Fare evasion is not only a matter of public transport economic sustainability, but also of safety and security. In some networks, skipping the fare can be a very dangerous act and can even cause victims. This is the case of the public bus system TransMilenio in Bogotá, where fare dodgers climb the walls and cross the exclusive bus lane to get into the boarding gates, putting their lives in danger.
During 2018, 33 people died in accidents in which TransMilenio was involved. 13 of these victims were people trying to skip the fare. The others were accidents with motorbike drivers, bikes or pedestrian. The figure more than doubles victims dues to fare evasion in 2017. There were 22 deadths in total, of which 5 for skipping the fare.
There is no official data, but according to estimates, 200.000 people fare evade daily. This causes loses of 460 million pesos every day, which equivalates to a new bus.
Increased punishment acceptance, but also number of victims
The District has invested almost 3.600 million pesos in awareness campaigns to stop people from fare evading. These have improved fare dodgers reaction to the consequences of not paying for their use of public transport. However, it has not allowed to reduce the number of victims.
“El Pato” campaign costed around 2.000 million pesos and the anti-fraud team around 1.567 milliond. This allowed to increase by 25% the number of people than do not justify why they fare evade. Also, more than half of the fare dodgers accepted paying a fine or undergoing a pedagogical course, such as cleaning stations.
Nevertheless, it did not helped to reduce victims due to fare evasion. That is why TransMilenio will develop specific strategies to stress the importance of not risking your life to fare dodge. “Life’s value is not comparable to the cost of the fare” they state.
TransMilenio fare evasion situation is partly consequence to the poor service it offers. In order to fix this, the District will run a modernization and expansion plan to offer more capacity, security and comfort.
In mid-2019, Bogotá will have 1.441 new buses, of which 51% will run on gas, and more lanes. This will allow having additional 140.000 passengers and more travel frequencies, as well as reducing polluting. Furthermore, the new vehicles will have a camera system to monitor what is going inside. This initiative aims to reduce pickpocketing.
For more information on TransMilenio’s fare evasion issue regarding economic sustainability and safety, check El Tiempo’s article “Colados aumentan el número de víctimas de TransMilenio”.