Ticket barriers are being left open up to 16% of the time at some tube stations in Islington TfL data that I have uncovered has revealed. The increasing trend for barriers to be left open is making life easy for fare dodgers, after TfL estimated over £61m is lost to fare evasion each year.
Whilst real-time data on whether ticket barriers are left open is not collected, TfL undertakes regular unannounced ‘mystery shopper’ exercises to monitor whether ticket barriers are left open. Across the whole tube network barriers were left open 6.91% of the time in June and July this year, compared with only 3.18% of the time over the same period in 2011. Since 2011 the percentage of ticket barriers being left open has increased every year.
TfL data provided to me showed that some stations consistently left ticket barriers open for long periods of time. Caledonian Road was Islington’s worst offender with gates left open 16% of the time. Across the capital 20 stations saw their ticket barriers left open more than a quarter of the time.
Whilst technical faults can cause ticket barriers to be left open, TfL rules state that when there are no members of staff available to help passengers on the gateline the barriers must be left open. TfL plans to axe 950 station staff could exacerbate the problem and lead to millions more pounds in fares being lost.
According to their latest estimates TfL loses £61.47m each year due to fare evasion on the tube.
The vast majority of Londoners are honest about these things but there will always be a small minority who take advantage and try to avoid paying their fares. We should be doing all we can to crack down on fare dodgers, not making life easy for them by leaving some station ticket barriers open more than half the time.
By cutting 950 staff from stations TfL risks having to leave ticket barriers open more often, making fare evasion that little bit easier. It’s a total false economy if the money saved by reducing staff is then lost as a result of increased fare dodging.