16 youths from the Oldham area have been fined a total of £2,629.20 at a special youth court event recently held at Bury Magistrates Court. All the youths were taken to court after they failed to pay a standard fare charge, which is issued to anyone caught travelling on the network without a valid ticket.
Greater Manchester’s Travelsafe Unit (TSU) has been working alongside Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd to carry out a number of proactive operations targeting fare-dodging on the network. This has included visits to schools to educate youngsters on the dangers, impacts and consequences of crime, antisocial behaviour and fare evasion on public transport.
Peter Cushing, TfGM Metrolink Director, said: “Tackling fare evasion is extremely important, particularly as it sometimes goes hand-in-hand with other types of anti-social behaviour.
“Progressing these cases to court is not a decision that has been taken lightly, but we need to challenge the mind-set among some people that it is acceptable to try and ride the tram for free, particularly those who fail to engage with us or that fail to pay if caught fare dodging. It is a vital responsibility of TfGM as the owner of Metrolink, Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd as the operator and the TSU to change the behaviours and attitudes of these young people now, to prevent them from committing further offences in the future and facing more severe punishments. Public transport is a safe way to travel in Greater Manchester but it is important that we continue to work together to help reinforce and maintain that through targeted interventions and proactive operations.”
Carla Taylor, Revenue Recovery Manager at Metrolink RATP Dev, added: “Our figures over the past 12 months show young people under the age of 18 are responsible for 20% of all fare evasion. Of that amount, 64% are aged between 16 and 17 which is what prompted us to tackle the issue head on among this age group. Taking anyone to court, especially a young person, is not a priority for us and we view it as a last resort. Our main focus is to look at the bigger picture and educate young people around the consequences of not buying a valid ticket before travelling on Metrolink. We’ve done a lot of work with schools, colleges and academies in known hot-spot areas to provide a better understanding of the impact of fare evasion. So far, this has proved extremely successful with many not being aware they could be prosecuted for not having a valid ticket and that all our trams and platforms are fitted with CCTV. Over the coming months we will continue to work with schools to address the behaviours of students around fare evasion.”