I went through the Melbourne Central station early this morning; not because of the train station itself, but to get to Coles. As I walked by the Elizabeth St. entrance on my way in, I noticed a group of people standing by the walls looking intently towards the passengers exiting the turnstiles. How odd, I thought. Maybe a group of tourists waiting for someone who was delayed?
Later, on my way out, the mistery was revealed when I saw one of the “tourists” approach a passenger, display an until then hidden badge and ask to see her ticket.
So, plain-clothes ticket inspectors. Clever. Usually they have three or four uniformed inspectors checking random people leaving the station, and those were there as well; the non-uniformed inspectors formed a second layer around those and, I guess, checked people who looked relieved to have passed the first inspectors without being approached.
However, I have to say that they were nothing if not conspicuous. I’m talking about ten, maybe fifteen inspectors forming a loosely defined circle around the turnstiles. You can’t help but see them, at least when you’re coming into the station.
And isn’t fifteen inspectors overkill, even at peak hours? I’d love to see a report on how many fare evaders they catch on any given day, and what effect they have on evasion in general. (and how exactly do you evade fares at Melbourne Central? you have to use your ticket to leave, and I guess anyone jumping the gates would be fairly visible)