Revisiting the foundations of fare evasion research


Colin Boyd

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

ridership - behaviour


Fare evasion, Tax evasion, Inspection, Compliance


In 1986 the author wrote a paper about tax compliance that theorized that the output of tax inspectors would be constrained by the rate of evasion of tax payments. That paper was never subsequently cited in the literature on transit fare evasion, which presumed that ticket inspection had a simple unidirectional effect on evasion. This current paper argues that all subsequent models of the economic link between fare evasion and ticket inspection overlook the possibility of a bidirectional relationship between the two. The 1986 paper further argued that multiple equilibrium levels of evasion versus inspection might be found to exist, and that evasion could therefore possibly theoretically be tipped from one level to another. This current paper suggests that the periodic concentrated deployment of inspectors might be a novel enforcement strategy that takes advantage of this phenomenon. The paper concludes with suggestions for the deceptive manipulation of passengers’ perceptions of the probability of being detected as a fare evader.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


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