Fare evasion

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Fare evasion or ticket evasion, as distinct from fare avoidance or ticket avoidance, is the act of travelling on public transport in disregard of the law and/or regulation, having deliberately not purchased the required ticket to travel (having had the chance to do so). It is a problem in many parts of the world, and revenue protection officers operate on many systems. Often ticket barriers, manned or automatic, are in place at stations etc., to ensure only those with valid tickets may access the transport.

Fare evasion and fare fraud is generally a crime in most jurisdictions.[citation needed] The fare not paid, compared to potential penalties and hassle, is generally considered “not worth it”.[1][2]

Fare evasion can be a chronic problem in transit systems, especially large systems like New York[1] or Paris. From classic turnstile “vaulting” and “slugs” instead of legitimate tokens to elaborate schemes involving stolen faregate keys, fraudulent electronic fare media, “forgetting” proof-of-payment (POP) receipts, or “two card monte” that takes advantage of fare system features, many ways exist to avoid paying fares. Indeed, industry standard revenue ‘leakage’ is reportedly 3%~6%.[3] Evasion is so rampant in some cities that conversion from POP to turnstiles is being proposed[4] or seriously considered.[5]

In the transit world, fare abuse studies are sometimes shrouded in utmost secrecy and treated like classified information, but it is widely discussed in popular press,[6][7][8][9][10] local television news,[11][12] criminal justice literature,[13][14][15] economics research,[16] and internet blogs;[17] in New York,[6][7][18] New Jersey,[4] Boston,[3][10] Chicago,[11] Atlanta,[12][19] San Francisco,[9][20][21] Los Angeles,[5][8] Seattle,[22] Vancouver,[23] Edmonton,[15][24] London,[14] and Paris.[25] Four agencies (TransLink, King County Metro, Edmonton, New York) made evasion audit findings public, San Francisco (Muni) and Atlanta (MARTA) presented papers, while Toronto addressed evasion in a fare collection study,[26] at least one confidential international benchmarking study was published,[27] and Federal Transit Administration has even requested special studies of non-farebox passengers [18] within the context of National Transit Database ridership reporting.

To understand evasion, it is imperative to first understand interactions between fare control hardware, fare tariff, and passengers. Evasion occurs when passengers gain access from unpaid to paid side by interacting with fare controls in manners inconsistent with tariff. Transit’s tariff is complex, sometimes requiring legitimate revenue passengers to defeat fare controls with behaviors that resemble evasion to casual observers.[citation needed] Additionally, entry procedures are not always strictly followed, though usually no actual revenue losses takes place. There are, therefore, real debates about what constitutes evasion.

Different observation methodologies were used to estimate evasions: staff interviews (Edmonton), operator counts (King County Metro), surveyor counts (New York and San Francisco), and third party audits (TransLink Vancouver).

Methods of fare evasion[edit]

On stations[edit]

One method of fare evasion is jumping or clinging over the turnstiles which mark the entryway into a subway system; hence the term, “turnstile jumping”. Fare-dodgers also can walk right behind a passenger with a valid ticket before closing of ticket barrier gates.[28] Other methods include adults traveling on children’s tickets, or using discounted tickets or free passes that the passenger is not entitled to.

However, ticket barriers are often watched by ticket inspectors and guards, and in that case fare-dodgers can climb over fences of a station or simply walk alongside railway tracks or use passes for railway staff to enter or exit the station without passing through ticket barriers.[28][29] In some cases fare-dodgers can break and destroy fences around a train station to make a passage.[30]

On vehicles[edit]

Fare-dodgers are running from ticket inspectors to the cars that they already checked.

On a vehicles fare-dodgers usually try to avoid meeting with ticket inspectors or conductors.

On a commuter trains with a sufficient number of passenger coaches one of the most common methods is walking away from ticket inspectors to other coaches and running on the platform in the opposite direction to the coaches that ticket inspectors already passed.[31] On short commuter trains or esepecially intercity and long-distance passenger trains fare-dodgers can try to hide from ticket inspectors in toilets, luggage compartments, staff rooms and other utility chambers inside the train.[32]

Another issue occurs on the bus or tram, passengers would either bypass the bus driver or simply enter through the rear door of the vehicle. This is commonly found under the New York City Bus system which causes its operators to lose millions of dollars a year.[33] If a bus or tram have a turnstile installed in it, fare-dodgers can jump over or crawl under a turnstile[34]. In most countries passengers board a bus from any door, validate their tickets at machines and have no contact with the driver thus increasing the potential for fare evasion.

Passengers without ticket also can try to arrange ticket inspectors to allow them travel with getting bribes to them that are cheaper than purchasing a ticket.[34]

The most extreme method of fare evasion is a riding on exterior parts of a vehicle (on a rooftops, rear parts, between cars or underneath a vehicle), also known as a vehicle surfing (train surfing, car surfing). Another method is hiding inside a utility cells under a railway car[35]. Fare dodgers can practice this types of travelling if there are very hard or even impossible to hide from ticket inspectors inside a vehicle.

Countermeasures[edit]

Technical devices[edit]

Ticket barriers[edit]

Turnstiles are used to obstruct invalid access. Since most fare-dodgers know how to pass a gate without paying, turnstiles may be replaced with ticket barriers in a less easily transversed form, or may be integrated more closely with an electronic ticket system. Ticket barriers can also require the travellers to show their tickets upon exiting. Typically turnstiles are used at train stations, however some city transit systems install turnstiles inside city street vehicles, for example buses and trans.

Panic bars[edit]

Panic bars on emergency exit doors, which sound an alarm when the door is opened, are in all stations of the New York City Subway.[36]

Panic bars were also installed on Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA) in Boston and on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA).[37] This provided an impetus for renewed interests in evasion, because evaders could enter through gates when already opened by exiting passengers.[38]

Closed circuit television[edit]

Closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring is used by many public transport companies to combat vandalism and other public order crimes. Using CCTV to apprehend fare-dodgers in the act requires full-time human monitoring of the cameras. Sophisticated CCTV systems discriminate the scenes to detect and segregate suspicious behaviour from numerous screens and to enable automatic alerting. However, the attentiveness of the surveillance personnel may be threatened by false reliance on automatics.

Fare control staff[edit]

Ticket inspectors[edit]

A railway conductor
Ticket inscpector and guard wathing for turnstiles in Moscow Metro

With manual fare collection, fare evasion can become more difficult and stigmatizing for the fare-dodging traveller, especially usage of discounted tickets (for example child, student or pensioner tickets) by passengers who are not allowed to use it. Ticket inspectors can verify tickets of passengers during the trip or during a boarding on vehicle (the last form of fare control is a common practice on long-distance rail transport). In some cases ticket inspectors are assigned to a certain vehicle during its trip on entire route (usually on long-distance or some commuter transport) and often, in another cases they randomly check multiple vehicles (usually city public transport and some commuter transport). Transit systems which use honor systems under normal circumstances may employ staff to collect fares at times and places where heavy use can be expected - for example, at stations serving a stadium after the conclusion of a major sporting event.

Ticket inspectors can also watch for turnstiles at train stations to avoid unauthorized passing without a valid ticket and using discounted tickets. Ticket inspectors may or may not be allowed to use force to prevent or apprehend fare-dodgers.

Uniformed guards[edit]

The presence of uniformed guards can act as a deterrent to fare evasion, especially unauthorized passing through turnstiles. Guards may or may not be allowed to use force to prevent or apprehend fare-dodgers.

Police officers[edit]

Police officers can watch for turnstiles and escort ticket inspectors in vehicles, and unlike ticket inspectors and guards they always allowed to use force to prevent or apprehend fare-dodgers. It is sometimes common for police officers dressed in plain clothes to patrol subway stations. As such, they have all the jurisdiction that normal officer have when policing the transit system.

Penalization[edit]

Penalty fare[edit]

A penalty fare is a special fare charged at a higher than normal price because the purchaser did not comply with the normal ticket purchasing rules. Typically penalty fares are incurred by passengers failing to purchase a ticket before travelling or by purchasing an incorrect ticket which does not cover their whole journey.

Penalty fares are not fines, and are used when no legal basis for prosecuting fare evasion exists, prosecution is deemed too drastic and costly, or is unlikely to result in conviction.

Ticket inspector and police officers make up a fine for fare-dodger.

Civil and criminal penalties[edit]

On some systems, fare evasion is considered a misdemeanor. In such cases, police officers and in some cases transit employees are authorized to issue tickets which usually carry a heavy fine.[citation needed] Then, charged persons can then be tried in court. Repeat violators and severe cases, such as ticket forgery, are punished more severely and sometimes involve incarceration. Wealthy offenders face stiffer penalties than poorer offenders.[39]

Evasion fines vary. On Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA), evasion fines range from $85 to $235,[40] whereas they “start at $50” on the San Francisco Municipal Railway.[41] In Boston, prior to CharlieCard AFC implementation and conversion of booth clerks to roving agents, MBTA quietly asked Massachusetts State Legislature to make evasions a civil offense [42] punishable by progressive fines ($15 first offense; $100 second; $250 third or subsequent). On the Newark Light Rail, which uses a proof-of-payment system, the fine was initially $75, but increased to $100 in 2008.

In the US, the MBTA, CTA,[11] and Port Authority Trans-Hudson (PATH) also use sophisticated camera equipment. The MBTA even apprehended vandals damaging AFC equipment while evading, and published the video footage.[43]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  11. ^ a b c Levine, Jay and E. Marshall. CTA Cheaters: People Ride Free At Brown Line Stop. In CBS2 Chicago Area Local News, 10:39 pm Central, Feb 16, 2010. Retrieved from http://cbs2chicago.com/local/cta.brown.line.2.1499276.html on July 4, 2010.
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  19. ^ [1][dead link]
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