A total of 1,740 fines for fare evasion on Belfast’s Glider transport service have been imposed by Translink, with penalties working out at an average of around £50.
The rapid transit link began operating in the city in September 2018.
Proponents of the service, which operates on seven or eight minute intervals throughout most of the day, say it has produced a 25% reduction in public transport journey times.
The Glider operates primarily along bus lanes and speeds journey times through off-vehicle ticketing, with passengers buying tickets or validating smartcards before travelling.
The number of fines imposed was disclosed by operator Translink in response to a Freedom of Information request.
It is unfortunate that people would try to jump on for free because public transport is already very underfunded and fare evasion is something that will have a detrimental effect on all of us.
Anne Madden, from sustainable transport charity Sustrans, said that inspectors frequently checked passengers on the Glider and that had helped to minimise the amount of fare avoidance.
“We are not aware of fare evasion being a big issue on the Glider,” she said.
Ms Madden further added that any attempts would currently “be more obvious” with less people using the service during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Glider has been a big success story for Belfast,” she said.
“We are pleased to hear progress is being made on the second phase from north to south Belfast.”
UUP MLA Roy Beggs, who sits on Stormont’s infrastructure committee and scrutinises Translink, said he was surprised there was “a significant number of people” who have been caught without a ticket.
“Public transport is a vital community service and Translink is under considerable financial pressure at this minute in time,” he said.
“It is totally irresponsible for anyone to attempt to evade paying the already subsidised public transport fare.
“There is obviously a need to continue to review the level of inspection so that the evasion is brought down even more.”