FARE evaders on the trams are threatening the viability of the transport system and the possible second stage of the light rail, says Councillor Dawn Crichlow.
Since paid services started, Gold Coast light rail patronage has exceeded targets with an average of 17,800 trips made each day. However statistics received from TransLink indicate close to 2500 penalty infringement notices have been issued for fare evasion.
Crichlow says this doesn't take into account those who have got away with avoiding the costs and she says that fare evaders are detrimental to the lobbying for the extension of the light rail to Helensvale.
"We need to have the right people using this public transport network urgently so we can convince the state government to do the second stage of the light rail prior to the Commonwealth Games," says Crichlow.
"While there are evaders taking up space, there could be fare paying people.
"Everybody I am speaking to wants the second stage of the light rail to happen and they are angry at the people that are evading the fares and impacting the figures."
Trams are patrolled by TransLink's senior network officers (SNO) and the G:'s customer service officers (CSO), with both teams offering a revenue protection presence.
"Sixty-nine SNOs patrol the entire public transport network in south-east Queensland, including buses, trains, ferries and trams, whereas a team of 28 CSOs work solely on the light-rail system," says a TransLink spokesperson.
TransLink adds that it does not believe fare evasion rates are impacting the viability of the system.
GoldLinQ CEO Phil Mumford says most passengers are doing the right thing on the trams, but those few travelling without valid tickets aren't being fair to the rest of the community. The extent of fare evasions has caused GoldLinQ to launch a campaign urging people to pay their way.
Mumford says it will undertake regular operations on the network with police and TransLink SNOs to scout evaders.
"This includes tram and station blitz's as well as plain clothes operations, in addition to our regular G:link staff working every day," he says.
"Fare and ticket campaigns will be a regular feature of our operations ongoing and the message is simple; just buy a ticket before getting on the trams."
Patrons will receive a fine of $227 if caught on the trams without a valid ticket.
Crichlow has this message to fare evaders: "You will be caught."
"I have had some people complaining about the cost and I have no sympathy for them because tram travel is inexpensive," she says.
"I say keep on putting on the inspectors and police on those trams to educate the people that you will get caught."
The G: reached over 1.74 million passengers in its first 100 days of operation. A comparable system is the Edinburgh light rail that counted 1.5 million passengers in its first 100 days.
Get our daily business news
Sign up to our free email news updates.