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Aux armes, citoyens! Sautez les tourniquets! - EXCELSIOR, YOU FATHEAD!

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June 23rd, 2010


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04:36 pm - Aux armes, citoyens! Sautez les tourniquets!
Well now this is... something, all right.

A group of habitual subway fare evaders in Paris have formed an insurance group that pays the fine if a member gets caught. The rough equivalent of $8.50 a month insures you against the $60.00 fine. Now admittedly, that's a pretty clever if nebulously fraudulent scheme: You pay a pittance while the RATP still gets its fine. It follows the letter of the law (if indeed the law doesn't mind criminal liability insurance) if not the spirit.

What really fires up the calliope on this circus of fun, though, is that the group's philosophy and fervent belief is that solidarity in turnstile jumping will strike what Rik the People's Poet would call a "wevowutionaway bwow" to the capitalist metropolitan transit systems. You can only make a claim if you attend their monthly meetings. I can treat an insurance fund with bemused respect, but when there's a Cause attached to it, I admit I start to giggle.

The article in the link is giggling, too, as evidenced by little pieces of snark such as this nugget:
But for Gildas, a rebel whose unshaven cheeks, longish hair and John Lennon glasses seem straight out of French central casting...
Mi-aou, fashion police.

I couldn't see someone trying this in Boston, mostly because turnstile jumping is still largely ignored. You'll walk out of one of the automatic gates and before it has time to close a kid will rush right in past you. Sure, the buzzer will go off, the kid will run down to the train and nobody will bat an eye. Enforcement is pretty lax, but then again everybody's used to false positives. That buzzer just loves to go off, even when you're legitimately walking through.

Still, you can't say the T isn't trying something, since Deputy Chief Paul MacMillan reminds us every fifteen minutes that "faih evazhin is a violashin of Massachusetts General Lawr." I'm still not sure if the crackdown has progressed past the finger-waggling. Has anybody actually seen a jumper get nabbed?

And I wonder how the service is in Paris these days...

(13 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


[User Picture]
From:gee_tar
Date:June 23rd, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
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There was one time when I saw a booth attendant take an obvious violator aside, though I didn't stick around to see what, if any, punishment the perpetrator was dealt.
[User Picture]
From:pseydtonne
Date:June 23rd, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC)
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The green line drivers will still let you sneak onto the back of trains going outbound if you don't make a noise about it. You sneak in with everyone leaving and stay out of sight. This tends to work best on the D train, where there are always people getting on at Fenway outbound.

I've also seen the continuing odd event of drivers that put a hand over the reader and wave people on the train. In theory the train is running behind, so not collecting fares speeds up the run. However there has to be something else to it.

In contrast, I had no problem with metro service in Paris. The only schmuck staff I saw were in Marseille, but that's Marseille.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:June 23rd, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
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I've also seen the continuing odd event of drivers that put a hand over the reader and wave people on the train. In theory the train is running behind, so not collecting fares speeds up the run. However there has to be something else to it.

The T bus drivers often wave you by if you've got a paper ticket pass with the right date on it and there's a line waiting to board. They won't wave through folks with the Charlie Card, though. My theory is that one second of scanning-and-dinging is easier on the schedule than the five to ten seconds it can take for that paper ticket reader to scan, rescan, and rescan again. Technically there's no money lost -- you've pre-paid for a daily or weekly pass -- but ridership numbers are skewed.

Another example of the T's own technology and low-bidder philosophy coming back to bite itself. Ignoring gate buzzers because of too many false positives, schedule-cognizant drivers refusing to use a not-perfect paper scan system, all sorts of fun.
[User Picture]
From:nathanw
Date:June 24th, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)
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This is one of the reasons that a bunch of buses are equipped with an entirely separate people-counting system (look for the bicycle-style reflectors near the doors). They also count people exiting, which makes it genuinely more information, but the unreliability of the fare data is certainly a big part of the point.
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:June 24th, 2010 12:34 am (UTC)
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I remember some of the Paris stations having faregates that were almost floor-to-ceiling doors. They'd be pretty hard to jump. That was a long time ago, though.
From:lno
Date:June 24th, 2010 01:00 pm (UTC)
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It's been over 10 years since I lived in Boston, but I seem to recall the Green Line was free outbound above ground back then. Is this something that officially changed but some drivers don't care, or am I woefully misremembering my Boston geography?
[User Picture]
From:mmcirvin
Date:June 24th, 2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
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Not everywhere above ground, just outbound of certain stations. And I can't find any mention of it being true any more, though it's been a while since I had occasion to find out.
[User Picture]
From:derspatchel
Date:June 24th, 2010 09:24 pm (UTC)
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They got rid of the free aboveground outbound fares (and the free rider on Sunday if you had a monthly pass) perks when they put the Charlie Cards in, so that was around 2006-2007. A bit of a bummer.
[User Picture]
From:greenlily
Date:June 23rd, 2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
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I've always thought the supposed crackdown on fare evasion, along with the trouble you supposedly get into if you refuse to give an MBTA cop your name when he asks, was a ruse to give MBTA cops a leg to stand on. If they find themselves called upon to throw someone off the train, and they need a reason other than that the person is [obnoxious, loud, inconsiderate, teenaged, homeless, filthy, otherwise an offense to tax-paying citizens who just happen to have the cop in question's supervisor on speed-dial], fare evasion is tough to disprove; you don't get a receipt from a turnstile.

Edited at 2010-06-23 09:17 pm (UTC)
[User Picture]
From:contradictacat
Date:June 23rd, 2010 09:19 pm (UTC)
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Then there was the time I got pulled aside to see if I'd paid, despite the fact that it hadn't buzzed when I went through or anything. I still don't know what was up with that. But...my card record showed I'd paid and all, so.
[User Picture]
From:metahacker
Date:June 23rd, 2010 10:16 pm (UTC)
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The part I'm not understanding is how being in a group amortizes the risk. I guess if you jump turnstiles a LOT, you get a benefit over those who jump less, but you could just put a few nickels in a box each day and be a revolutionary group of one...
[User Picture]
From:minkrose
Date:June 24th, 2010 01:02 am (UTC)
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Man, is THAT what those buzzers are for?? I thought it was cards not reading properly or something. They go off so often, I had no idea what purpose they were serving.


Sad.

I've never seen anyone slip through so I've never seen anyone caught. Maybe people don't do that on the orange line where I am. I HAVE seen people get on the E line without paying but I've also seen the conductors call them out on it. They asked them to come up and pay but of course, the person DIDN'T come up and the conductor can't do anything about it because they can't leave their seat. Assholes like that make it more expensive for the rest of us. If they did have a legit pass, the conductors are fine if you just flash it at the mirror and go in the back.
[User Picture]
From:nathanw
Date:June 24th, 2010 03:31 am (UTC)
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I've twice seen transit police hassling someone about fare evasion; both times at Central Square. I've also started checking behind myself before entering fare gates, so that I don't let someone slip in behind me; if there's someone there who looks suspicious to me, I'll wait until they go away, or find another entrance.

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