There we were thinking our fare inspection on a Finglands bus the other day was a rare occurrence. It turns out that they're more common than you'd think, especially at Stagecoach who have been running 'Revenue and Gateway Checks' in conjunction with Greater Manchester Police for at least the past year.
A Stagecoach Manchester staff member sent us this photo of a poster currently on display at one of the company's depots. It reveals some interesting information about just how huge the problem of lost revenue on buses is. Across the 5,787 buses and 94,221 passengers checked between April 2008 and March 2009 a total of £23,892 in lost revenue was detected. That's an average of 25p per passenger searched. That a huge amount a fare dodging, and far more than we'd thought likely.
74 arrests of members of the public were made during the inspections, although whether they were for ticket forgeries and other fare evasion isn't noted.
The bottom part of the poster seems a little sinister though. It reads: "These checks are focused on deterring antisocial behaviour and ticket fraud by passengers, but it is both disappointing and embarrassing to note that during these operations 61 drivers were relieved from duty for ticket irregularities, most of which have now lost their jobs and some have a criminal record".
This makes us wonder why these drivers lost their jobs. After all, driving a bus, handling money and dealing (sometimes pretty antisocial) members of the public can be a difficult. If someone sneaks on without paying, especially someone who might appear, shall we say, 'dangerous to deal with' can't drivers be forgiven for turning a blind eye occasionally?
Likewise, forged tickets can be a little difficult to spot at first glance. We know - we used to live with someone who made almost perfect Megarider forgeries. We never used one of them, we hasten to add. If we knew we were looking at a forgery and couldn't tell the difference, how difficult would it be for a driver with a big queue of passengers and a timetable to keep to be expected to tell the difference?