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Deterrence and Fare Evasion: Results of a Natural Experiment

NCJ Number
Security Journal Volume: 23 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2010 Pages: 5-17
Ronald V. Clarke; Stephane Contre; Gohar Petrossian
Date Published
February 2010
13 pages
Using weekly data for 163 weeks, this study examined the effect of 2 security changes on rates of Light Rail Transit (LRT) fare evasion in Edmonton, Canada.
Before 2005, the city of Edmonton's transit security staff served only its LRT, not its buses. During 2005, the city redeployed the security staff to serve the buses as well. This meant that fewer ticket checks could be made on the LRT, which operates an "honor" system of fare collection. Subsequently, in early 2007, it was decided to issue more fines and fewer warnings for evading fares on the LRT, a decision that was not publicized. By the end of the study period, the risk of being checked for fare evasion had declined by a factor of nearly 4, whereas the risk of being fined if caught without a valid ticket increased by a factor of 15. Despite these substantial changes in levels of enforcement, no clear trends were apparent in weekly evasion rates during the entire period. Possible explanations were explored for these results, including that the changes in levels of enforcement were not perceived by potential fare evaders. The implications of the findings are discussed for situational prevention and for transit authorities using "honor" fare collection systems. 4 figures, 2 tables, 9 notes, and 28 references (Publisher Abstract)