Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

5,000 Fare Dodgers Every Day

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

5,000 Fare Dodgers Every Day

Article excerpt

Around 5,000 fare dodgers are travelling on the Metro every day.

And the vast majority evade any penalty.

Security has been tightened up, with squads of inspectors on stations and trains, but the scale of the problem has shocked some councillors.

One senior member of the Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Authority (PTA) described it as a near-scandal and there were calls for more staff to be recruited.

Managers at Nexus, which runs the Metro, say this would be too costly without extra money from the Government.

They say fare evasion has been cut following the introduction of teams of inspectors and other security measures.

The latest figures reveal that 4.9% of people travelling on the Metro haven't bought a ticket.

The railway will carry between 36 million and 36.5 million passengers this year, which means around 1.8 million a year, or 5,000 a day, are fare dodgers.

The figures were disclosed by Nexus following questions by Conservatives on the Labour-run Passenger Transport Authority.

The Conservative Party's Newcastle chairman, Brian Moore, said fare-dodging and anti-social behaviour go hand-in-hand and more needs to be done to improve security.

The average fare on the Metro is 95p and Mr Moore says this means fares evasion is costing around pounds 1.7m a year.

However, this was disputed by Nexus, which says the figure is around pounds 1m and inspectors dish out between 25,000 and 30,000 penalty fines of pounds 20 each year.

Mr Moore said: "As a regular user of the Metro, I find the level of minor disorder has increased noticeably in the last few years, mirroring society.

"The solution is simple ( conductors on trains and stations.

"Tackle fare-dodging and you reduce the level of anti-social behaviour."

Newcastle Council's deputy Liberal Democrat leader, Coun John Shipley, who is a member of the PTA, said: "It is little short of a scandal.

"Nexus needs to recruit more staff to stop people travelling free and avoid the constant loss of fares income. …

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