SR News can reveal the areas on the Tyne and Wear Metro Map with the most fare-dodgers.
Over the past three years, the postcode areas with the most people fined on Metro were NE6 and NE29.
NE6 and NE29 have appeared for the past three years as being the areas with the most offenders. NE6 is the area of Heaton, Byker and Walker, whereas NE29 is in the Murton, Chirton and North Shields area that Metro covers.
Local Councillor of Heaton John-Paul Stephenson condemns this offending: “I don’t think people realise that Nexus is a not-for-profit company,” Coun Stephenson said. “We need to stop calling it ‘fare dodging’ and start calling it ‘theft’. It isn’t a case of refusing to give more money to the stereotypical fat, rich man. It’s withholding money from society. Public transport is funded for the collective good.”
Other areas of high Metro fine rates included NE3, which is in the Gosforth area of Newcastle, and NE28, which is near Wallsend.
Metro Communications Officer David Punton explained why these are the areas most affected by fare dodging: “The most common type of fare evasion is short journey fraud, where people hop on a train and travel one or two stops without a ticket. These areas have stations that are ungated and it is not possible to staff every single station on the Metro system.”
Councillor Stephenson blames zero-hour contracts for why people are tempted to avoid paying for tickets when they may have only been at work for a few hours. “I don’t condone theft,” he said. “But the shameful reality of 21st century Britain is that some people need to save a couple of quid to get to work or to job interviews.”
In the 2019 general election campaign many political parties made pledges to improve transport systems across the country. The Conservatives promised to “give city regions the funding to upgrade their bus, tram and train services” and Labour promised to “deliver improvements for rail passengers by bringing our railways back into public ownership.”
However, Mr Punton said that action is being taken now to tackle the issue of fare dodging: “We have increased the number of customer service staff to record levels,” he said.
“We now do more roving ticket inspections on board trains in all areas of the system and we even had operations where ticket inspectors operated in plain clothes. There are also more targeted evening patrols in conjunction with the Northumbria Police Metro Unit.”
Featured image credit: PA Images