Auckland Transport intends doubling - for a second time in just over two months - its penalty fare for rail users caught without a valid ticket or tagged-on Hop card.

Its decision to impose the new fare of $20 from March 17 follows continuing wide-spread fare evasion, despite an increase of an initial penalty of $5.04c just last month to $10.30c now.

The penalty will also apply to passengers who tag on with their Hop cards before boarding trains but forget to tag off after reaching their destinations.

It comes ahead of a law change which Auckland Transport hopes the Government will pass by September to give ticket inspectors powers which they now lack - to fine fare evaders believed to be costing ratepayers and taxpayers up to $3 million a year in lost rail revenue.


Mr Edmonds also revealed that an investigation had begun into why "a steady 40 per cent" of passengers were still buying paper tickets, rather than using Hop cards, which offer discounts of at least 10 per cent on cash fares.

Although rail patronage picked up slightly in January a rolling annual total of 10,068,070 passenger trips was more than 800,000 lower than for the previous 12 months.

Auckland Transport expects to finish the financial year on June 30 almost two million rail trips short of the 12,376,000 it promised the council in a statement of corporate intent.

Public transport trips for the financial year, including buses and ferries, are expected to be 3.5 million short of the mark, at just under 71 million.