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Just under €500k was collected in fare evasion fines on public transport during the pandemic

Capacity on public transport services was greatly reduced after the arrival of Covid-19.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews.ie

ALMOST HALF A million euro has been paid in fare evasion fines on public transport since the arrival of Covid-19 in Ireland, even as capacity on such services was vastly reduced.

Since the start of the pandemic to 29 September, both Irish Rail and the company which operates the Luas have collected over €200,000 in fare evasion fines. 

However, in the same time period, Dublin Bus collected just €500 from standard fare notices as it ceased its Revenue Protection Unit on 14 March. 

As part of the restrictions introduced by the government at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, public transport capacity was severely curtailed to accommodate social distancing and other public health measures.

From late March, public transport began to operate timetables varying from 45% to 80% of normal capacity. This was later reduced to 25% of normal capacity.

Under the current Level 5 restrictions, public transport is again at 25% of normal capacity.

The figures were released to Social Democrat co-leader Catherine Murphy via parliamentary question.

On Irish Rail services, €259,824 was collected in fare evasion fines from 1 March to 29 September. 

A fine of €100 is payable plus unpaid fare for those found to be travelling without a valid ticket on Irish Rail services. If this fine is not paid, you can face a fine of up to €1,000 upon conviction in the District Court.

On Luas services, payments in connection with Standard Fare Notices issued over the same period amounted to €231,300.

Under this system, those found to be travelling without a ticket are issued with a standard fare notice. If they pay it within 14 days, then a reduced rate of €45 applies. However, it will cost €100 if it’s paid after that and must be paid within 28 days or a person will risk a court summons.

On Dublin Bus services, nine standard fare notices were issued between 1 March and 29 September. Eight fines were paid at a rate of €50 and one was paid a rate of €100. 

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In a statement, a Dublin Bus spokesperson said: “Dublin Bus operates a fleet of 1,000 buses and carried 142 million customers last year. Given the size and scale of our operations, fare evasion on services is quite low. 

“Due to capacity restrictions on board, and health and safety measures in place to keep our customers and employees safe during Covid-19, the Dublin Bus Revenue Protection Unit ceased operation on 14 March this year. The figure of €500 was the standard fare amount paid for March 2020 only.”

In the first three months of last year, Dublin Bus collected €3,980 in fare evasion fines compared to €2,725 this year. 

A spokesperson for Transdev – which operates the Luas – said: “The revenue collected from standard fare notices by Luas has been impacted by Covid-19. Since restrictions on public transport commenced in February 2020 the number of passengers traveling by tram has fallen substantially. 

“Currently trams are operating at less than 25% capacity in accordance with level 5 guidelines. Naturally, the revenue collected from standard fares has fallen as a result.”

About the author:

Sean Murray

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