One million dollars a month was lost due to passengers on buses in the eastern suburbs Sydney avoiding their fares from June to December 2017, new Transport for NSW data reveals.
Sydney public and private bus operators lost about $17.7 million in revenue due to fare fudging passengers in the second half of 2017, up $4 million on the same period in 2016 and about $5 million more than the six months prior.
Recent losses were driven by the eastern suburbs area where rates of people minimising the amount they pay to ride the bus rose from about 4 per cent in May 2016 to almost 10 per cent of passengers in November 2017.
The number of people estimated to be paying for the right ticket on public transport in Sydney declined on buses and trams but increased on trains and ferries in the six months to December 2017. The estimates are derived from a survey conducted every six months (in May and November) by a market research company that takes a representative sample of fare evasions to extrapolate across the network.
Across all modes of public transport, the rate of people not paying their way was stable in 2017 at about 6 per cent, in Melbourne the rate of shirkers was less than 5 per cent last year.
Half of the people who skipped their fares in Sydney did so by not tapping an Opal card or carrying no ticket at all. The rest either claimed a concession fare without proof or had other reasons such as a lost school bus pass.
A Transport for NSW spokesman said people not paying the right amount to travel on public transport cost NSW taxpayers $83 million last year.
“[That] is money which could have been reinvested in the network,” the spokesman said.
There was an increase in people failing to produce a valid entitlement for concession cards, including adults travelling with a child concession Opal card.
“A campaign based on behavioural insights has been designed to help customers do the right thing by tapping on and off with a valid Opal card,” the spokesman said. “[It] is currently being rolled out on the suburban and intercity rail network, and on buses in the eastern suburbs.”
Sydney trains recorded a better result, losing $16.1 million revenue to fare evasion in the six months to December 2017; $2 million less than the first six months of 2017 and about $1.5 million less than the same period in 2016.
The rates of fare evasion were higher in the afternoon peak hours and on weekends for almost all modes of transport.
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