New squad to keep fare evaders off our trains
A new 32-member specialist Revenue Protection Squad will start work on Perth's passenger rail network from Monday, to back up the Transit Guard contingent while more were being trained.
Planning and Infrastructure Minister Alannah MacTiernan said the officers' prime focus would be to check that passengers had valid tickets.
The squad would operate on trains and conduct checks on station platforms.
"The overwhelming majority of train users do the right thing, but a stronger focus on fare checking will make our system better," Ms MacTiernan said.
"Experience shows us that fare evaders are often also likely to be those responsible for disruptive and anti-social behaviour.
"Annual surveys show that 98 per cent of customers feel safe on our trains during the day, but having more staff aboard could help encourage more people to use the network at off-peak times."
The Minister said there were currently 194 Transit Guards and 34 Passenger Ticketing Assistants.
The private contractors who made up the revenue protection squad would be deployed in addition to the guards and ticketing assistants.
"Like everywhere else in Western Australia's booming economy, the Public Transport Authority is having trouble attracting and keeping transit guards; currently we are about 30 down on full strength," Ms MacTiernan said.
"We have been able to keep two guards on every train after 7pm when trouble is most likely to occur.
"We also have guards on key stations during operating hours and our mobile Delta teams are always on patrol on each line, backed up by some of the best CCTV and security monitoring technology in the world.
"However, during the day, when problems are rare, we have had to cut the presence of guards on trains."
The Minister said a squad of 27 new transit guards had almost completed their training and would be on patrol in the next two weeks, with a new training intake scheduled for November.
"We are also recruiting an additional 100 guards to ensure we are prepared for the commencement of services on the Mandurah line in July next year," she said.
"Of course, it would be great to have more staff on our system at all times, but we have to strike a balance with the need to invest in our trains and facilities.
"With passenger boardings growing strongly, I think we are making the right decisions."