Fare evasion rate in Transantiago continues fluctuating around elevated figures. The public transport system in Santiago de Chile closed 2016 with one its highest rate ever: 34,6%. A year later, the service managed to reduce the figure 10 points to 23,7%. However, during the first term of 2018, the rate has increased again, reaching 28.5%. Thus, almost one out of every three riders does not pay for their use of public transport.
Transport and Telecommunications ministry in Chile determines there are two main reasons for the rise in fare evasion rate in Transantiago. On the one hand, the increase of 20 pesos in ticket prices decreed by the former Administration. For every 10 pesos rise in tariffs, fare evasion rate increases one percentage point, according to the Public Ministry.
On the other hand, the reduction in ticket inspections. Police forces dedicated to other activities due to Papa Francisco’s visit. Consequently, controls during the first three months of 2018 dropped more than half. There were 175,853 ticket inspections between January and March in 2017, whilst only 76,435 during the same period in 2018. As a result, fines fell by 60.3%.
Plan to reduce fare evasion rate in Transantiago
Given the high fare evasion rate in Transantiago and its relation with the fall in ticket inspections, the government has eradicated the shortfall in controls. In April alone, ticket inspections increased by 68,8% in comparison to the previous month.
In addition, the Administration will implement a new law against fare evasion in June. The regulation will give greater powers to ticket inspectors and enforce higher penalties for assaulting them. It will also toughen fines. Tax refunds will be withheld and it will be impossible to obtain or renew documents such as the driving license or the school pass.
These initiatives follow some of the suggestions stated in Public Innovation Laboratory’s study on fare evasion. The report also recommended increasing charging points and their operating hours, service quality and “zonas pagas” – areas that allow passengers to pay for their ticket before boarding–. In addition, the paper requested a stricter attitude towards fare dodgers by bus drivers.
In parallel to the new anti-fraud law, the Ministry will outsource fare evasion measurement to the National Institute of Statistics (INE). The objective is to reach a new methodology which puts an end to the existing high volatility of the rate. Also, achieving a more global indicator by incorporating other modes of transport in Transantiago a part from buses, such as metro.
The current methodology to quantify fare evasion in Santiago de Chile is limited. The ministry chooses 63 bus services randomly taking into account different passenger flow. An undercover observer rides them, registers how many people pay and how many don’t and obtains averages. As a results, figures differ greatly across time and do not represent reality reliably.
Applying a new calculation approach is greatly supported. Nevertheless, some experts have warn about its repercussion: a new method implies not being able to compare results in the short run. As a solution, former Transport sub secretary, Carlos Melo, suggests carrying out both methods to have a comparison base for the upcoming year.