21 August 2007

Complete Idiot's Guide to Fare Evasion

1) Fare evasion is best run as a numbers game. I tram to and from work everyday. With a yearly ticket this would cost me $1094, 12 monthly tickets would cost me $1228.80, or 52 weekly tickets would equate to a princely $1435.20.
In reality though I pay between $400 and $500 dollars. I achieve this by purchasing weekly tickets and only validating when absolutely necessary.

2) Fare evasion is a balance between the savings generated by buying fewer tickets and the increased expenditure due to fines levied against you for fare evading. The level of risk you wish to run in this balancing act will determine your success. Because fines are around $250, just 2 per year will eat up any profit you are making by fare evading. I personally try to make a 10-trip ticket last a month, and avoid fines altogether.

3) I limit my risk of being fined for fare evading by the following methods:
a- Where possible I sit at the back of the tram on the left-hand side, this way I can look out for inspectors and be close to a ticket machine if I do need to validate. Other good spots are at the very front of the tram (though inspectors can get on behind you) or next to the ticket machine (but limited visibility).
b- I always have my ticket close to hand.
c- I never read or allow myself to be similarly distracted.

4) Plain-clothes inspectors are a big risk. They often:
a- Stand together or sit together.
b- dress warmly, especially preferring beanies.
c- Do not carry bags.
d- Are larger guys.
e- Work in groups of 3 or 4 men and 2 women.
* Plain-clothes inspectors will always check to see if the ticket machine is working when they get on board.

5) If you are caught try and argue yourself out of a ticket on the spot. Do not be fooled by inspectors assuring you that they will ‘just write out an infringement for their records – head office won’t fine you.’
Sort out some plausible excuses beforehand. Preferably ones that can be enlarged upon later should you decide to contest the fine.

6) My expertise is confined to trams. On a train I always buy a ticket.

7) Now and again it’s nice to doze off or read your paper. Validate. After long periods of paranoia and laserlike attention such periods are quite relaxing - almost festive. Besides, it’s only $2.70.