From using their ticket as toilet paper to blaming an out-of-date machine, passengers on trains across Northern Ireland have come up with many an excuse for not paying to get on board.
Fines of more than £1,500 were issued last year to people who did not pay their fares, while another £2,508 was collected from 22 passengers for “ticketing irregularities”.
Translink NI Railways has revealed their top ten of the most outrageous excuses used by passengers who attempt to travel without paying for their tickets.
A part-time police officer was landed with a fine and lost his job after claiming his employment meant he didn’t have to pay.
Another passenger claimed “I am only travelling one stop”, while someone else maintained their taxes should surely cover the cost of the ticket.
Another common excuse is: “I didn’t hear the conductor asking if I needed a ticket – I was asleep/had my headphone on/was looking out the window”.
A student with a discount card claimed they were a year behind themselves last year while carrying an out-of-date travel card.
Others have used relatives as an excuse, with one claiming their brother’s job as a solicitor would get the conductor “in big trouble”, while another passenger told a line manager that his uncle was in fact the line manager.
A desperate passenger claimed they had to use their tickets in place of toilet roll, while someone else said the ticket machine must have printed the wrong date on their ticket.
Hilton Parr, Head of Customer Services, Translink NI Railways said those who try to dodge the fares will be caught and given on-the-spot fines.
“We’ve really heard every excuse under the sun from passengers for attempting to travel without paying,” he said. “Some of the best are included above! The majority of our customers are honest and pay the correct fare and as such it is only right that we take a tough line with those who try to fare dodge - the point I would make is that no matter who you are, if you want to travel on our services you have to pay.
Hilton said: “Some passengers probably take a chance to see if they can get away without paying, just to save a few pounds, but having a criminal record for an offence like fare evasion could seriously damage their long term future and ruin plans to work or even just travel abroad.
“You can buy your ticket at the Sales and Information Desk in the station or, if travelling from an unmanned halt, from the conductor as he passes through the train. In addition why not purchase your ticket from your mobile phone using the Translink mLink app.
“You can avoid the queues by pre-purchasing your monthly and weekly tickets online or by visiting the Sales and Information Desks up to four days in advance of your new ticket starting.
“There are several great value fare options available which makes travelling by train attractive, including one third off fares after 09.30 hours, iLink for integrated bus and rail travel and yLink which offers discounts of up to one third off fares for young people aged 16-24. Pay the fare or pay the penalty.”