Security Journal

, Volume 23, Issue 1, pp 5–17 | Cite as

Deterrence and fare evasion: Results of a natural experiment

  • Ronald V Clarke
  • Stephane Contre
  • Gohar Petrossian
Original Article


Before 2005, the city of Edmonton's transit security staff served only its Light Rail Transit (LRT) not its buses. During 2005, the city redeployed the security staff to serve the buses as well. This meant that fewer ticket checks could be made on the LRT, which operates an ‘honor’ system of fare collection. Subsequently, in early 2007, it was decided to issue more fines and fewer warnings for evading fares on the LRT – a decision that was not publicized. Using weekly data for 163 weeks, this study examined the effect of these two changes on rates of LRT fare evasion. By the end of the period the risk of being checked for fare evasion had declined by a factor of nearly four, whereas the risk of being fined, if caught without a valid ticket, increased by a factor of 15. Despite these substantial changes in levels of enforcement, no clear trends were apparent in weekly evasion rates during the entire period. Possible explanations were explored for these results, including that the changes in levels of enforcement were not perceived by potential fare evaders. The implications of the findings are discussed for situational prevention and for transit authorities using ‘honor’ fare collection systems.


mass transit fare evasion situational prevention deterrence fine enforcement evaluation 



Thanks are due to Tana Vea who helped to develop the fare evasion crackdown and to Mike Derbyshire and Ron Gabruck, respectively, the former and current Director of Transit Security, Edmonton Transit System, for their support of this study. Finally, we thank Michael Maxfield and Joel Miller for statistical advice and Phyllis Schultze for her considerable help with the literature review.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald V Clarke
    • 1
  • Stephane Contre
    • 2
  • Gohar Petrossian
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Criminal Justice, Rutgers, The State University of New JerseyNewarkUSA
  2. 2.Edmonton Transit SystemEdmontonCanada

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