Those Salmon Flipping Fare Dodgers

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 102 months ago
Those Salmon Flipping Fare Dodgers

No, "salmon flipping" isn't what you say when you desperately want to swear but there's children present, it describes a method of fare dodging that we've probably all fallen foul of. The (artful) dodger gets right in front of their mark, or 'fish', at the ticket barrier and pretends to swipe their Oyster card. The fish then assumes the dodger has paid, puts their card on their reader and the gates open - for the dodger only. Researchers looking into fare evasion termed the act "salmon flipping" which, frankly, sounds like they had far too much time on their hands.

Apart from creating ridiculous terminlogy, the survey of 2,004 London transport users revealed 6% of tube and bus users have deliberately not bought tickets at some point since 2004, as well as 9% of mainline train users. (We imagine that's down to the lack of gates at so many suburban - and central - train stations. Watch fare evasion tumble as they barrier up for PAYG.) Not buying a ticket cost LU about £3m in the last year alone, and the survey team estimated that if all those fare dodgers had been caught and stuck with penalty notices, it would have raised at least £18.7m in fines.

Now, we obviously don't condone fare dodging, but with fares on the rise, the recession still with us and places where you can just genuinely forget to pay being squeezed out, we reckon scams will only rise. Especially now we (and every second news outlet) has just told you how to salmon flip. Wouldn't a fairer fare structure be fairer all round?

Last Updated 06 November 2009


Although I don't condone fare dodging, I have no sympathy for LU. The other day I took the tube from Warren Street to Leicester Sq. None of the ticket barriers at Warren Street were working so we were told to continue through and swipe our Oyster cards at our destination. Now *I* knew that this would result in a £4 charge being applied to my card (which I then had to queue up at a ticket window to get refunded), but how many of the other passengers would have known this in a very touristy area? LU tries to fleece you any way they can.


Here,here! How about organising a Fair Fare Fair? Inflexibility re congestion charge fines gives me the pip- Boris could be on a stand at the Fair,ready to defend Mayor's policy.Nice Mr Branson could be busy defending some of his extortionate rail fares. MPs could organise free catering, shoe cleaning and other useful attractions. Anyone else?


Fare dodging made easy, no not the title of a new book but based on daily experience of the London tube and rail system. I travel from West Drayton (zone 6) to Blackfriars. so train (no barrier at station), Paddington, usually playform 13/14, so over the bridge to H&C (soon to be Circle as well), no barier at paddington. At Farringdon, up over the bridge onto FCC (Thameslink in old money), then at Blackfriars, my first barrier, sometimes even this is open, so home to office with no barrier to cross.

Who needs to dodge a fare when the transport folk allow this to happen.

More so on the way home, more then often I do not encounter a closed barrier at all.


I also used to enjoy a barrier-free journey to and from work, travelling from Finsbury Park to Kensington Olympia, both of which lack barriers. Lest any TfL bods are reading this, I stress that I did regularly buy a monthly travelcard during this period, but on my work commute I seldom had to use it.


DeanN - exactly - I have a monthly zone 1-6 ticket (oystercard) but again, except for the bus it stays in my pocket, seldem used while on the rail network (tube or national).


Hell yes. For two years I travelled (on a travelcard) between Hither Green and Waterloo East. It got manually checked maybe once a month, if that. It's so easy to change bags or jackets and not take your card out as well, and not realise until/if you reach a station with a barrier, at which point a "fuck it" is in order. Combine that with not swiping in on a bendy when you've got a travelcard and TfL really are creating a culture of not paying.


Hang on a second. Some of the comments seem to imply a philosophy of "If there are no barriers, then who can blame people if they fare dodge?"

Should we apply the same logic to shops? If there's no beefy security guard at the door, should you just stuff your pockets with everything you want and walk out without paying?

Surely there's a certain element of trust?

To be honest, I'm pretty sure TfL would do a business case analysis of the cost of gating a station (and ongoing staffing costs) vs. money saved through reduced fare evasion. So if they're not gating stations, it's probably not economical... and in those cases, I'd prefer they didn't waste my money as a fare-payer.


The problem, I think, is not that a lack of barriers encourages people to think 'well, it's LU's fault' and fare dodges because of that (though I'm sure anyone with a cash flow problem that day would find it tempting), it's that it encourages a mindset where you don't pay. If you get out of the habit, it's so easy to forget. If there was a system of paying for stuff in certain shops where you could pay in advance and have a little card in your pocket to prove it if necessary, I bet people would accidentally shoplift all the time, or at least be more tempted.


I don't think for one minute that anyone (well on this site anyway) avoids paying their fare just because there are either no barriers or that the barriers are open. I was at paddington one evening waiting for my train, that night the station and regional managers of both TfL and First were there. So I posed the question of fare dodgers and leaving the barriers open. Yes as has been mentioned, the cost of operating the barriers and having a member of staff standing by to assist is more than the loss by fare dodging.