Prague launches campaign against 'black riders'

The city hopes to educate people into riding with a proper ticket on public transit

Despite public transportation in Prague being cheap compared to other cities, some people still ride without tickets of passes.

A communication campaign is being launched by City Hall along with the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) and transit operator ROPID. The city is also contemplating reduced fines for people who agree to buy an annual pass.

The joint project aims to reduce the number of illegal passengers, or “black riders,” in mass and integrated transport in Prague. At the same time, the campaign wants to communicate positively with passengers who don't ride black.

The information campaign has the motto “It is normal to pay!” (Normální je zaplatit!). It was jointly launched by Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek, DPP transport director Ladislav Urbánek and ROPID director Petr Tomčík. They agreed that statistics show the number of ticketless passengers has been growing steadily and needs to be tackled.

“We want to show the younger generation in particular that riding without a ticket is not cool. Everyone should realize that traveling to the detriment of others is, on the contrary, stupid and embarrassing. The black passenger is on a similar level to someone who goes to a store and does not pay for the service he or she gets,” said Deputy Mayor Dolínek said. He is the City Hall official responsible for transportation issues.

The first phase of the campaign will be preventive and focus on educating people about “forgetfulness,” according to the City Hall website. The aim is not to catch someone, but to ensure they are properly informed. “When paying for a year-round ticket, passengers travel for Kč 10 a day. Compared to other European and even some Czech cities, this is the most advantageous price,” ROPID's Tomčík said.

On some public transport means, passengers will see double-sided stickers to remind the forgetful that they have to buy a ticket. “Prague has the fourth-best urban transport in Europe. If this is to remain the case, we must all take part in it,” DPP's Urbánek said.

Another aspect of the campaign will be a half penalty. If passengers do not show a valid ticket at the random inspection, they will be able to pay only Kč 400 instead of Kč 800. The condition is that the fine will not be paid to the inspector on the spot, but they will have to show an identity document to the transport inspector and in a short time buy an annual coupon for Kč 3,650. “I will advise the City Council to discuss this measure in the near future and start it as soon as possible,” Dolínek said.

Honest passengers who show a valid travel document will be given symbolic rewards, such as buttons. Children will receive the children's tickets from the inspectors so they can learn the right habits. Part of the campaign will be short films on the topic of mass transit, located on the advertising space in the subway.

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