Monash study jumps fare evasion barriers
Faulty ticket machines, overcrowding on trains and trams, and travelling short distances are just some of the reasons used by public transport fare evaders to rationalise their behaviour, according to Monash University researchers.
Dr Alexa Delbosc and Professor Graham Currie from Monash University’s Department of Civil Engineering conducted a world-first review of why people fare evade – an act that costs governments millions of dollars in revenue each year.
They found that globally, the focus on fare evasion has shifted away from concentrating only on enforcement, such as calculating the optimal fine level or inspection rate. There is now an increasing interest in who is fare evading and why.
Studies from several countries, including Australia, found that fare evaders fall into distinct character profiles:
- ‘accidental’ fare evaders (people who never fare evade intentionally)
- ‘unintentional’ fare evaders (mean to do the right thing but sometimes fare evades because of issues with ticketing)
- ‘deliberate’ fare evaders (intentionally fare evade if the benefits outweigh the risks)
“Despite making up the lowest percentage of the market, our study in Melbourne found that ‘deliberate’ fare evaders are responsible for the majority fare evasion trips and, by extension, foregone revenue,” Dr Delbosc said.
“We found that ‘unintentional’ evaders are on the fence – they want to pay their way but are relatively quick to fare evade if ticketing is made too difficult. Every barrier to easy ticketing – such as complex fare structures, long ticket queues or difficulty ‘topping up’ their smartcard – provides a potential excuse to fare evade in the minds of this group of people.”
A combination of increasing penalty fees, changing ticketing infrastructure and new marketing campaigns were found to be useful deterrents to fare evasion. These measures have been implemented in many cities since the research was published saving many millions of dollars in Australia and internationally.