Ticketless riders amount to almost 300,000

The number of people trying to ride free has been going up slowly

The number of passengers getting caught without a ticket on Prague's public transportation system every year has been slowly increasing, but the demographics remain the same.

The concept behind the ticket inspections is not to catch violators, but to prevent people from “riding black,” long-term ticket inspector Vladimír Junek told daily Pražský deník.

Ticker inspectors, known as revizors, gave out a total of 299,533 fines last year totaling the total of Kč 139 million. During the last four years, the number has risen slightly. This is despite the cost of the annual pass being reduced two years ago to what works out to Kč 10 per day. While sales of the discounted pass have been very successful and have increased overall ridership, it has not stopped the problem of theft of services.

Junek said that the typical passenger without a ticket is someone from the edge of society or people who ride ticketless as a form of adrenaline sport for the feeling of risk.

With socially disadvantaged people, revisors often have to make a judgment call on whether or not to levy a fine as the people are not in a position to pay it, and can use whatever money they have for more pressing needs like food, Junek said.

Foreigners and tourists are another large group often caught without tickets, and the number stays steady throughout the year. Some 20,000 foreigners are caught each month, Prague Transit Company (DPP) spokeswoman Aneta Řehková told Pražský deník.

Lack of understanding of the rules is a big issue for foreigners, as the system in their own country might be different. People do not know they need to stamp the tickets, for example.

People who often ride without tickets now have what revisors call a stone face. The most common excuse is that the rider has an annual pass but left it at home or in another handbag. What is also common now is for people not to order a ticket via SMS until they see a revisor on a tram. They then argue that the virtual ticket was delayed due to poor mobile phone service. 

Currently there are some 160 revisors in Prague and an increase in not expected. Ticket inspectors have to identify themselves by showing a badge. Passengers are then required to show the inspector a valid ticket. If the rider does not have a valid ticket, the inspector can issue a fine that can be paid on the spot. The fine is Kč 800 if it is paid on the spot or within 15 days. If not paid within that time, the fine is Kč 1,500. If a person left their pass at home and produces it later, the fine is Kč 50.

There can also be fines for oversized luggage and other violations, but those are rarely given out.

According to the DPP website, the combined number of people transported each year on trams, buses and metro trains is a staggering 1.18 billion, which works out to 3.2 million people per day. This includes people making multiple trips such as to work and back counting as two passengers. Annually there are 461 million people using the metro, 369 million using trams and 357 using buses.

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