Latest Rail News

04.11.16

Exclusive: Fare-dodging on Metrolink costs £8m in three years

Fare-dodging on Manchester’s trams has cost £8m over the past three years, a Freedom of Information request by RTM has revealed.

The amount of revenue Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has lost through passengers travelling on the Metrolink network without tickets has grown from £2.1m in 2013-14, to £2.8m in 2014-15, to £3.1m in 2015-16.

In the same period, the percentage of passengers observed travelling without a ticket also grew from 4.1% to 5.5%.

Peter Cushing, Metrolink director at TfGM, told RTM: “When people are travelling without a ticket, this is not a victimless crime. This is about not paying towards the upkeep and expense of the Metrolink network.”

Cushing denied that fare-dodging was a growing problem, adding that the increase was “about the same percentage increase as the size of the network”.

Metrolink’s annual patronage has grown from 30 million in 2014 to 33 million last year, and is on target to grow to 36 million by the end of 2016.

In 2013 and 2014, the network expanded to destinations including East Didsbury, Oldham, Rochdale and Manchester Airport.

The new Second City Crossing will see an additional central Manchester network running from St Peter’s Square to Victoria Station, and Metrolink recently received government approval for the £350m Trafford Park Line.

Cushing admitted that catching fare dodgers is a challenge on Metrolink, which is ungated and, at most stops, has no staff to check passenger tickets.

“The problem is you’re effectively trying to spend your own money chasing ticketless travel in a way that would seriously reduce the number of people travelling without a ticket,” he said. “It’s very difficult. We’re running almost 100 trams a day over an 18-hour period across 94 stops. To police every one of those every second would be extremely expensive and probably counter-productive.”

Since April 2015, Travelsafe, a joint unit between TfGM and Greater Manchester Police, has been working with Metrolink and local bus operators to crack down on fare-dodging and other transport crimes.

As part of the campaign, police officers have been joining forces with Metrolink customer service representatives, who do not otherwise have the power to stop passengers walking away if they can’t produce a ticket at a stop.

Travelsafe also leads events in schools to teach young people that fare evasion has consequences because of the lack of funding for upkeep of the network, as well as teaching them about the risks of trespassing on the network.

In September, Travelsafe officers arrested seven people in the Oldham area in connection with £15,000 of unpaid fines. In October, 16 young people, also from Oldham, were fined £2,600 through a youth court for fare evasion.

Cushing said that while Metrolink staff practiced “quite a lot of discretion” in terms of when to impose the £100 fine on passengers without a ticket, it was trying to crack down on the small group of passengers “who habitually travel for nothing”.

He added that Metrolink was increasingly using intelligence to identify at what times of day fare-dodgers are most likely to use each line.

“We’re getting better and better at chasing this problem out of the system,” Cushing said.

Next week, RTM will report on London’s Docklands Light Railway, which has succeeded in cutting its fare-dodging losses by nearly £600,000 over the last three years.

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Comments

Lorna Sharpe   04/11/2016 at 12:26

You might expect the absolute number of fare-dodgers to increase as the network increases (all other things being equal), but you can't dismiss a percentage increase that way.

Andrew Gwilt   04/11/2016 at 18:54

Not to mention other extensions such as the extension to Salford Port which is soon to be under construction and should be completed by 2018 or in 2020.

Andrew Gwilt   04/11/2016 at 18:58

But I also think that fare-dodging is becoming a major problem with some people not obeying the rules and how to buy a ticket before using any transport including trams, tubes, light rail and national rail and its costing £millions's to the taxpayers and us who use any transport. Fare-dodging needs to be prohibited or banned.

Boris   06/11/2016 at 10:15

Of course fare dodging is illegal, Andrew.

Andrew Gwilt   07/11/2016 at 22:17

You must think Im dumb Boris.

Ian (Biggles) Hancock.   10/11/2016 at 15:01

Put conductors on the trams as Sheffield has.

Brian William Lefley   27/12/2016 at 13:39

Fare evasion on Metrolink is blatant . How can they give figures for evasion when by definition it is clandestine? The problem originated from the opening in 1992 when the dishonest realised the system was easy to bilk. It is THEFT and should be prosecuted as such.

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