Friday, May 23, 2014

When it comes to fares, GO Transit customers are honest and loyal - yes, this includes the bag riders, the footriders and the door donkeys

from: Steph Y.
to: ""
date: Fri, May 16, 2014 at 8:54 AM
subject: Fare inspections

This morning was the first time in a long time there was a fare inspection on my route. It was also conducted as were approaching Union and I was rudely awaken from my slumber, minutes before I needed to, so I could show my Presto card. Annoying at best. Why before Union?! So rude. I don't understand why fare inspections happen so far apart. I can't even remember the last time one was done on any train I was on. In my opinion, they should be more frequent and at the beginning of a trip, not at the end when all of us are settled or hoping to get a few Zzz. I'm a mom to a 8 month old that can't sleep at night so I'm sorry if I come across as crabby, the train is my time to sleep. I tap religiously but I always wonder how many of my seat mates don't tap and take their chances on a fare inspection. I would say it's really high. I think about all the free rides I could have taken since Christmas and the money I would have saved. You'd think they would aim for once a day, randomly or course, on each route. I'm not a logistical engineer and I guess the infrequency is probably due to not enough staff to go round. Anyhow, thanks for listening to me vent.
Steph (use my real name but first initial for last please - love your site btw!)

from: SLK
to: ""
date: Tue, May 6, 2014 at 8:24 AM
subject: Lakeshore East Ticket Checks

I am fully in agreement that we must all pay our fare to ride transit and that GO has the authority to check that fares have been paid. However, on the early Lakeshore East trains into Toronto, we have been checked 34 times between February and the end of April 2014. I witnessed one person being caught for fare evasion and another was warned over that period.  I checked with coworkers who use other routes to get a sense of the level of checks on their routes – From Oakville – checked once for 2014; from Newmarket 2 checks for the year. From anecdotal evidence it would appear that the express trains and later morning trains on the Lakeshore East have not been checked anywhere near as often as the earlier trains. GO patrons are now extremely unhappy at the selective and unrelenting treatment that seems to be yielding very little reward. I was told by a GO ticket checker that it will get worse before it gets better. So what gives?

According to GO Transit Security, the team of transit officers (late night and special events) and fare inspectors (rush hour, weekend, non-event) check three million PRESTO cards annually and are proud to report that GO Transit passengers' have less than a 1% fare evasion rate.

Regardless of how you feel about your supposedly dishonest seat mates, or the intrusion of a fare inspection, or the infrequency and frequency of checks, they need to happen and despite the general on-board discourteous behavior of others, we are largely a compliant and non-free loading bunch. 

I'll attribute the 30,000 people who were caught as those who forgot to tap in good faith (most of us have done this one time or another, and then fretted the whole train ride, or begged forgiveness during an inspection) and I'll lump in the people who fare jump on purpose into that figure. 

Thieves do no not deserve our sympathy. They deserve our wrath of which I have plenty to give. 

Fare is fair. Full stop.


Anonymous said...

Tracey, I would say it just happens to be where on the train you are sitting.

If you are at one end of the train and they start the fare inspection just after leaving Milton, it can take the entire hour to get through the 11 cars before getting to yours.

Yes, they may have missed a few people that got off earlier, but what do you want them to do? Have 24 inspectors on one train at once?

Rehan Q said...

People actually complain about this?!

First world commuters. Wow. Come to India.

Bicky said...

I'm on the 5:53 am train out of Whitby. Since March 1st until today, I've had 32 fare inspections. Most happen in the morning, after Rouge Hill and near Guildwood.

I think the increase in checks started in January. And last year, I got checked twice from October to January. I'm just curious if the later trains get checked as often.

And yes, it's all about the randomness.

Squiggles said...

Gah! It got to the point on my morning train where we were betting if they were going to hit us with an inspection for a third day in a row. Then it settled to about once a week. Almost never on an evening train, unless it is after 6pm.

It is irritating. But they need to start spreading them around.

Valentino Assenza said...

As someone who commutes on the GO Train 2-4 times a week on the LSW line, I really can't formulate much of an opinion as to how selective inspections are. I'd say that out of 16 rides per month, I'd see about 2-4 fare inspections.

I really haven't attempted to go the fare evasion route because if you do get busted it's kind of embarassing, and if it happens during rush hour it's VERY embarassing. Especially if you're in a "Quiet Zone" or an area of the train where people are "Zenning" out the last thing you want is a give and go between the officer and the passenger who is searching her mind for the best "I never paid excuse."

I do feel for the fare inspection officers that gotta do the morning rush hour routes on LSW. By the time the train hits Clarkson often times people are standing in the middle of the aisles throughout the entire train. How the fare inspectors manage to navigate themselves across full cars is astounding to me.

One question I've always had though, is now that Presto is a large part of the payment process, and the fare inspectors use a device to see if you've tapped on. For those that haven't tapped on would there not be away to deduct the funds on the machine? Rather than busting someone and having to put them on the "three strikes and you're out" record?

Jack C. said...

Definitely a marked uptick in inspections on the LSE. I take the 6:26 from Ajax to Union. I'd say that in 2013, I was inspected maybe three or four times all year. Since about February, a morning trip without an inspection has become the exception, not the rule. In the past three months, 4 or 5 inspections out of 5 days is typical. Haven't been inspected once in the evening yet this year, though.

My seat mates and I were taking bets on which station we'd be closest to when the inspectors came through. One day, a seat mate said, "I'm just going to close my eyes for a bit." I replied, "Okay, but you know that's the signal for the fare inspectors to arrive!" Sure enough, ten seconds after she closed her eyes, in marched the inspectors saying, "Tickets please!" The inspectors were puzzled as to why we were laughing so hard at that time of morning. A few days later, same thing. My friend closed her eyes and I said, "You know what that means..." Almost immediate, in trooped the inspectors. They've definitely become a staple of our morning commute.

George said...

Valentino if they deducted fares when catching people like you suggest then there goes all incentive to tap. Why should I tap if when caught I simply have to pay the fare normally?

Now if they doubled and added a service fee to people who get caught that might be worthy of a trial.

Anonymous said...

Want to stay ahead of the fare inspectors?

Buy one of those walkie-talkies, set it to their channel and speak all kinds of gibberish which will slow them down.

C.J. Smith said...

^ So spend money to pay no money?
People can't even shell out $8 for one way fare but they're gonna buy some high end sat radio walkie talkie? Um...

FRED said...

^ I can't even...

TomW said...

Had a fare check this morning. Woman in opposite quad takes out her Presto card, and puts it on her lap (near the top of leg). Fare enforcement person asks for card, lady says grumpily "it's right there". Fare enforcement person says "I'm not picking it off your lap"... woman then picks up with big sigh. (Card reader makes happy beep)

I had no idea what this woman's problem was with holding up her card...

George said...

GO uses networked radios so if you want to listen in you had better get a radio with the correct access codes in it.

They use to use the Mike system but recently changed to something else.

Packet radio is quite secure.

Unknown said...

Summer weekend service on Barrie & Niagara line have ticket inspectors onboard the train.