NZ evaders face penalties

Penalties are to be enforced on New Zealand fare evaders under changes to the Land Transport Act

New Zealand fare evaders will face penalties under changes to fare evasion to be made to the Land Transport Act in 2016.

New Zealand transport minister Simon Bridges says while previously there has been a fare evasion offence it has been very difficult to enforce.

Under changes to the Act, councils may appoint warranted enforcement officers who will have powers to ask passengers to provide evidence they have paid a fare, ask passengers to advise their name, address and date of birth if they cannot produce evidence of a valid ticket and advise the passenger to get off the public transport service.

 As before, fare evaders will face an infringement fee of $150 or a maximum fine of $500 on conviction if evidence of a fare cannot be provided.

But there will now also be a new offence of failure to comply with an enforcement officer’s directions to provide details or leave the service, which will carry a maximum fine of $1000 on conviction.

In challenging situations enforcement officers will still be able to call police for assistance, but the need for this will be significantly reduced by these new measures.

"Auckland Transport raised the issues around fare evasion with me and it has been good to work constructively with them to help ensure public transport is a success in our biggest city," says Bridges.

"Evasion of public transport could be as high as six per cent – or $2 million a year – on Auckland’s rail network alone, and without action, these numbers could rise further.

"Left unchecked evasion of fares increases the costs of public transport for paying passengers as well as taxpayers and ratepayers who subsidise the services."

 In doing so it undermines the integrity of the ticketing systems used and the effectiveness of public transport generally.

"While these changes will be of immediate use in Auckland especially on rail, they will also help in other parts of New Zealand – and on other modes of transport such as buses - over time," he says.

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