Why do people fare evade? A global shift in fare evasion research

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

economics - fare revenue, economics - subsidy, literature review - literature review, ridership - attitudes, ridership - behaviour


Fare evasion, revenue compliance, public transport, transit


Fare evasion is a significant concern for most transit authorities. The traditional approach to fare compliance has focussed on modifying the physical control of ticketing or ticket inspection rates. Yet recently the perspective on fare evasion has begun to shift toward profiling the fare evader or understanding the customer motivations to fare evade. This paper uses a literature review method to document the characteristics of these three perspectives on fare evasion: the conventional transit system perspective, the customer profiling perspective and the customer motivations perspective. We find that the conventional transit system perspective, although straightforward to measure and control, has its limits particularly in “open” transit systems. The customer profiling perspective attempts to identify, based on demographics, which customers are more likely to fare evade. However this perspective has little use beyond profiling and is ethically questionable. The customer motivations perspective provides a richer understanding of how customers define fare evasion and what attitudes, social norms and circumstances motivates them to fare evade. Considering that between 20% and 40% of a city’s residents admit to fare evading at some point, understanding these complex motivations can help improve revenue compliance at a time when most governments heavily subsidise their transit systems.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Taylor&Francis, copyright remains with them.