Fare evasion on Victoria’s public transport network is at its lowest in at least a decade. New policies, a new ad campaign, and an increased number officers checking tickets, are being credited with the result.
Since the introduction of on-the-spot penalty fares and a ramp-up in the number of officers checking tickets in late 2014, the number of tickets being checked across Victoria’s network has increased by 61%, according to Public Transport Victoria (PTV) chief executive officer Mark Wild.
Authorised officers have caught 140,000 fare evaders in the last six months. Of the 140,000 people caught evading fares, 28% have opted to pay their fine on the spot, according to Wild.
“The introduction of on-the-spot penalty fares allows offences to be processed quickly and efficiently,” Wild said on Friday, March 13.
Under a program launched in August 2014, fare evaders have the option to pay a $75 fine on the spot, to avoid having their name and address recorded for a heftier fine to be issued at a later date.
Helping to enforce the fines are the 70 multi-modal authorised officers PTV recently added to its roster, bringing to total to more than 600.
“Authorised officers are now checking more than one million tickets per month, Wild said. “Authorised officers also assist customers with information and provide a visible security and safety presence.”
The new fining policy, and added officer presence, is having a clear positive result, according to Wild. PTV estimates network-wide fare evasion to be just 5.9%, the lowest rate since surveys began in 2005.
“The latest fare compliance data is extremely encouraging,” he said. “Victorians value public transport and understand that fares are essential to a sustainable system.
“More than 94% of customers are paying the right fare but there are still some that don’t.”
To tackle the remaining fare evaders, PTV is launching the next phase of its ‘Freeloaders’ ad campaign, aimed at highlighting the risks of fare evasion. The first phase of the campaign was launched in August last year.
“Our research shows that this campaign has resonated with our target audience, with 49% of those surveyed responding they would be less likely to fare evade after seeing the campaign,” Wild said.
“The actions we are taking on all fronts are building momentum.
“Fare evasion still costs us around $51m per year and that’s money we could use to improve the system for everyone.”