Oh Fare evasion is up and patronage is down!

 
  Some rail man Junior Train Controller

Location: CIA Headquarters in Washington D.C
The level of fare evasion on Melbourne's public transport system rose 2.5 per cent in just eight months last year, while the number of people travelling on the system fell 2 per cent, figures show. Fare evasion has been worst on the buses, where it almost doubled from 9.1 per cent to 16 per cent between October and May. Meanwhile, bus patronage fell 5.7 per cent for the 2012-13 financial year. The increase in fare evasion was less severe on trains and trams, rising from 8.8 to 9.9 per cent on trains and 10.5 to 11.9 per cent on trams. Overall, the percentage of travellers without a valid ticket rose from 9.4 per cent to 11.9 per cent. Advertisement The figures are contained in Public Transport Victoria's annual report for 2012-13. Myki became the sole ticket for Melbourne's public transport on December 29, three months after the fare evasion survey period began. Bus passengers were the slowest to migrate to myki, with one in five still using Metcards until the paper ticket system's final week. Besides regional buses, Metro's trains were the only mode in which patronage increased – up 2 per cent to 225.5 million passengers. Public Transport Victoria attributed the rise to better service and the completion of the Sunbury electrification project, after which Sunbury services switched from V/Line to Metro. Tram patronage fell 4.2 per cent. PTV said it expected tram patronage to rise again with the arrival of the first of 50 high-capacity trams, due before the end of the year. Patronage on V/Line trains fell 5.1 per cent after several years of strong growth, carrying 13.2 million passengers. In April, the government launched a revenue protection strategy which included plans to boost patrols on trams and buses. Bus drivers would also be encouraged to take a tougher line on fare evasion. PTV said in its annual report that it had "written to bus operators to remind them of their revenue protection responsibilities and will closely monitor performance in this area". Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/fare-evasion-up-but-patronage-down-20130919-2u217.html#ixzz2fKuAjeG2
The Age

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  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
There was a letter in the Melbourne mx last week from a self-proclaimed fare evader.  Can't remember the exact wording, but it was to the effect that this person had been fare evading for several years, and in that time had only been picked up and fined once, so was actually hugely ahead financially.   Could not understand what all the fuss was about, didn't see any need to pay fares, and seemed proud of him/herself for acting in that way.

If you do not buy a ticket but still travel illegally, you may not be counted in patronage figures, even though you are actually using the service.  Therefore undetected fare evasion tends to understate patronage?
  Carnot Minister for Railways

Fare evasion on buses is rampant given that the MYKI machines only work half the time on them.

Most of the time when I've seen Authorised Officers check Myki cards on trains, at least one person is pinged per carriage - especially during off-peak hours.
  connexwest Deputy Commissioner

Location: Waiting for the World's Biggest Divvy Van
There was a letter in the Melbourne mx last week from a self-proclaimed fare evader.  Can't remember the exact wording, but it was to the effect that this person had been fare evading for several years, and in that time had only been picked up and fined once, so was actually hugely ahead financially.   Could not understand what all the fuss was about, didn't see any need to pay fares, and seemed proud of him/herself for acting in that way.

If you do not buy a ticket but still travel illegally, you may not be counted in patronage figures, even though you are actually using the service.  Therefore undetected fare evasion tends to understate patronage?
Lad_Porter

I don't know about the trains, but it's a good thing that the trams don't rely on validation statistics to understand patronage; rather it's only used as part of the solution (i.e manual head counts are also taken)
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
I don't advocate any form of fare evasion.

The structure of the penalty system makes it relatively easy to pay nothing except the occasional fine if caught.  Even the escalating scale of fines introduced a few years ago has failed to stem the tide.

In addition to new thinking on what can be done to combat this it is time for the question to be asked "Is this fare evasion or simply ignorance or unfamiliarity with our system?"

Some is endemic and intentional avoidance of payment.  There is a culture problem in Melbourne where getting something for nothing is somewhere between a national sport and a given right.

There is a small number of hard-case "Can't pay won't pay" people who simply refuse to pay anything and for whom the occasional fine is merely an inconvenience.  Attitudes such as "Public transport should be free" don't cut it - the service has to be paid for somehow.

Then there are all those who may be trying to do the right thing but are unaware of what the right thing is, become confused, are unfamiliar perhaps because they are visitors or irregular users yet become unintentional fare evaders and thus statistics because they have not done something (such as touched on) or done it wrongly (such as bought or used the wrong fare).

Information is available but many people seem to have difficulty digesting it.  The fares and travel document is unwieldy in its length and does not present clear, concise user information.  This is not a pop at Myki - the same was equally true with Metcard.  There is no quick-reference document such as a laminated credit-card sized basic guide bullet-pointing the essentials.  The Myki card itself is bare and could contain the same basic essentials printed for handy reference.

Bus / tram stop fares and ticketing information is minimal where it is displayed at all.  With no-one on board trams to help and with no-one on a bus bar the driver who is usually pressed for time and would rather finish punctually than answer a myriad detailed enquiries what is the poor user to do?  Hop on and hope for the best?  That is what many do - then find themselves reported for an infringement.  That is hardly the most welcoming approach from the "World's Most Liveable City" neither is it customer-friendly in a city which prides itself on its great customer service.

The small timetable panels usually have a lot of white space which could be used to display simple messages such as "You must prepurchase a Myki and load value before travelling - no cash taken on board."  And "Touch on every time you board".  Touching off is a more complex scenario since the need to do so varies by mode and your individual trip.  It's not hard but the information isn't there where it's needed at the moment.

It could be argued that Melbourne's public transport is setting people up to be unintentional fare evaders by failing to inform.  

When we look at patronage decline this historically goes in peaks and troughs.  It is too early to suggest whether or not there is any significance in Myki now being the only ticketing system and some former users finding it too complex or simply too much trouble.  There are also other influences in play such as a slight downturn in the numbers in employment for example.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
There was a letter in the Melbourne mx last week from a self-proclaimed fare evader. Can't remember the exact wording, but it was to the effect that this person had been fare evading for several years, and in that time had only been picked up and fined once, so was actually hugely ahead financially.
Lad Porter
I worked with a lady who was also really proud of her fare evading prowess.  She had only been fined once in two years; she had two close calls that she managed to talk her way out of.  She said she was about three grand ahead, I have no reason to doubt that figure.  I can't be bothered getting hassled or having to move into the next carriage when I see them coming so that's really my main motivation for paying, but that lady really loved the naughty thrill of it all I think... whatever!

It could be argued that Melbourne's public transport is setting people up to be unintentional fare evaders by failing to inform.
Gwiwer
I think that's true but for many it's a risk they're willing to take.  Infrequent users who can't be bothered holding a Myki know their chances of actually being caught are very slim; and people like the serial fare evader I described above who know that even if they get fined three or four times a year they'll still be miles ahead.  And I think you are right about the state of the economy being a factor; I think people are more inclined to do it when they are short of cash.
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
but that lady really loved the naughty thrill of it all
"don_dunstan"
Oh dear, oh dear dear dear...
  Edith Chief Commissioner

Location: Line 1 from Porte de Vincennes bound for Bastille station
I have seen people, unaware of the system, touch on and get beeps (that say not enough credit) and wander on, thinking they have successfully touched on.  I have also seen people try to touch on and found the validation machine not ready and assume that they cannot touch on.  The inspector gets on and the machine has finished its start up cycle and is now working.  On one occasion I had to try all eight validation machines to get one to accept my ticket.

I do like Myki and how it charges me the best fare, as if I had known in advance what I was going to do that day, with time travelled and places visited across one or more zones.  Tomorrow I am going to test it out on a journey outside of Melbourne by Vline to Seymour.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
Oh dear, oh dear dear dear...
Watson374
Hey, look, some people love gambling, some people love drinking themselves into a stupor every weekend.  Some people get a thrill out of fare evasion.  I don't do any of those things but who am I to judge.

I have also seen people try to touch on and found the validation machine not ready and assume that they cannot touch on. The inspector gets on and the machine has finished its start up cycle and is now working.
Edith
I've had that happen to me more than once.  On one occasion I videoed myself with my phone trying to tag on just in case the inspectors got on because otherwise you don't have a leg to stand on.
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
I worked with a lady who was also really proud of her fare evading prowess.  She had only been fined once in two years; she had two close calls that she managed to talk her way out of.  She said she was about three grand ahead, I have no reason to doubt that figure.  
don_dunstan
This could be the same person as in my original post, but more likely that there are many who do this.  There is a need for better enforcement and detection, but it needs to be balanced (somehow) against genuine cases, such as myki not working and really needed to get that particular train, or previously noted cases of ignorance of the system for one reason or another - although there is a common maxim that ignorance of the law is no excuse.  I agree that there needs to be better dissemination of information on how to use myki, including looking at the screen when touching on/off, and listening for any beeps and knowing what they mean.  But this is not easy in a crowd - I have often been shoved from behind if I stop to read what it says on the screen, to see how much credit I have left, for example.

Ideally, AOs should be able to distinguish between malingerers and genuine unintended breaches, but that's a big ask.
  boilermaker69 Station Master

Location: Ballaarat
Myki is/was a waste of taxpayer's money.  I refuse to use it and now drive everywhere instead.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat Line
Myki is/was a waste of taxpayer's money.  I refuse to use it and now drive everywhere instead.
boilermaker69
I'd love to read your reasoning of this...Myki, a waste of money therefore I'll pay even MORE money to drive a car.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
Myki may not be the most user-friendly fare-collection system nor the easiest to understand.  We may well have been sold a very expensive lemon and that lemon has suffered political meddling which results in it being less juicy than we were promised.

But for most solo travellers public transport remains far cheaper than private.  The boot fits the other foot when families and group travel enters the equation since the costs of motoring are notionally reckoned by the car-load but public transport charges fares per person.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Myki was a classic case of re-inventing the wheel, there were already very good systems, already proven, de-bugged and in operation around the world, but the government decided to accept the tender for the most expensive system to date and then also locked itself into a punitive deal that meant it would cost more to get out of the deal than continue. Thanks to Steve Bracks for that.
  ewokracing Locomotive Fireman

Myki is an interesting social experiment. I've seen inspectors give one middle aged well dressed lady a free ride as she used the "I left my purse in my office at the church I do social work at" excuse. Catch was, I'd seen her myki about 15 mins earlier when she was looking for a tissue in her handbag. Obviously inspectors don't want to make a fuss over some people. I've seen others not touch on for short tram rides, which I can understand. $3.50 to take a tram two city blocks is a bit rich.

I worked with a guy who would catch the train every day from Kananook to Melb Central. At Caulfield he would get off the train and touch on for the first time as he got onto a city loop train, so he was only paying for two zone 1 trips every day. He said he'd done it ever since Myki came in and had never been busted as there are never inspectors on the busy morning trains. Seemed to work, we calculated that he was well ahead financially.
Stupid part is, he and I work at a place that offers discounted travel, so I can't understand his logic!
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Myki may not be the most user-friendly fare-collection system nor the easiest to understand.  We may well have been sold a very expensive lemon and that lemon has suffered political meddling which results in it being less juicy than we were promised.

But for most solo travellers public transport remains far cheaper than private.  The boot fits the other foot when families and group travel enters the equation since the costs of motoring are notionally reckoned by the car-load but public transport charges fares per person.
Gwiwer
So Gwiwer, are you still proudly Myki free? Or have you had to bite the bullet and buy a card?

I finally had to admit defeat and go down to the newsagent/post office in Garfield and buy a card for myself and my wife, as we can no longer buy a ticket on board the V/Line service.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
No bullet has been bitten here.  I have never used Myki.  Neither do I have a card of that ilk.

Currently my need for public transport is quite minimal since it cannot sensibly get me from home to employment and back, nor from home to hospital appointments and back, nor sensibly (in some cases not at all) from home to any of the locations I visit socially.

Service provision and coverage are issues for another place.  Let's just say that a daily commute to employment would take 2 - 2 1/2 hours each way for a journey I can complete reliably by car in 35 minutes.
  ChoooChoo Chief Train Controller

I was wondering, with the limited number of AO's why don't they have a time when they "flood" a particular line instead of being thinly distributed along all the lines we have.

I think it would send a much stronger message that way.

If they're spread on all the lines not many people would see the AO's inspecting tickets and so the mental effect of being caught isn't as prominent.

Once they finish flooding a line for the day, or half the day they move onto another line and this would continue for 1-2 weeks or so.

And yes, I know one could argue "but then fare evasion would be happening on the other lines".

But the thing is, people wouldn't be told there won't be AO's on their line
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
They do have "flood" operations.  Both at railway stations and tram stops.

Often when this is done they are out in force at several adjacent stations making it difficult for fare evaders to stay on one more stop and walk back.  

I once crossed the street at the Princes Bridge tram stop on the pedestrian crossing and was accosted by an AO requesting my ticket as part of a "swamp" operation where all passengers alighting are stopped.  According to him I had stepped off the tram which was unloading at the platform.  I had not.  He stated that he had seen me step off the tram from Toorak; I replied that I had actually made legitimate use of the pedestrian crossing.  He was about to call for back up when I though quickly, pulled out my mobile and advised that I was calling the Police on the grounds of unlawful detention.  I wrote to Yarra Trams identifying the officer concerned but never received a reply.
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
I once crossed the street at the Princes Bridge tram stop on the pedestrian crossing and was accosted by an AO requesting my ticket as part of a "swamp" operation where all passengers alighting are stopped.  According to him I had stepped off the tram which was unloading at the platform.  I had not.  He stated that he had seen me step off the tram from Toorak; I replied that I had actually made legitimate use of the pedestrian crossing.  He was about to call for back up when I though quickly, pulled out my mobile and advised that I was calling the Police on the grounds of unlawful detention.  I wrote to Yarra Trams identifying the officer concerned but never received a reply.
Gwiwer
Interesting.  To be fair, he could have mistaken you for someone else in the crowd.  You would hate to think he just picked on someone at random - they don't do that, do they?  As you had identified him to Yarra Trams, one would hope he got a "please explain", but probably not.  But if he really thought he had a case, he would have said "OK, go ahead and call the police", and then would you have backed off?  Who would the police have believed?
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
I would not have backed off because I was not prepared to give my details and receive a fine for something I had not done.  I suspect had the Police become involved they might have suggested we both walk away rather than waste their time.  Ultimately the burden of proof rests with the AO to show that I was aboard the tram.  While it's very hard to prove a negative (i.e. to show beyond reasonable doubt that I was not) he would have had a challenge to prove beyond reasonable doubt that I was.

My point was that the YT AO unit seems to act in a high-handed manner and on that occasion was interpreting the instruction to stop all passengers alighting from trams rather too widely.  Anyone may use a pedestrian crossing without let or hindrance even if it passes the end of a tram stop.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
I would not have backed off because I was not prepared to give my details and receive a fine for something I had not done.  I suspect had the Police become involved they might have suggested we both walk away rather than waste their time.  Ultimately the burden of proof rests with the AO to show that I was aboard the tram.  While it's very hard to prove a negative (i.e. to show beyond reasonable doubt that I was not) he would have had a challenge to prove beyond reasonable doubt that I was.

My point was that the YT AO unit seems to act in a high-handed manner and on that occasion was interpreting the instruction to stop all passengers alighting from trams rather too widely.  Anyone may use a pedestrian crossing without let or hindrance even if it passes the end of a tram stop.
Gwiwer
Yeah it's really unfortunate about that - I've never personally had a negative experience with them but I've seen lots of very heavy-handed tactics, especially hassling obviously mentally ill people.  That time I was relating on another thread about when they waited on a tram for the police to arrive, the cops were really annoyed with them and made them let the fare evader go.  Obviously even the cops get annoyed with their bully-boy tactics.

The weird thing is that it seems completely up to the individual officer as to how much a mini-Hitler they want to be; there's a crazy old Italian (I think?) guy I see on my tram route all the time, he never even pretends to validate and I don't think I've ever seen him do it once.  One day a ticket inspector asked him for his Mickey and he started screaming at them "I'll shoot you with my gun"  (no joke!).  The ticket inspectors just laughed at him and walked off but I reckon if he had encountered a different mob he might have ended up face down on the floor with his arm twisted behind his back.

In the old days of conductors at least there would have been a chance of getting a fare paid every time he gets on.  Oh well... customer service just so old school and non-21C.
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
I would not have backed off because I was not prepared to give my details and receive a fine for something I had not done.  I suspect had the Police become involved they might have suggested we both walk away rather than waste their time.  Ultimately the burden of proof rests with the AO to show that I was aboard the tram.  While it's very hard to prove a negative (i.e. to show beyond reasonable doubt that I was not) he would have had a challenge to prove beyond reasonable doubt that I was.

My point was that the YT AO unit seems to act in a high-handed manner and on that occasion was interpreting the instruction to stop all passengers alighting from trams rather too widely.  Anyone may use a pedestrian crossing without let or hindrance even if it passes the end of a tram stop.
Gwiwer
It's an interesting point.  On the PTV site, under the heading "Powers of Authorised Oficers", it says that if an AO "believes" that an offence has been committed, then they can ask for your name and address etc., and if you refuse to comply they can "arrest you until the police arrive".  The heading implies that they have the "power" to do all of that, and therefore that you are obliged to comply.  It doesn't say anything about whether the belief is mistaken (or worse).

According to that, he does not have to prove anything.  He just has to "believe", but the person who has been stopped has no way of knowing if the AO really believes it or is acting "rather too widely".  There is something very wrong here.
  Gwiwer Rt Hon Gentleman and Ghost of Oliver Bulleid

Location: Loitering in darkest Somewhere
According to that, he does not have to prove anything.  He just has to "believe"

That is correct.  There must be reasonable grounds for that belief.  "Reasonable grounds" includes your being on a tram and within the limits of a tram stop (platform, safety zone or roadway to and within a few metres of a kerbside flag) having - in the belief of the AO - travelled and stepped off a tram.

The burden of proof is shared.  The AO must prove beyond reasonable doubt if the matter is reported that they believed you were travelling or had just stepped off having travelled and you are required to prove beyond reasonable doubt the negative that you haven't travelled at all.

The reality seems to be that if there is persistence on the part of the person stopped and there might be doubt cast in the AOs mind they don't proceed.  They don't wish to spend time writing up cases which are thrown out neither do they wish to waste Police time which is an offence in itself.

The power to stop and inspect tickets after travel was granted to permit "swamp" operations at (usually busy) stops often in the City and at schools / university campuses and to place YT AOs on the same footing as their railway (now Metro) colleagues who have the power to inspect tickets after you leave the train but before leaving - or as you leave - railway premises.
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen

The power to stop and inspect tickets after travel was granted to permit "swamp" operations at (usually busy) stops often in the City and at schools / university campuses and to place YT AOs on the same footing as their railway (now Metro) colleagues who have the power to inspect tickets after you leave the train but before leaving - or as you leave - railway premises.
Gwiwer
That's fine on railway stations, because the inspection would take place before you touched off, or as you were about to do so.  But on trams, you touch off as you exit the tram.  Sure, you don't always have to, but in some cases it is required, and many people touch off anyway.  So if you do that, and then get accosted while still on the tram stop, what then?  Can an AO know if you touched off a few seconds ago?

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