The £10 penalty fares for failing to buy a ticket on the Midlands Metro could be set for a sharp rise to £70 following a meeting of transport bosses.
The current fine of just £10 is so low that a fare dodger only has to get away with it three times before being caught to make the penalty pay.
Now the West Midlands Combined Authority is asking Government for the go ahead to introduce a new two-tier penalty fare of £70, or half-price of £35 if paid within 21 days.
It has now launched consultation with passengers and stakeholders and, after a formal application to the Department for Transport, hopes to get the go ahead to introduce the new fines by the end of 2018.
A report to the authority explained that the £10 fine was set during the early 1990s when the Metro was being planned.
Authority transport chief Roger Lawrence said: “When you consider a single ticket between Wolverhampton and Birmingham costs £4.10 the current £10 penalty offers no deterrent at all.
“It was introduced 20 years ago and is no longer proportionate to today’s prices.
“It is only fair that a more realistic figure is in place to protect those people who do pay their way by buying tickets or Swift cards.”
Along with Sheffield and Edinburgh, the Midlands Metro penalty fares are currently the cheapest in the UK at £10. The most expensive is the £100 charged on Manchester's Metrolink.
The authority has also asked for permission to increase the fare above £70 in future.
The line now runs between Birmingham Grand Central and St George’s in Wolverhampton city centre - 7.89 million passengers took the tram between June 2016 and May 2017, an all-time high for the Metro.
Cllr Lawrence said: “The Midland Metro will play a huge role in the economic growth of this region over the next few years – we will be seeing new lines built in the Black Country and Birmingham, moving millions of people to key locations such as the HS2 station and the airport.
“As part of that it is important an appropriate penalty fare is in place to act as a deterrent for people who think it is acceptable to travel on the system without paying their way.”
Meanwhile the authority has also signed off a £50 million investment in the Wolverhampton Interchange project to create a new rail station connected directly to the extended Midland Metro.
The development includes a new multi-storey car park and major office, retail and leisure complex, creating 1,300 jobs and levering £80 million of private investment.