NSW minister for transport Gladys Berejiklian has announced plans to expand the state’s squad of transport officers to more than 200, in an effort to crack down on fare evasion.
Recruitment has begun for 65 new transport officers, set to add to the 150 officers who already work alongside Police Transport Command to target fare evasion on public transport, Berejiklian said last week.
Officers checking tickets on trains, buses, ferries and light rail have issued more than 111,000 fines since May 2013.
“Our existing 150 Transport Officers are issuing the same amount of fines as Labor’s whole squad of old RailCorp transit officers,” Berejiklian said.
“Transport Officers work closely with the Police Transport Command, who in addition have issued more than 100,000 infringements on the transport network for offences including fare evasion.
“Fare evasion costs taxpayers millions of dollars a year, and while the majority of customers do the right thing, it’s frustrating when others don’t pay their way. It also means less money to spend on extra transport services and new infrastructure,” Berejiklian said.
The boost in numbers means transport officers will be able target Sydney hot spots and outer suburban areas, including Wollongong, the Blue Mountains and the Central Coast, the minister added.
“Transport officers are now equipped with a handheld smart device which automatically sends infringement notices in the post, meaning less time on administration and more time helping customers and reducing fare evasion,” she said.
“Transport officers also use hand-held Opal readers to scan customers’ Opal cards and ensure people have tapped on correctly – another important way we’re tackling fare evasion.”
Transport for NSW has also introduced an initiative to turn off concession sales at ticket machines at selected stations, ensuring customers need to show proof of entitlement.
“Since the move, concession sales have dropped by 10% and full price tickets increased by the same amount, meaning 4 million extra full price tickets will be purchased this year,” Berejiklian said.
“We are sending a strong message to those who might normally travel without tapping on with their Opal card, or carrying the right ticket or concession, that the days of getting away with fare evasion are over.”
Training for the additional transport officers will start in January and the first of the new officers will be on the job by April 2015.