Grandmother appalled by this habit
A GOLD COAST grandmother is calling on the public to stick up for bus drivers who are being abused by fare-evading schoolchildren.
Robina woman Bev Tronc said she was "shocked and disappointed" by the number of students she saw refusing to pay for travel on the school bus route she took with her granddaughter this month.
"We were on the bus hoping to work out my granddaughter's journey to school when I saw all these kids hop on without paying," Ms Tronc said.
"I didn't realise what they were doing. I honestly thought it was a program and asked the bus driver about it."
To her horror, she said she was told that the youths were simply taking advantage of a policy designed to protect them.
"We saw about 20 kids hop on the bus but only one swiped their card," Ms Tronc said.
"The poor driver was just about pulling his hair out. The fare evasion button just kept on going, ping, ping, ping, ping."
One stop after another Ms Tronc said she watched the young passengers pile on without paying.
"Schools are limited in what they can do, so are bus drivers, so I do feel like it is up to us as parents to say something and ask kids where that bus money is going.
"I agree with the policy to keep kids safe, but this was too much. Public transport doesn't pay for itself.
"The issue really isn't about the money, it is learning to pay your way and doing your bit."
In March, a Bulletin report revealed the "fare evade" button on Surfside school bus runs was hit 763,944 times in 2017-18, triple the 238,195 hits just two years earlier, costing taxpayers $500,000 in lost revenue.
In June, the Bulletin also reported the ongoing efforts in schools to curb the problem, by teaching bus etiquette.
Veteran Gold Coast bus driver Johnny Po said the issue was "not going away anytime soon".
Instead he wanted TransLink to provide drivers with a vandal-proof barrier to preventing anti-social attacks.
"Contractors have to train their drivers to ignore fare evaders and look the other way and not get into an argument over a $2.40 fare," he said.
"Drivers must learn to drive only and not interact with these mongrels who could care less for the other passengers let alone the operator (bus driver). The selfish are concerned only with themselves."
Mr Po said on a Saturday evening drive from Tweed to Broadbeach he could pick up more than 50 fare evaders.
A TransLink spokesperson said TransLink in partnership with Queensland Police have been conducting joint operations across the Gold Coast's public transport and shopping centre hubs including Robina most recently.
"The purpose of these operations are to proactively target anti-social behaviour and fare evasion across the public transport network on the Gold Coast," the spokesperson said. "Based on the success of these operations, we will be planning and rolling out further joint operations at hotspots across the Gold Coast."