A new report from Metrolinx has revealed fare evasion is three times higher than what the transit organization previously thought—accounting for nearly $15 million in lost revenue per year.
According to a report going to the Metrolinx board on May 15, the transit organization’s revenue protection team completed inspections based on a percentage of ridership.
Based on past inspections, Metrolinx believed 1.1% of GO Transit riders weren’t paying fares.
However, a more recent and accurate campaign included full-train inspections over a six-month period, which revealed 3% of riders aren’t paying.
“We found that our original goals and the fare inspection strategy in place didn’t allow us to complete full train inspections and was thus proven to be ineffective. Our former strategies weren’t aligning with increased service levels and passengers volume,” said the report.
For every 1% of riders who don’t pay, it results in approximately $5 million in lost revenue, according to Metrolinx.
“Unfortunately there will always be a small percentage of people who will look for ways to scam any system, which is why transit agencies establish fare enforcement systems and policies,” said George Bell, Metrolinx’s vice president of safety and security in the report.
According to the report, a new fare protection approach was implemented on April 1, 2019, which included a zero-tolerance strategy for fare evaders. Now, if a passenger fails to show a valid ticket upon request by an officer, they will be issued a notice of violation and a $100 fine.
To combat the problem, Metrolinx says 12 new full-time revenue protection officers have been hired, and they are slated to begin on June 1.
“With the 12 new Revenue Protection Officers and an enhanced revenue protection strategy, we are anticipating a revenue gain. Our 2019/2020 goal is to reduce fare evasion by 25% (from the current 3%), yielding an annual fare recovery increase of $3.75 million,” the report said.
“Revenue protection is a significant priority for Metrolinx.”