Go Card from TransLink, being used at Central Railway Station, Brisbane City.
Go Card from TransLink, being used at Central Railway Station, Brisbane City.

No penalty for thousands of fare evaders

OVER half of Queensland commuters who have been busted evading fares on the state's public transport network have escaped without a fine.

The Sunday Mail can reveal more than 82,000 adult commuters failed to pay in the past two financial years, but only about 31,500 were fined, with the rest let off with a warning.

About 48,200 minors were busted for fare evasion in the same period, they were all handed warnings, due to the "no child left behind" policy in Queensland.

In total, more than 50,000 warnings were issued to adult commuters in 2017-18 and 2018-19, resulting in a loss of about $13 million to TransLink, with no opportunity to recoup.

It comes as the public transport provider estimates that it loses about $25 million every year to fare dodgers.

Acting Transport Minister Mark Ryan said those who made a genuine mistake with their go card were given a warning, but insisted they would be issued a fine if caught out a second time.

"Unfortunately, students are responsible for 52 per cent of all fare evasion counts," he said. "Students aren't fined in Queensland. But taking advantage of the Government's commitment to child safety by refusing to pay your fare is unacceptable and unfair on other public transport users.

"The safety of children will always be our priority, but there is also an expectation that public transport users accept their responsibility to pay their fares for transport services."

Deputy Opposition Leader Tim Mander said the consequence for fare evading should be a fine, "plain and simple - a mere warning seems excessively generous for people who are in effect stealing public transport from Queensland taxpayers," he said.

"Warnings should be reserved for those with genuine excuses, not the majority".

Of the more than 2.2 million go cards that were scanned in the past two financial years, fare evasion was detected about 5.7 per cent of the time.

A TransLink spokesman said they had a dedicated revenue protection team of 57 senior network officers, with recruitment recently starting for an additional 14 officers.

"Almost 190 million trips were taken on all modes of public transport across the TransLink SEQ network last financial year and the majority of customers do the right thing by paying the correct fare," he said.