Fare evasion plummets on former bendy routes

Recorded fare evasion has fallen since the bendy bus was axed. Image: TfL
Recorded fare evasion on former bendy bus routes has plummeted since they were converted to standard single and double decker buses, according to Transport for London figures released to MayorWatch.

The recorded fare evasion rate on route 38 in 2009, the last year bendy buses ran on the route, was 6.20%. In the following year the rate fell to just 1.23%.

On route 149 the pre- and post-bendy rates were 9.85% in 2010 and 0.75% – half the network average – in 2011.

Route 18 saw evasion rates fall from 8.05% to 2.35% following the withdrawal of bendy buses.

Figures for the current year suggest evasion rates for routes 12, 25, 29, 73, 207, 436 and 453, which were all converted in 2011, have also fallen.

The figures would appear to support Mayor Boris Johnson’s decision to axe the bendy buses, which he claimed had driven up fare evasion on some routes.

However TfL is unable to confirm the levels of revenue protection activity on each route before and after conversion, making it difficult to know whether protection activity has remained consistent.

TfL told MayorWatch that it uses “an intelligence-led deployment process” for allocating revenue protection officers and that: “resource allocations are based on passenger check rates and geographic areas that show high levels of evasion, so for this reason deployments are not usually route specific. Due to this, hours spent per route are not recorded.”

Despite promising a “war” on fare dodgers earlier this year, TfL delayed implementing the Mayor’s decision to increase penalty fares for those caught without a valid ticket.

On its website, TfL warns passengers it is “increasing the number of plain clothes operations across the entire transport network” however the number of revenue protection officers employed on the bus network has fallen over the last five financial years.

An FOI response shows that in 2008/09 average headcount was 283, down to 242 in the current financial year.


  1. @markvauxhall says

    You hit the nail on the head in your article. We don’t know if we’re comparing apples with apples here. When travelling on a bendy bus, you would occasionally get 10+ revenue protection officers swoop on the bus. I’ve never seen this on a double-decker, which would make we question the accuracy of the calculation. I’d also be curious to know if revenue passenger growth on these routes has been in line with the rest of London, or if it’s declined because the journeys are slower, and vehicles have less space for pushchairs etc.