TfL Trialling AI To Catch Fare Evaders On The London Underground

TfL is trialling artificial intelligence in a bid to curb the rising rates of fare evasion on the London Underground, so beware to all you barrier jumpers out there.

Technology that is able to identify passengers likely to jump ticket barriers has been successfully tested at Willesden Green station and TfL now plans to expand the trial, rolling out the software on other stations on the Underground to link its AI software with the network of station cameras.

Passengers at the tube barriers
Credit: charnsitr / Shutterstock

Fare evasion has been a rising issue that TfL have been facing with recent data showing that one in 25 tube journeys is unpaid causing a loss of over £130 million a year. Figures also show that there has been a 26 per cent increase in penalty fares being served on fare dodgers between April and September, compared with the same period last year so it’s no surprise that TfL are taking more measures to crack down on fare-dodging.

Siwan Hayward, TfL’s director of security, policing and enforcement, has assured that the technology will not be used as a ‘facial recognition tool’. She comments “The pilot project was able to detect fare evasion attempts through the gate-line and enrich our data and insight on fare evasion levels and methods. Following a review by our safety, health and environment team, we will be progressing this to an in-station trial to monitor its effectiveness.”

Tube barriers
Credit: I Wei Huang / Shutterstock

TfL have proposed to increase the penalty for failing to pay the correct fare from £80 to £100 although it has yet to be approved by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.

There will also be an effort to crack down on passengers using wide aisle gates to evade fares. Designed for access for wheelchair users, those with children with prams and pushchairs, and passengers travelling with large luggage, fare evaders are able to push through the gates more easily and also tailgate behind a paying passenger as the gates close slower. TfL will use the information from the AI pilot to design more secure “wide aisle” gates and to improve its existing “irregular travel analysis platform”, which gathers data on fare dodgers.

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