Fine for fare cheats up from $20 to $50

Commuters caught dodging their bus and train fares or underpaying them will face stiffer penalties from Monday as the authorities look to tackle the rising numbers of such offences. The fine will be more than doubled, from $20 to $50, the Public Transport Council (PTC) said yesterday. The $50 penalty will also apply to those who misuse concession tickets.

Last year, there were 8,945 cases of fare evasion reported, a 30.6 per cent rise from the 6,851 cases in 2014. In 2013, there were 6,384 cases reported.

PTC figures show 57 per cent of last year's cases involved commuters not paying any fare; 36 per cent of the cases were commuters underpaying, and the remaining 7 per cent involved the misuse of concession cards.

Under the revised penalty framework, the composition sum for the three offences will be $100. Currently, the composition amount for non-payment or under-payment of fare is $50.

PTC chief executive Alvin Chia said: "The tougher measures are intended as a strong deterrence against the evasion of public transport fares..."

The $50 penalty will also apply to those who misuse concession tickets.

Introduced in 2008, the penalty fee has remained unchanged, and in the light of the rising numbers of fare cheating cases, the PTC said a review was timely. Before the penalty fee, fare leakage for bus and rail operators was estimated to be $10.8 million each year. This has since improved to about $5.1 million annually.

Enforcement action will also be more rigorous from Monday. Action could be taken against commuters who try to travel for free, such as by "tail-gating" others past fare gantries. Currently, they have to travel a distance before action can be taken against them.

Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport member and Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan said fare evasion or underpayment leads to a loss of fare revenue. "Bus and transport companies will lose fare revenue, and this will be borne eventually by all commuters."

Operators SBS Transit and SMRT declined to comment.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2016, with the headline 'Fine for fare cheats up from $20 to $50'. Print Edition | Subscribe