FARE evasion on public transport is 'out of control' in Queensland because the cost of doing the right thing remains unaffordable, a lobby group says.
RAIL Back On Track (backontrack.org) is a web based community support group for rail and public transport and an advocate for public transport passengers.
Spokesman Robert Dow said the April 2014 TransLink data confirmed that fare unaffordability was "at its worst levels ever."
"Observations by RAIL Back On Track Members around the network on all modes suggest that fare evasion is now out of control.
"This is no great surprise with the high cost fares and failing fare system - two very different fare technologies that allow the system to remain wide open.
"Paper single tickets are now at obscene cost levels - $5.20 for a one zone paper adult ticket!"
"If you think that fare evasion does not occur on buses or ferries think again.
Both Sydney and Melbourne fare evasion rates are highest on buses.
"We don't know what the exact situation is in south-east Queensland as data is not published as for other jurisdictions, but it would be naive in the extreme to think it is not much different.
"Sadly, bus drivers particularly are increasingly being subjected to fare-rage and other unacceptable behaviours.
"People threatening bus drivers should be sanctioned legally. High cost fares that many cannot afford to pay does not help at all."
"Compounding the fare evasion crisis is the fact that Queensland is the only state or territory of Australia that does not extend concession public transport fares to the unemployed.
"Regular commuters in employment are struggling to pay high cost fares in south-east Queensland, how on earth can the unemployed? They have few options, and now are being forced into criminal behaviours. What a sad outcome for our society, this will be very costly in the longer term."
Mr Dow called on the government to get rid of paper single tickets.
"Give go cards to the unemployed and grant them concession fares.
"Reset the base fare costs, increase the off peak discount.
"Allow children to travel free with a fare paying adult on weekends and public holidays.
"Get rid of the free after 9 paid journeys in a week and re-introduce 50% fares after this cap.
"This will stop the massive fare rorting and fare box leakage by cashed up 'suits' which further reinforces a ' fare-evasion culture '."
The comments come as the government put out a statement saying "record numbers of bus, train and ferry passengers are taking advantage of the Queensland Government's free travel after nine weekly journeys.''
Transport and Main Roads Minister Scott Emerson said since the policy was introduced almost two years ago about 78,500 people a week were benefiting.
"As part of our strong plan for a brighter future we are delivering real savings for passengers with more than 7.1 million free journeys taken since June 2012," Mr Emerson said.
"Many of these trips would not have been taken without the incentive of free travel with the policy encouraging passengers to choose to get out of their cars and on to public transport.''
"Under our policy a passenger using their go card travelling to and from work five days a week can travel home for free on Friday and then enjoy free travel all weekend.
"This is on top our efforts to end Labor's annual 15 per cent fare hikes by capping fares rises for the next three years to be below the inflation rate.
"Under our policy a regular passenger travelling two zones to and from work will save around $750 per year, and anyone travelling from the Sunshine Coast or Gold Coast will save up to $2500 each year, compared to go card prices under Labor."
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