Regional services left in dark as fare evasion hammers Melbourne

Fare evasion cost Melbourne $85 million in 2010–11, but its cost on regional bus services is unknown: report

Regional services left in dark as fare evasion hammers Melbourne
Regional services left in dark as fare evasion hammers Melbourne
By Sean Muir | August 29, 2012

Fare evasion has cost Victoria’s metropolitan public transport sector $85 million in 2010–11 alone, but the impact of fare flouts on regional bus services is 'not
well understood', according to a report tabled to parliament today.

Auditor General Des Pearson’s report on fare evasion blames a lack of enforcement for an $18.7 million increase in lost fares on Melbourne's public transport system from January 2010 to June 2011

following the introduction of myki.

Between July 2008 and June 2011 metropolitan bus fare evasion accounted for $1.6 million in lost revenue, while trams cost $13.5 million, and metropolitan trains accounted for losses of $3.6 million.

The report found
the total
revenue lost
on all modes of public transport fell by 31 per cent, from $25.2 million to $17.3 million, between the second half of 2005 and the first half of 2008.

Between the first half of 2008 and the first half of 2011 the cost rose by 155 per cent, from $17.3 million to $44.2 million, before falling to $38.9 million in late 2011.

Two-thirds of this rise, or $18.7 million, happened in an 18-month period between January 2010 and June 2011.

"The significant increase in fare evasion between 2009 and 2011 happened because of the decline in effective enforcement," Pearson says.

"The department viewed the level of visible enforcement as crucial to controlling the level of fare evasion."

But, according to Pearson’s report, the cost of fare evasion on regional bus services is
not understood
as they were not included in the survey and are rarely inspected by authorised officers.

"The 12 authorised officers managed by the Bus Association Victoria (BAV) on behalf of the operators have to cover bus operations across the whole state," Pearson says.

"This allows only for the occasional visit to inspect regional services."

Pearson says on the occasions the officers have inspected regional services, which generate $15 million in annual fare revenue, the findings have been inconclusive.

"Fare revenue is not adequately protected and the impacts of fare evasion are not well understood under the current arrangements," Pearson says.

"PTV (Public Transport Victoria) needs to confirm the scale of fare evasion on regional buses and to work with the operators to identify a more cost-effective way of better protecting this revenue."

The report further recommends PTV develop survey-based estimates of fare evasion across regional public transport, review the cost-effectiveness of ticketing enforcement on Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses and on regional public transport and consider the economic case for allocating additional resources to this task.

Metropolitan bus contracts started in July 2008 and require operators to ensure passengers have the correct tickets and that those tickets have been validated.

BAV prepares an annual bus revenue protection plan, employing 12 authorised officers to check for valid tickets, write RONCs on fare evaders, and address anti-social behaviour.

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