Tenfold tram fine hikes and new ticketing policy 'will bring fairness'

Metro bosses believe a huge rise in fines for fare dodgers and a new ticketing scheme will bring 'fairness' for all passengers. West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) board members are being recommended to increase penalty fares from the current £10 to £100, with a 50 per cent reduction if paid within 14 days, when they meet on Friday (June 14).

Alongside this will be a new 'Buy Before You Board' ticketing policy which will bring an end to people being able to pay fares after they get on the tram. Bosses said there is no date for when both the new fines and the ticketing scheme will come into effect but assured passengers it will be advertised well in advance.

The authority said the new measures will bring it in line with other tram operators and were supported by users of the service who they said felt it was 'unfair' to see others avoid paying their fares. The changes were first agreed in 2021 but factors such as manufacturing issues causing disruption to services and the Commonwealth Games meant they have been delayed.

READ MORE: Fines for West Midlands Metro fare dodgers set to rise 10 times the current level

They are now back on the table and will be discussed at the first board meeting to be chaired by new West Midlands Mayor Richard Parker on Friday. A report to the meeting said keeping the penalty charges at £10 would not be enough of an incentive to encourage people to buy their tickets before they got on board.

A West Midlands Metro spokesperson said: "The West Midlands Metro network was suspended during part of 2022 owing to a manufacturing fault on some of the trams. This disruption and the focus on the Commonwealth Games that summer meant it was felt that it was not the right time to add further upheaval for passengers by changing the fare system.

"We have not yet set a date to introduce buy before you board and the new penalty fares – but when we do this will be advertised to passengers well in advance and include a soft launch period to give customers time to adjust.”

"Whilst the vast majority of our customers travel with a valid ticket, from time-to-time they tell us how unfair it is that some people try to avoid paying the correct fare. The introduction of buy before you board, will bring us into line with the majority of other UK tram operators, and will help to ensure fairness as we look to further expand and improve our services to customers."