By Rhonda Dredge
Sometimes you forget to touch on and a friendly figure at Flinders Street Station opens the gate with a flick of her special myki card.
She is usually casual and bored, glad for an excuse to exercise her judgment and give you a break.
Last month, however, the authorised officers were out in force, congregating in groups of three around the exits to Southern Cross and Flinders Street stations.
It takes a thief to catch a thief and officers have been forced to be more strategic since the government axed on-the-spot fines.
Card readers have become more important in the fight against crime, with officers doing checks on the records of possible offenders as they leave the station.
Alice McBroom was nabbed at Southern Cross without having touched on properly. The inspectors were right onto her but because of her regular use of the myki system she was let off with a warning.
The new more understanding approach to fare evaders has made it more difficult for the government to recover an estimated loss of $33 million per annum put down to evasion.
Yet figures on how much was gained in revenue through tactics that have been labelled as bullying by the Public Transport Ombudsman are not readily available on the Department of Transport site.
Officers are not talking to the press about the new regime yet is their presence on the street indicative of a shift in thinking on evasion?
One inspector on the Wattle Park line was prepared to speak to the CBD News off the record. She was wearing a flak jacket with a lime green scarf and khaki bag.
She said that she was happy to work alone on the trams during daylight and was heading off to catch evaders attending sporting events at Hisense Arena.
A follow-up visit to this stop is a warning to all those who take children to
tennis, gymnastics, footy or pantomimes for they’re all held behind a particularly high fence.
Dads may be particularly vulnerable if they drive to work. A chance outing without a record of regular myki use could cost them over $700 in the court for a small lapse in memory while keeping the youngsters under control.