Misbehaving Metrolink passengers face a major crackdown from today.
New byelaws will impose swingeing £1000 fines for a raft of nuisance offences including swearing, smoking and vaping, drinking alcohol, being drunk, misuse of the emergency handle and dropping litter.
Tram bosses have run a series of warning campaigns throughout the year featuring cartoon “Metrolink Monsters” like Smokey Joe, Drunken Duncan, Litter-Lout Lenny and Vaping Vera.
The gentle persuasion will give way to tough measures to enforce the stricter rules.
The ban on drinking alcohol or people being under the influence of drink or any illegal substance also extends to stations. Eating food likely to “soil, disfigure of destroy” trams, stations or the property of passengers is also banned.
Metrolink managing director Aline Frantzen said: “Behind the light-hearted nature of the campaigns is a serious message. There are some unacceptable behaviours which spoil the Metrolink experience for law-abiding passengers, and we want to make it clear that these actions have serious consequences.
“From January, those who engage in illegal activity will face fines and court action, so it’s better for everyone to avoid becoming a ‘Smokey Joe’ or a ‘Naughty Nelly’.”
Danny Vaughan, Transport for Greater Mancherster’s Head of Metrolink said: “It is unacceptable that people should have their journey experience on Metrolink spoiled by the inconsiderate and ignorant behaviour of others.
“The byelaws exist to prevent this from happening so our message is clear – from January you are far more likely to be prosecuted and fined up to £1000 if you choose to ignore or flaunt them.
“The Metrolink Monsters campaign has been highly visible across the network and will hopefully serve as a reminder to people of the consequences of their behaviour.”
In another bid to prevent anti-social behaviour, TfGM is a step closer to being able to ban troublemakers from Metrolink and bus services altogether.
Greater Manchester metro mayor Andy Burnham’s application to extend TfGM’s powers under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014, is expected to complete in the New Year following debates in Parliament.
With more than 240 million journeys made on the region’s buses and trams each year, the chance of being a victim of or witness to thuggery remains low, but year-on-year increases have been reported by Metrolink, bus stations and bus services, rising from 2,334 reported incidents reported in 2013/14 to almost 4,000 in 2016/17.
Mr Burnham said: ““While the number of incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour are small compared to the number of journeys that are made every year, such incidents can and do erode confidence in a person’s decision whether or not to use public transport.
“That is unacceptable and I will not allow the small minority who intimidate, threaten or abuse transport workers and commuters to think they can do so with impunity.
“Not only would granting TfGM these powers enable fast and effective protection for victims, it would set a clear standard of behaviour for perpetrators, stopping it from escalating without criminalising the individual.
“I am committed to doing everything I can to ensure people are and feel safe when they use our trams and buses, that is why we made the request and that is why I urge Lords and MPs to get behind this amendment.”