MORE than 200 tram commuters have been fined for failing to show a ticket in the month since the project went live, new figures reveal.
An average of nine passengers a day – 216 in total – have been hit with a “Standard fare” penalty for not presenting a ticket or failing to validate their Ridacard since the £776 million network launched on May 31.
A cash fare for an adult passenger in the City zone costs £1.50 but the threat of a £10 charge hasn’t been enough to deter some travellers from fare dodging.
But tram expert Simon Johnson, editor at Tramways & Urban Transit magazine, branded the figures “low” and trumpted the city’s efforts to persuade people to buy tickets.
He said: “Nine passengers a day being penalised is not a large number of people.
“Obviously the tram operators don’t know how many people are effectively dodging the fare and getting away with it but there’s no way of telling that. The main point is at the end of the day the ratio is pretty good.
“I know operators in other cities who charge higher penalties but reduce the amount if it’s paid within a certain timeframe like a week. But there seems to have been a lot of work done to encourage people to buy tickets.”
More 50 ticketing service assistants (TSAs) – on a starting salary of £17,000 – have been employed to check every passenger ticket and travel card on all journeys. Extra staff are drafted in during peak periods. They have all undergone extensive conflict resolution training to better enable them to deal with abusive or drunk passengers.
It is understood there have been no reports of violent tram passengers since the project went live.
Tom Norris, director and GM of Edinburgh Trams, said the ticketing system was working. He said: “In the main, we’re finding that our passengers have the correct ticket or a validated smart card which is really positive sign for us at this early stage for the new service.
“Our ticketing services assistants have worked very hard in recent weeks to inform passengers about the ticketing systems and we’re seeing this effort pay off.
“It’s hugely important for any new service that revenue is protected right from the very start and, whilst we do issue some standard £10 fares, in the grand scheme of things the number is very low.
“However, our prices are reasonable and everyone on board should have a valid ticket so we are prepared to issue the Standard Fare where appropriate.”
It has been reported that a rogues’ gallery of repeat fare offenders will also be kept within a database with images collected through the ticket inspector’s personal cameras and the tram’s own CCTV network. Those who are kicked off the tram can then be blacklisted for up to a year.
Tram operators reported more than 130,000 climbed aboard a tram in the first week since the May 31 launch.