Nexus has spent millions of pounds on gates and validators over the last five years, SR News Freedom of Information (FOI) request reveals.
Figures released from Nexus, following a SR News FOI, show that a staggering £2,224,562.04 has been spent on the electronic gates over the last five years, with £2,353,129.56 spent on validators since 2012 to 2015.
Nexus has invested in 196 brand new validators to compliment its new ticket system and the rollout of its new Pop cards, used in a similar way to the Oyster card on the London Underground.
A spokesman for Nexus said: “Since we launched our new smart ticketing system in 2012, it has proved a real success. All new systems require some fine tuning on the technical side but overall the technology is working well.
“For more than two decades, Metro was an un-gated system, so we knew it would take time for passengers to get used to the new technology.
“However, two years on from launching it, the majority of people are using the system with ease and we expect that to continue.”
The yellow validators are used by Metro passengers who have the Pop cards to ‘touch in’ and ‘touch out’ to log the start and end of each journey so they are charged the correct fare of travelling between the stations.
Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, began replacing its out-dated gates across the network in 2012 as part of its £385 m all-change modernisation programme.
Also as part of the multi-million pound investment, new ticket machines were installed to complement the new gates and validators. And ticket gates have been installed at 13 Metro stations across the network.
Following these findings, SR News went to speak to Metro users. This is what they had to say:
Martin Rouse, 35, who uses the Metro to commute to and from Monkseaton to Manors, said: “I get frequently stuck at Manors which is my daily commute to and from – tickets not being accepted, causing delays to get through.
“I’ve seen people who haven’t paid for tickets trying to tailgate and pushed me through and almost tipping me over. Then at night, at non city centre stations, the gates are just left wide open for all to just walk through without a ticket as you know there’s never an inspector on the train.”
Another metro commuter, Helen Tiller, 32, uses the service to commute from Pelaw. She said: “We don’t have gates at Pelaw, but we do have two validators.
“On a regular basis one of them is out of order. This has been raised with Metro via Facebook and Twitter, they did reply to somebody else on Twitter to say they’d get an update (over a week ago).”
The spokesperson for Nexus added: “Metro station staff have a tough job checking tickets and preventing fare evasion. Our operator, DB Regio, is currently implementing some new training schemes to improve customer service.”
Emma Lewell-Buck, Labour MP for South Shields, said: “While constituents have not raised concerns specifically about the gates and validators on the Metro, I do get regular complaints about the general service.
“I have been working with Nexus and DB Regio for some time now and regularly hold them, as well as the Government for their lack of investment, to account for the poor service they are delivering.”
A Nexus spokesman continued to add: “Metro passenger numbers are currently at a five year high. Metro now sees 39 million passenger journeys per year, so that puts into context the low number of complaints we have received about our smart ticketing system since July, with only 19 complaints received.
“However, even one complaint is one too many, so we will continue to ensure we deliver a successful system.”
“Many hundreds of our customers are touching in and out of the system every day with a Pop card. If anyone has any difficulty then they should see a member of staff, or contact our customer service team on 0191 20 20 747, or email us at email@example.com.”