HAVING Bendigo-based ticket inspectors would drive down fare evasion on the city’s buses, drivers believe.
Public Transport Victoria deploys authorised officers to buses in the Bendigo area from Melbourne to support bus drivers and to ensure passengers travel with a valid ticket.
Multi modal authorised officers are required to operate across the entire train, tram and bus network, so are not based in regional locations.
“Deployment of multi modal authorised officers is coordinated to maximise the effectiveness and deliver value for money for the state,” PTV says.
But a Bendigo bus driver, who wants to remain anonymous, says authorised officers only spend about two or three hours on the city’s buses.
They question the effectiveness of having the inspectors travel from Melbourne.
“They might get one or two [fare evaders] and fine them, but not the majority,” they say.
The bus driver says fare evasion is a regular occurrence, but there is little they can do to address it.
“Bus drivers are advised to ask passengers to touch on [their Myki card] and leave it at that,” they said.
As PTV says: “the issuing of ticket infringements is the role of authorised officers”.
“Drivers may also make announcements if they notice people not touching on which remind passengers that buses are regularly patrolled by authorised officers,” PTV advises.
“PTV works closely with local bus operators to target routes and times to ensure the most effective use of time and resources.”
The Department of Transport issued 110 fines for failing to produce a valid ticket or evidence of concession on Bendigo buses in the 2017-18 financial year, valued at a total of $24,258.
The Bendigo bus driver says there’s at least one fare evader on every run, on every route.
“Especially school time: 40 - 50 kids can board and one - five might pay. This is all schools,” they say.
“All bus drivers want locally-based inspectors.”
PTV says multi modal authorised officers often starts their shifts at Watergardens or Sunbury to increase efficiency when deployed to buses in Bendigo.
Shadow Regional Public Transport Minister, Steph Ryan says she can appreciate the bus drivers’ concerns.
She believes too much of Victoria’s regional public transport services is based in Melbourne.
“I think local knowledge is really important,” she says.
The government says more than 40 per cent of V/Line’s staff is regionally based.
“The government continues to review the most effective way to deploy authorised officers across the network,” a spokesperson says.
“We’re improving services and making our public transport ticketing system simpler and fairer for passengers across Victoria.
“We’re seeing record patronage and high levels of fare compliance on our trains, trams and buses.”
PTV recorded 95.1 per cent compliance on regional train services in October – a 1.1 per cent drop in 12 months – while metropolitan figures improved.
In 2018, the estimated revenue impact of fare evasion amounted to $38.9 million – of which, $5.9 million relates to regional trains.
But fare evasion is felt beyond the public’s coffers. Ms Ryan says ticketing data is how the government gauges patronage across lines – the information upon which service decisions are based.
“People who fare evade are ultimately dudding their fellow passengers,” she says.
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