Thursday, December 29, 2011

Does anyone pay for trains in Italy?

David came up with a genius plan to resolve the Italian economic crisis: make people actually purchase train and bus tickets. I don't know if you've ever been to Italy, but pretty much the only time anyone actually checked to see if we'd purchased tickets was on the High-Speed Eurostar trains. The rest of the time, as we dutifully bought and stamped our tickets, no one bothered to check.

As for the bus drivers, well, they don't even pretend to look at your ticket, and pretty much every native just hops on, takes a seat, and hops off. When we climbed aboard with tickets that had expired and tried to buy a new ticket, we even asked the driver what to do. He just shrugged and ignored us. So we joined the crowd and took a seat.

Seriously, though, they must lose millions of Euros a week, even on a 1-Euro bus fare. Then if you count the people who don't buy airport train tickets, the amount of money they're losing skyrockets. Those tickets cost us 48-Euros round trip, and we could have easily ridden for free (or maybe it's just a trick to subsidize the locals who know better, assuming the tourists pay triple). The one time (on a cross-country train, not an inter-city) we were asked for a ticket, a train official who we're pretty sure is distantly related to Mussolini told us we hadn't properly stamped it and owed 80 Euros. We refused to pay and just got on another train (where no one looked at our ticket), making the threat of a fine irrelevant.

After the way he treated us, I wished we'd never bought any tickets. That would have bought us a lot more pizza. But then again, we're just trying to help out a faltering economy, you know ... give a little.

Anyway, I think David's on to something there. If anyone from the EU is reading my blog, you might want to think about it. Then maybe give David a Nobel Prize or something, so he can stop going to school and hang out with me more.

1 comment:

  1. The "honor-system" European public transit methods are generally plagued by noncompliance. In Budapest, I never, ever saw anyone check a ticket on a bus, tram, or trolley. In the metros, which have more easily controlled access points, they actually did occasionally stand at the top of the escalators or on the platforms and check people, but even there, they preyed mostly on tourists -- evasion came rather easily to the natives.

    (For a darkly comic, and somewhat fantastic, look at the lives of BKV ticket inspectors, check out Nimrod Antal's 2003 film Kontroll)