Major Crackdown On Fare Evasion


Auckland’s train authorities are launching a major crackdown on fare evasion.

They say this is in part due to feedback from customers complaining that people are getting away with not paying, while they are. ARTA estimates it’s losing $1.5m a year in lost revenue because of train commuters not paying.

They’re giving the public warning of the first crackdown, which will be followed by others periodically and at various train stations.

The first will be on April 27 (Tues) and 28 (Wed) between 3.30pm and 6.30pm at Britomart.

Access to the platforms will be closed off and you won’t be able to enter unless you show a ticket to Veolia staff, a ticket which they consider validated. You will have to buy a ticket from the street level Britomart ticket office but also Veolia ticket selling staff will be available at platform level to sell tickets to anyone found without a valid ticket.

Until now, the odd "leakage survey" has been held

ARTA’s Mark Lambert says: “Paying customers have told us, no fare is not fair.”

He said that a number of initiatives had already been introduced to assist customers to pre-purchase tickets.

These included: ticket sales on train platforms across the network; the expansion of Britomart ticket office hours; the expansion of the local ticket agent network, the provision of a ticket office at the new Newmarket train station and the introduction of  $5 discount off board monthly train passes. “Once the initiative has been trialled, platform ticket checks at Britomart will continue periodically and potentially rolled out to other stations on the network”, said Mr Lambert.

Of course, this is like a human version of ticket turnstiles, common overseas and a pre-cursor to integrated ticketing which will require such validation before boarding.

New or revamped Auckland stations have been designed with such ticket turnstiles in mind for when integrated ticketing is introduced.

Most of us have seen people evading fares – one getting on at Britomart  the other day lay down on the floor shielded by his mates and managed to avoid the train manager until they left the train in New Lynn.

$1.5m is lost money that could help the cost of the train network improvements.




  1. joust says:

    $1.5m could pay for a new station like Grafton every 2yrs.

  2. rtc says:

    I don’t know why there is this assumption that Auckland should have turnstiles in all the stations prior to integrated ticketing. Having spent time in both Germany and the UK I clearly find the German system which operatea without turnstiles much better than in the UK. I don’t think there’s much argument that Germany is one of the most clued up countries PT wise so why aren’t we looking to them for inspiration?

  3. Bevan says:

    @rtc How does the German system work, for those of us that don’t know?

  4. Jeremy Harris says:

    I think a payment machine on the platforms that prints a ticket allowing you to present it on the train is one way to avoid turnstiles… Like you find in South American BRT systems…

  5. Luke says:

    German system works on honesty, no turnstiles, just machines at stations. However the system relies of people noting the presence of inspectors often enough that they do not want to get caught. Cant see any advantages in the system, I know when I was visiting for a week recently I regularly didnt pay for short trips.
    Turnstiles at the entry/exit of the 5 - 10 biggest stations should cover most journeys.

  6. Matt L says:

    What a smart move, tell everyone the days they will be monitoring so people just pay on those days and avoid paying on the rest. What happens when people have a 10 trip ticket, does it get clipped when going through or on the train. whats to stop people just buying a 1 stage ticket and traveling 5 stages? It seems to me like some more thought needs to go into this.

    Also how long is it going to take for this to be automated as part of integrated ticketing?

  7. Jimmy says:

    If you read it again: “They’re giving the public warning of the first crackdown, which will be followed by others periodically and at various train stations.”
    If they’re trying something different then I have no problem with them informing their customers about it initially, as it will no doubt cause some confusion and delays. But then after it’s been done a couple of times, passengers will know what to expect and ‘un-advertised’ checks will no doubt be introduced.

    And this is a crack down on ‘fare evasion’ (not paying at all) which is different to ‘over-riding’ (travelling further than you’ve paid for).

  8. Matt L says:

    Jimmy - They already do random checks at times. Heading into town in the mornings they will announce after leaving Newmarket that they are checking tickets. I was also pointing out that there are other ways to avoid paying full fares and they also need to be taken into consideration

  9. Jimmy says:

    Unfortunately I don’t think there is much else that can really be done about over-riding (prior to integrated ticketing) without incurring massive increases in staffing costs.

  10. rtc says:

    @bevan - the Swiss and German systems are honesty systems based on random spot checks of trains. Tickets can be bought at machines at most stops.

    If you don’t have a valid ticket you are fined and your details recorded, repeat offences lead to bigger and bigger fines. Considering a monthly pass may cost NZD80 and a fine for the first offence is 80NZD, it means it’s not worth not buying a ticket. In Switzerland the second fine is 160 then 320. It works well, it removes the need for turnstiles at stations for starters and allows entry on all doors of trams, buses, trains etc, which means a lot of people can get on a bus in a few seconds.

    I am sure there are a lot of reasons why it’s done this way in Germany and Switzerland, both countries know what they’re doing when it comes to PT, and I am sure they’ve written books as to the benefits of this system.

  11. Doloras says:

    I’ve evaded fares “by accident” - I came on the train with a valid 10-trip ticket but got off again before the clippie came in my direction. Should I feel guilty that I didn’t struggle through the train to find a clippie before I got off?

    Seriously, roll on integrated ticketing and turnstiles like in civilised countries.

  12. joust says:

    Doloras, the same thing has happened to me and I’m sure many others. I was quite clearly holding out my ten-trip card very willing for it to be clipped and the staff member walked right past me. A ten-trip with unclipped slots left on it is a valid ticket. The fact the “collection system” failed to do its job isn’t the fault of the passenger.

    It’s good they’re making an effort to check and recover some of the times when passengers actively try and ride for free.

    It shows though that automated ticketing on trains could end up delivering quite a windfall, lower collection costs, better fare collection, less hassle for passengers so inducing demand a little. Could be a pretty good earner for them.

  13. Nick R says:

    rtc, a collary to that is Melbourne which uses the same system honesty + inspection system for its trams, and it is basically a failure.
    Despite regular inspections and fines of $120 dollars (more than the cost of a monthly pass) official estimates are that 25-30% of passengers on the tram network travel without a valid ticket!
    The argument in this case is that having enough inspections to get the last quarter would cost more in staffing costs than it would gain in revenue.

  14. Luke says:

    I’ve also heard bad stories about the Melbourne systems where the collection officers are somewhat over zealous, with passengers being aggressively restrained by officers.
    I dont think we want to end up in this situation as you lose passenger goodwill.
    Easier on heavy railways though with less stops.

  15. Paul Quinlan says:

    Turnstiles would really stuff up my use of Britomart as a rain shelter to and from Queen St

    When I was working near Foodtown, I would frequently go down to the platforms on wet days, coming back up again at Queen Street, and vice-versa!

  16. joust says:

    Paul that’d be a big problem at Wellington station too with literally thousands of people walking the length of the platforms on match days to get to the stadium.

    I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to allow free entry and exit of paid areas within 5min or so using the smart-card at both ends.


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