Fare dodgers and staff abusers to face tougher penalties as TfL rolls out new policy

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Fare dodgers and passengers who abuse staff are set to face tougher penalties, after Transport for London (TfL) announced new security measures yesterday (February 09).

As part of the rollout, penalty fares will go up to £100 from £80 as part of an ongoing effort to deter fare evaders, and staff members will be required to wear body cams as part of their standard kit.

The news comes shortly after TfL published data which suggests fare evasion is on the rise, with 19,614 people prosecuted for the offence last year – a 56 per cent increase on 2022.

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The company said it is committed to tackling fare evasion, since ticket sales create income which is vital for to maintaining a safe, clean and reliable public transport service. It’s estimated that evasions cost the company £150 million a year, and TfL works hard, a spokesperson says, to ensure this cost is made by fare dodgers themselves, rather than honest customers or the tax-paying public.

The penalty for fare evasions has increased to £100 across TfL services, a spokesperson has said. Photo: TfL.The penalty for fare evasions has increased to £100 across TfL services, a spokesperson has said. Photo: TfL.
The penalty for fare evasions has increased to £100 across TfL services, a spokesperson has said. Photo: TfL.

This latest penalty hike – which was approved by London Mayor Sadiq Khan – follows the Department for Transport’s decision to increase the penalty fare to £100 across Network Rail. Although the penalty price on TfL services will be reduced to £50 if paid within 21 days, it’s hoped this will ensure the rules around travel remain as consistent as possible across London, and that the penalty fare remains an effective deterrent.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “TfL relies on revenue from fares to be able to deliver the safe, clean and reliable public transport that Londoners deserve. Fare evasion deprives us of much needed revenue and so I welcome this tough new action from TfL to increase enforcement and ensure more fare evaders are brought to justice. Latest figures show real progress is being made, but I will continue to work with TfL and the British Transport Police to crack down on fare evasion, and build a better, safer and fairer London for everyone.”

Fare evasion incidents often trigger violence and aggression towards staff, a TfL spokesperson said, which is why the company has made body worn video (BMV) part of its essential kit for frontline customer facing staff. The cameras film incidents in 60 second loops and footage is automatically saved once the camera is recording.

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Research suggests that the deterrent provided by BMVs can almost halve the risk of violent assaults on members of staff and, if the incident is captured, it can provide vital evidence to police investigations, meaning better outcomes when offenders go to court.

"Everyone should be able to go about their day without fear or intimidation and TfL will always work with the police to push for the strongest sentences possible for offenders,” a spokesperson for TfL said.

Alongside all this, the transport company has improved its ability to investigate and detect prolific offenders causing the greatest revenue loss through something called an irregular travel analysis platform (ITAP). The system detects fare evasion and revenue loss by analysing patterns in passenger data, identifying people who avoid paying for all or part of their journey. The information supports and informs penalty measures like those announced yesterday, targeted email campaigns, a register of repeat offenders and operational station deployments.

One recent case investigated by TFL staff found that a passenger who had been using a contactless card for travel, and failing to properly validate their journeys, had racked up £1,200 in unpaid fares across a total of 193 trips. The passenger recently attended court, where he pleaded guilty to the offences.

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Siwan Hayward, TfL’s Director of Security, Policing and Enforcement, said: “The overwhelming majority of our customers pay the correct fare, however a minority do attempt to travel without a valid ticket. Fare evasion is a criminal offence. Fare evasion robs Londoners of vital investment in a safe, frequent and reliable transport. Fare evasion impacts our customers and our staff, and can make public transport feel unsafe. Sadly, fare evasion is often a trigger for violence and aggression towards our colleagues. We strive to ensure that wherever possible it is fare evaders themselves, not fare or tax payers, pay the cost of fare evasion. As today’s data shows, anyone who fare evades will be caught and have to pay the consequences.”