staring at him until the next station came to throw him off.!

    On another occasion we caught at night a 125 from Bath to Didcot and the train was almost empty (opposing the traffic flow). There was nobody at Bath to buy a ticket from (approx 10.00pm) and nobody came through the train. Then at Didcot no barrier exit or ticket collector. What do you do? Post a cheque to the Railway Company? We are not alone with this problem and not all those failing to pay are fare evaders.

  • Steve D

    There’s way more than 11% of private transport users breaking the law. 56% of drivers speed in 50km/h zones, and 25% in 100km/h zones.

    http://www.transport.govt.nz/research/roadsafetysurveys/speedsurveys/2013speedsurveyresultscarspeeds/

    And, since speeding attracts at least a $30 fine, we can say it’s considered about half again as bad as riding the train without a ticket (only a $20 fine).

  • Royce

    We should get rid of the Hop cards and go back to selling tickets on the train. Keep the ticket machines and provide more of them. Tickets on the train would cost more.

    • We finally have a single integrated ticket across all transport modes in Auckland and you want to go backwards??

      I’m personally confident the upcoming law change and gating combined will address the problem.

    • Waspman

      Keep the Hop cards, gate all stations but bring back tickets on to trains. Make the Hop card an incentive for discount and cash fares a disincentive. The old system suffered fare evasion largely on busy trains where there was not enough time for train staff to get to the Orakei/Newmarket/Meadowbank passengers who managed to slip off in all the confusion. The kind of people who wouldn’t spring to mind as your stereotypical fare evaders.

      Fares have to be recovered in anyway possible quite simply to ensure the negative consequences of fare evasion that I spoke of earlier are kept to the bare minimum. And as a ratepayer I expect and demand that our trains system is not a free for all for those who think life is a scam.

      By the way from what I have seen the southern/eastern lines are rife with short trip evaders (1-5 stops type of thing) so the Western line is not alone there.

    • Bryce P

      Keep HOP. Mine works fine and I have auto top up setup. I have queried a couple of fares on the phone with AT and all has been resolved. Need to get more people on HOP. Fare evasion will happen. As long as the major stations are gated this will not be a biggie.

  • Peter

    Yes, I have reported one, it wasn’t fixed until 6 days later, and was told the whole story of finding the ticket inspector and asking for a permit to travel and to seek him/her out not wait for them to come to me etc, since then I stopped bothering, public transport shouldnt be that hard and what happens with all the people, especially students, who either dont have enough cell phone credit/didnt pay there cell bill or dont even have a cell phone, its not like its an 0800 number. But yeah, calling them wouldnt of helped my disabled hop card issue either, since they cant re-enable them lol! There should be backups, and on stations that arnt in the middle (side platforms) there should be at least 2 per side, you cant expect older or disabled folk to walk all the way around to the other side to *hopefully* get a ticket (I say hopefully because that ones probably out too). I have had this happen to me in New Lynn (nobody was at ticket booth either), Glen Eden, Avondale, Mt Albert, Grafton, Newmarket (nobody was at ticket booth either due to time), Papakura (ticketbooth closed as well due to being sunday…), Sturges Road (didnt bother checking the other side though, at the time I was pretty worn out that day and train was 5 mins out, final service), Greenlane. The only time I dont seem to have issues is at britomart, and why? because they have tonnes of redundancy, I think there are 3 machines at the top entrance before the stairs and 2 more down the first set of stairs.

    • Greg N

      You know what I’d do – take a photo of the broken machine on my phone, show it to any ticket inspectors when they turn up – the date and time of the photo and the broken machine should stop any arguments, then they write me a travel permit if they so feel inclined.

      But what a joke these ticket machines are – too precious for use on a railway platform it seems.

      • Peter

        Haha yep, I have done that, I tried showing them and they were like “We dont care, get off here and buy one”, they wouldnt even look at it and I got kicked off at a station with another broken machine, which was greenlane and had to wait in the cold for 30 mins for the next train which was boarded again my different inspectors at middlemore who tried kicking me off too but the Maori warden stepped in and said I it was fine and the inspector backed off.

        • Peter

          Correction: boarded again by different inspectors*

        • jjay

          well done to that warden ! Wish that little 12 year old girl had had someone looking out for her in the same way !

        • Greg N

          Well I’d stand up to them and demand they give me a travel permit, end of story. These Transdev people are not AT employees and have no legal powers of enforcement, morally or otherwise.

          And pity that poor kid – they’d force her off the train
          Of course they no doubt deal with some real smart arse kids who know how to push buttons (in every sense of the word),

          But sometimes, AT and Transdev gotta step back and say maybe the customer is right after all?

  • So, sort the ticket machines. Add more, make them work. Gate the major stations as AT are programmed to do, but add the outstanding Southern Line ones. Introduce random checks with actual penalties, and take the remaining determined freeloaders on the chin.

    Call it a social service, at least these types aren’t driving some dangerous vehicle instead. It would still probably amount to a lower infringement level than is routinely practised by drivers. Especially including cell phone use.

    Trying to get better data on levels of evasion would be useful too, if only so ridership and station counts can be more accurate for planning purposes.

    • George D

      Sort the dastardly machines. Put more machines and more posts on more platforms. Gate more stations. Put sales booths (where you can actually buy an AT HOP card) on more platforms.

      It isn’t very hard to work out.

  • Peter

    Also why 4 gates out west and only 1 on STH (exl brito/newmarket) which is in Otahuhu. The majority of fare evaders I have seen are on STH trains and the odd SE. I think papatoetoe (or puhinui), manurewa and papakura should also be gated to even it out a bit more, those are the busiest down there. But I see maurewa and papakura as quite challenging to gate due to many exits/entries to the platforms, though papakura could just have the central platform gated and the open platform just be used for alighting and services like the northern explorer.

    • Because travel from the south is commuter style and currently very focused on Britomart and Newmarket, most trips are already captured at that end.

      On the western travel is more even along the line.

      • Peter

        I know of people who walk to orakei or remuera to avoid the gates and then go south.

        • exaucklanderinsydney

          If someone’s prepared to walk those kind of distances to avoid gates, then they are what I would consider to be in the hardcore category. Seriously, walking all the way from city to Remuera after work to not pay a fare?

  • Steve D

    Are all of the four entrances at Grafton going to be gated? Up at street level, or some hack like at Britomart where they went on the platforms?

  • Marcus L (Svartmetall)

    In Stockholm fare evasion is a problem – especially with the moment “Planka.nu” that supports free public transport and people pay “insurance” to the group in exchange for the group paying for any penalty fares they incur. So SL (the public transport agency) often block entire station exits at major stations and scan the card of all users leaving the station. They often do this at random times both in rush hour and out of it. It’s pretty effective, but with groups like Planka, one really does run into difficulties. Be thankful there isn’t such a group in Auckland!

  • […] on top of this from Transport Blog: Combating Fare evasion and Should Auckland Transport get out of the parking business? I am wondering if Auckland […]

  • Warren

    ATHop a RipOff,

  • Warren

    Prior to ATHop. I used Urban Express. $100 per month. Once ATHop the fare jumps to $140 per month.

    Now the completed their empire of transport network control – The prices will rise again.
    I would like to know whether central government will rein in the tyrants of transport Auckland Transport, or do we just pay up like lambs to the financial slaughter .

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