Passengers abuse bus drivers over freeloaders
GOLD Coast bus drivers are being abused and threatened by full-paying passengers fed up with the youth freeloading crisis.
Drivers say law-abiding commuters are becoming "more aggressive" with kid bludgers using buses to "intimidate" others and terrorise the community.
Two weeks ago, the Bulletin revealed armed youths were using the public transport before and after robberies as "free taxis".
"The paying passengers on the bus are becoming more and more upset with the occurrence and incidents caused by fare evaders," a driver told the Bulletin.
"They get abused and intimidated by fare evaders.
"They themselves are starting to become aggressive and I had one such customer this week who threatened to punch me for letting fare evaders on the bus.
"They have to put up with bad language, rubbish scattered through the bus and malicious actions and vandalism and loud music they do not appreciate - all from people who should not even be on the bus."
One driver estimates one in 10 juveniles fork out for fares and he says there is nothing they can do about it.
"They will go to shops and steal as well as threaten people and rob them. This is the group where the older ones will decide what car they want to steal and go joy riding," he said. "Then at the end of another fruitful day they catch their free taxi home."
Young fare evaders often raise the 2003 abduction and murder of 13-year-old Sunshine Coast teenager Daniel Morcombe as a reason they do not have to pay.
Transport authorities direct drivers to press designated "fare evade" buttons that were installed in Coast buses in 2015.
TransLink said: "All public transport users suffer as a result of the actions of a minority.
"These are lost funds that would otherwise be used to improve services for all users, such as increasing frequency of services, adding new services into growing areas, and expansion of hours of services."
The Queensland Government employed eight new senior network officers in December and is recruiting up to 14 more officers, to bring the total number of officers to 71.