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Can Cameras reduce fare evasion?

Transdev have announced they are going to trial body mounted cameras in a bid to further lower fare evasion.

Fare evasion is an ongoing issue for public transport throughout the world – and Auckland is no different. Transdev has a team of around 50 Ticket Inspectors checking train customers at stations and on trains to ensure they are travelling with the correct ticket and, as part of their revenue protection efforts, Transdev is committed to a programme of ongoing improvement.

With fare evasion currently between 4 and 5 per cent and revenue lost to fare evasion estimated at almost $1.5 million dollars per year, additional measures are required to make travel costs fairer for everyone.

As a result, Transdev is equipping a small group of Ticket Inspectors with body worn CCTV cameras to use in a three-month operational trial. These Ticket Inspectors will also have ‘Network Bans’ to issue to non-compliant people travelling or attempting to travel on the train.

The use of the cameras and network bans will be evaluated at the end of the trial period, for example

  • What did the public think of the use of the cameras and network bans?
  • Were the cameras and network bans effective in reducing fare evasion rates?
  • Did the cameras influence the behaviour of fare evaders, either positively or negatively?
  • Did staff find the cameras a useful tool?

Additionally it is also anticipated that the cameras will also provide a strong deterrent to anyone considering abusing or assaulting a staff member or other customers in the vicinity.

The cameras will capture high quality audio and video of interactions, and will provide the opportunity to take a still photograph of a fare evader to support a network ban.

The use of the cameras (and footage) will be in full compliance of the Privacy Act 1993 and best practice guidelines set out by the Privacy Commission

From what I’ve noticed fare evasion seems to have been changing in recent months. School kids which were a huge source of evasion seem to be using HOP much more, at least in the mornings. That’s obviously a good thing however I also suspect there’s been an increase in evasion further out on the network. On the western line in particular it seems there are a lot of people making shorter trips e.g. from Henderson to Sturges or Ranui that are not buying tickets. Those people also seem to be becoming more cautious which is perhaps hiding some of the fare evasion. By that I mean they are checking the train before they get on for ticket inspectors and if they see them get on at a station along the way they will get off the train to avoid being checked.

Personally I can’t see cameras or network bans being that effective overall. As it is the chance of seeing a ticket inspector seems fairly small and I often find I will see them in clusters. I get times when it seems I get them on every trip but then I won’t seem them for another month or so. I also wonder what the chances of ticket inspectors remembering each person that’s been filmed without a ticket or banned. Those determined to fare evade will continue to do so.

Whenever the issue of evasion comes up we get a lot of comments about the need to gate stations. One thing to remember in this is the cost of doing so. At $1.5 million a year in fare evasion, gating all stations would cost more the evasion it stops and so there needs to be a balancing act. To me combination of gating key the destination stations along with the roving ticket inspectors dealing with other parts of the network seems to be the right balance. Back in March we revealed AT plan to install gates at another 8 stations over the next few years and that should help immensely. It’s also worth noting that even in systems that are fully gated fare evasion still happens so it isn’t something that will ever be able to be completely eliminated.

Rail Network Gating

51 comments to Can Cameras reduce fare evasion?

  • From the NZ Herald article on this:

    “Although the Land Transport Act provides for spot fines of $150 and court penalties of up to $500 for fare evaders on any form of passenger transport service, that requires police intervention.”

    Wait, all we have to do to impose spot fines for fare evaders under current law is have a police officer go on duty with a couple of the fare inspection teams? We could do that today!

    • Rob Mayo

      I understand the issue is the police not having enough manpower available to accompany ticket inspectors. Oddly, AT have not discussed with the police about part funding a group of officer’s salaries to have them include trains and stations in their patrolling routes. I had a chat with a couple of senior staff from NZ Police Counties-Manukau at a social gathering a few months back and they were quite open to the idea of having officer’s salaries part-funded in this manner. Would be a better ROI than a shuttle bus between Henderson and Britomart…

      • Well the police have a dedicated highway patrol, and they recieve funding from petrol tax for it. Should be simple to create a fare enforcement patrol and have some money from fares go toward fare enforcement. Either that or a transit police division who do fares and security.

        Does anyone know if it would be possible to do some sort of deputiziation of non sworn officers to give then the powers required to issue binding fines?

        • Geoff Blackmore

          You’re comparing policing of something that has a massive death toll with something that by comparison is minor and trivial. No, we should not be having sworn police officers chasing kids around who don’t pay $1.90 train fares, when there’s so much more serious crime going unpoliced. Let’s get the police to show up to burgled homes before worrying about train & bus tickets.

          • I’m suggesting new officers paid for out of ticket revenue, not taking away existing cops to police fare payment. Not inforcing fares won’t create more cops to investigate burglaries!

            Have you ever head of the broken windows theory. Letting kids get away with stealing travel may amount to just petty theft, but it teaches them that they can get away with many things. A culture that respects rule of law requires enforcing the small things as well as the large.

  • Justin

    Redesigning the stations and platforms to require paid fare before accessing trains would surely go a long way to mitigating fare evasion.

    And make them feel safer too.

    • bbc

      That in effect is what happens when they’re gated. Gating all stations is pointless however, the solution is to allow large spots fines to be levied on people without tickets. Until that’s routine no one will take any notice. But as soon as it’s commonplace people won’t risk saving a few bucks but risk a $150 fine.

  • Christopher T

    There was a major ticket inspection going on at New Lynn yesterday around 4:00pm with about 12 ticket inspectors involved. It appears that they were requesting that ticket-free students purchase tickets from the single platform vending machine before allowing them out of the station. It was quite easy to identify the stations the students had travelled from via their school uniforms. At one point there were about fifty odd students milling around the platform, either in the process of buying tickets or, presumably, hoping that the inspectors would depart; others were catching later through trains and disembarking at the next, inspection-free, station. Gating can’t come soon enough.

    • bbc

      It’s only an issue because NZ lacks the legislation to allow meaningful spot fines without a police presence. If you get fined $150 most people won’t be trying it again, it’s not worth it. Swiss and German systems work well without gates but only because of the harsh fines for failing to buy a ticket. Zurich for instance is approximately 80CHF first offence, 180CHF second and 360CHF. When an annual pass is 600CHF, it makes no sense to try and ride for free.

  • Tom Jackson

    Fines won’t deter fare evaders in the same way fines don’t deter boy racers. Fare evaders don’t pay for fares, what makes you think they’ll pay their fines?

    • exaucklanderindydney

      If they don’t pay their fine then so be it, but then they’ll have the MOJ fines enforcement system and courts to deal with. At that point its no longer AT’s concern. A friend of mine refused to pay a few parking tickets for over a year till the court sherrifs gave him 3 days to pay or they’ll take his car. Lets just say it was paid within hours. This was in NZ too

    • Max

      SOME people will never be deterred. But in the large scheme of things, those few don’t matter. It’s the 9% of the 10% (numbers made up) that fare evade but WILL be deterred that are important.

  • So in 18 months 10 key stations will be gated, including the four city destinations. Good to see both Parnell and Grafton there so that can’t be easily used to avoid the two biggest drawcards: Britomart and Newmarket, also they’re both big for students.

    I guess then it becomes a question of whether there is value in gating the busy southern line stations of Manurewa, Papakura, Middlemore, Papatoetoe…?

    • Rob Mayo

      Manurewa is a low-hanging piece of fruit for gating as its straight forward to do (block off the two southern access points and put just one wide gate on either platform) and its strategically placed between Papakura and Manukau / Otahuhu to reduce a lot of the short distance fare evasion that is common on the Southern Line.

      Its not necessary to gate line-ends such as Papakura, and Swanson but I believe it would be worth gating Onehunga as it will become even more of a destination than it is now, for rail service users and like Manurewa would reduce a lot of short distance fare evasion – people getting on at Sylvia Park, Ellerslie, Greenlane etc and not paying for their journey to Dressmart etc. Once Manurewa and Onehunga are gated, the remaining ‘destination’ candidate would be either Middlemore or Papatoetoe. Gating of Manukau in 2014, Henderson / New Lynn / Mount Albert / Panmure / Otahuhu in 2015, Grafton / Manurewa / Onehunga in 2016 and Papatoetoe or Middlemore in 2017 – now there’s an investment plan with a good return.

      Really don’t see any value whatsoever in gating Parnell in 2015. I don’t believe there will be a significant fare evasion hole there until 2017. It will take until 2017 in my opinion for there to be sufficient numbers of fare evaders going through Parnell to justify gates. The money already allocated for the gating of the station as part of its construction budget, would be better transferred and spent gating another station in 2016 – Manurewa for example. There is a far bigger fare evasion problem there than at Parnell.

      • exaucklanderindydney

        I agree, but isn’t it better to gate Parnell at construction?

        • Rob Mayo

          Not in this instance. Parnell is neither an interchange station nor a station that will have significant numbers of people going through it in its first 3-5 years. Make provison for gating sure but gate Parnell later, as has been the case at all major stations in Auckland so far.

          • Rob Mayo

            AT really needs to gate stations more sensibly than its done so far. Newmarket has far too many gates (the side gateline there should be closed in my opinion and relocated to New Lynn – at the Hetana Street end, on-platform) and Manukau has more narrow gates than it needs and one wide gate less than it needs! It would be nice if AT would put its station gateline design plan out for public consultation.

        • Greg N

          I agree, with gating Parnell from the get go, not because of passenger numbers (yet) but for the simple reason as Patrick said earlier, gating at Grafton is needed to avoid fare evaders from out west simply getting off at Grafton, instead of carrying on to Newmarket or Britomart as they really want to do.

          If you now gated Grafton and not Parnell you leave a gaping hole in the “fence” around the CBD stations where anyone going to Britomart sans ticket will simply alight at Parnell.

          You could have masses of ticket inspectors there, but why not gate it to start with and send the message that this is not a back door to the CBD for fare evaders?

          • Rob Mayo

            Unlike an ungated Grafton where its only a short walk down the hill to Newmarket, its fair hike from Parnell to anywhere in the CBD so I really don’t see how an ungated Parnell would be attractive to CBD-bound / CBD-departing fare evaders for the first 3 years of the station’s operating life, especially on windy/rainy days (of which there are many in Auckland as we all know).

          • Patrick R

            -students, Parnell is not about the CBD.

  • mike

    At $1.5 million a year in fare evasion………….well maybe if they make sure the ticket machines work then this figure would be less. a friend of mine managed to travel from sunnyvale to morningside for free cause cash machine was not working and we never got stopped or asked if had ticket.
    everytime i use the train the machine is not working ( and only used the train like 5 times a year as would rather drive till they sort this out)

  • RichardC

    I remember in the 90’s in north east of England, they would name and shame repeat fare evaders. Putting a photo of the evaders on billboards around train stations. I think this worked pretty well

  • Horrific fines also work well. If it’s good enough for parking, it’s good enough for people. Funds ticket inspectors too, until we can afford barriers, everywhere.

  • Geoff Blackmore

    Why do they not have plans to sell tickets in Henderson, when AT’s head office and main public foyer is practically right at the station? It’s ridiculous that you can’t buy an AT HOP card at AT headquarters.

    • mike

      i agree as hate it when you want to use there service but the machines dont work it really puts you off PT

    • We’ll they do sell tickets, just not cards. But I agree, surely they could have a hop service desk (doing everything except single tickets) in the foyer of the building where the council and AT service desks are.

      Also one at midtown would be good, perhaps at the soon to be renovated Bledsoe building?

  • Sarah P

    How up to date are those timelines?

  • George D

    Agree with others here; there *must* be more sales locations around Auckland, and the stations should have working machines. These complement enforcement, and make the system better for everyone.

    I saw many inspectors in Brisbane when I lived there – I got inspected on my very first train ride!

  • Inspectors should also wear everyday clothes rather than a uniform with hi-vis vests. A lanyard with ID is all that is necessary. I recall inspectors in London travelling incognito then standing up after a particular station and announcing a ticket check. Much harder to avoid.

  • Waspman

    Is no one questioning the tiny 4-5% evasion figure? I mean its so low its in the margin of error and as Matt L said you may not see a ticket inspector for weeks at a time. And even then I have watched evaders simply remain on the train to complete their journey free of charge!

    Logic dictates that if these numbers are correct then Auckland’s train users are almost saint like in their honesty and there is no need for any further money to be spent on evasion. In fact bearing in mind this “honesty” you could justify a lot of the evasion simply down to ticket machines been out of order.

    So why the big push with surveillance etc for what is essentially a non issue unless of course it is?

  • Hidden.

    Think Waspman,
    It will help as a deterent, so the poor buggers (ticket inspectors) will not get verbally /physically assulted so much and will help with prosecuting the people who do commit this crime.
    Fair evasion is rife every day off peak.
    I agree that non uniformed staff are needed along with plain clothes police to catch more fare evaders would be a good idea.
    Papakura is so badly designed it would cost a lot on money to gate it off but it needs to be done as it’s one of the scum central points on the railway.
    When building platforms and stations AT need to think of tomorrow , not today!

    • Geoff Blackmore

      It will do the opposite. If you think staff assaults are bad for merely asking to check a ticket, just wait and see what happens when they attempt to issue a fine. I suspect we’ll actually see a staff death toll. Try issuing fines to a group of youths not paying at Te Mahia, and it’ll probably be the last thing you do. Even a police badge won’t save you…..

      If the evasion level is 4-5%, there isn’t actually a problem in need of solving. That figure will reduce with the further station gatings that are already planned. Will probably settle around 2%, which just isn’t an issue worth wasting money on.

      • So a make there person a police officer, or authorized deputy. Even the most thick headed rat bag knows that assaulting an officer gets you a jail stretch. And really if we have people on the system that will consider assaulting a person to avoid paying a ticket, then we need a police presence.

      • conan

        So that would probably fit into your serious crime category, worthy of police attention. How come other countries with a worse record of violence than us manage to have and enforce fines?

        • Geoff Blackmore

          Those “other countries” with tougher enforcement have about the same evasion level that we have without enforcement. That suggests tougher enforcement actually doesn’t work.

          At $60k starting salary per officer, you’ll be spending more than you save.

  • Police stations by central transit points, with tea rooms at the less frequented ones? Police could catch crims by PT.

    More seriously, the equivelant of the “transit police” in London, would be good, raise the fines, so everything becomes revenue neutral, when we run out of fair dodgers, the police could collect their bikes from the stations, and go looking for trouble.

  • At $1.5 million a year in fare evasion, gating all stations would cost more the evasion it stops and so there needs to be a balancing act.

    That’s actually wrong as the gates are a once off cost while the fare loss is $1.5m per year every year. In other words, full gating will pay for itself over time. Of course, if they’d thought about it they would have gone for the swipe on/off that we have on the buses.

    Using cameras is a good idea but it seems that AT are going about it wrong. What they should be doing is placing cameras on the trains that are backed up by recognition software. The on board computer would be able to recognise who’s swiped on and who hasn’t and then be able to direct the inspectors to the people who need to be talked to.

    Not in favour of banning people from the network either. We want people to use it and so I think a fine will suffice.

    • You can’t just install gates and leave it at that, you also have to man them otherwise they become just as pointless as the not having gates. That alone would add a few hundred thousand a year for each gated station.

      • That argument doesn’t make any sense. For starters, at present we have people manning the gates and we have people manning the trains themselves. If we had gates at every station then we’d be able to get rid of the people on the trains. And if we made the gates so that people couldn’t jump over them* then we wouldn’t need people manning the stations either.

        * Really, I’ve seen the gates. They look good but they’re so easy to jump over it’s not funny.

        • Do the numbers, for every station gated you need about two people at any one time to cover for breaks, security etc. That’s probably at least 5 people per day per station. You then need some more to cover weekends, leave etc. Multiply that over 40 stations and you have a lot of staff. By comparison Transdev have about 50 roving inspectors. Changing to gating all stations would incur significant extra people costs. Without those people manning the gates they would be just jumped over. And people who want to will always find a way through a gate if they really want too.

          • Auckz

            Ugh don’t get into an argument with Draco – he doesn’t understand numbers or financials. Draco – go back to The Standard with your poisonous style of “debate” and stay there.

          • What you’re saying is that it’s pointless having gates. So why do we have gates?

            Gating the station is to increase boarding and disembarking speeds so that travel is time is minimised. And we’re making them automated so that we can cut down and preferably eliminate the number of people employed to do a rather boring and pointless job. That means we need to find ways to make it work rather than whinging that it’ll never work.

            Those people breaking through the gates? They too can be caught on camera.

          • Auckz, I understand both numbers and financials just fine. And, more importantly, I even understand economics.

          • Auckz

            All evidence to the contrary – see: this conversation. Seriously Draco, you’re a noxious style of debater, politically biased and not half as smart as you think you are. Please don’t infect an otherwise excellent site with passionate, informed and intelligent commentators with your own brand of “debate”.

  • Neil

    I agree that banning people is dumb. Against what AT is trying to achieve, and likely to end up on TV because some kid cannot get to school or worker to work.

  • harrymc

    I’ve just come back from using the tube in London and the Paris and Toulouse metros.
    In London they are positively anally retentive about making people pay; everything is gated. I never saw ticket inspectors in 7 weeks but there were always staff at the exits watching the gates.
    In Paris they could not care less: I saw several people jump the barriers to enter. No ticket is need to exit Paris stations. It’s a free for all really.
    In Toulouse I used the metro once (a very nice little system) and got stopped by a team of inspectors checking tickets on exit. Like Paris no ticket is (normally) needed to exit.
    It depends on what philosophy we want to adopt here; the anally retentive British model or the laissez-faire French.

  • Both responses being appropriate to the respective environments. PT is Britain is run along business lines, and a lot of services are run by private operators ( somewhat similar to Auckland, although you can make good arguments against it ).

    The French are laissez-faire about largely, everything. including hours in the working week.

    The point is someone has to pay, and New Zealand, to the best of my knowledge, has less money than France.

    You could make a case for funding PT entirely from general taxation etc, and a politician, who’s name escapes me, did suggest free PT recently. You might also expect, that this , might, just might, wake people up enough to form a lynch mob as the politician who try’s to push that through. Fines for evasion then, brutal fines.

  • Peter

    Uh? Body mounted cameras? Isn’t that a breach of privacy laws, security cameras is one thing but cameras in your face is unacceptable.

  • Re : Mr Draco Malfoy and Understanding Economics

    There are some who say Economics is hokum, like Astrology.

    There are a lot who say, no one understands economics, which certainly seems to be the case, based on the evidence.

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