Over 27,900 cases of fare evasion took place on the London Underground last year, a Freedom of Information request has found.
The figure is higher compared to last year, where 27,413 occurrences took place.
The number has been increasing year-on-year except for 2012 – when it fell by over 2,500 to 13,825 cases. It then rose by nearly 8,000 to 21,810 the next year.
The statistics combine two different ways in which fare evasion is reported. Penalty Fare Notices are when people are charged for their first offence (such as failing to touch in their Oyster card), whilst Irregularity Reports are when individuals are considered for prosecution for repeat offences or other issues such as using a forged ticket.
Steve Burton, Transport for London’s Director of Enforcement and On-Street Operations, said: “The overwhelming majority of our customers pay the correct fare, however there is a minority who do attempt to travel without a valid ticket.
“We take fare evasion of any kind extremely seriously and we have reduced fare evasion on our rail and bus networks to around two per cent of all journeys, which is low compared to other transport authorities around the world.
“We widely communicate the consequences of being caught without a valid ticket and anyone failing to pay a Penalty Fare Notice is referred to a debt recovery agency.
“We are also working towards measures that will improve our ability to pursue those who don’t pay,” he said.
The data also revealed that from 2010 to 2014, over £2.6 million was collected in court costs for successful prosecutions for fare evasion for the underground. These costs are one of many sources of income used by the Transport for London (TfL), with money also coming from penalty fares and maximum fares income.
For the past two years, the most fare evasion offences took place on the Jubilee line, with the highest number of incidents before that (between 2010 and 2014) taking place on the Victoria line.
The request also discovered that there are currently 13 underground stations with one or more gate-free entrances. These include:
- Chalfont & Latimer
- Finchley Central
- Kensington Olympia
- Mill Hill East
- Roding Valley
- South Kenton
- South Woodford
- Woodside Park
The other three stations have ungated entrances temporarily. Euston Square will have a new gateline layout this year, whilst Crossrail enabling works at Moorgate has caused there to be gate-free access at the station. Bromley by Bow currently has no gates at present due to improvement works being made.
Despite not having a gate line, these stations do use card readers at entrances and exits for passengers to tap in and out.
More information about the penalties and enforcement procedures for fare evasion can be found on the Transport for London’s website.