Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Tickets please

An outing in London. The bus stops at the stop and stays stopped. The driver is refusing budge because three people have got on via the back door and have not paid. At first, the three buscrashers - two guys and a girl - are so busy chatting they do not hear the driver. They may be pretending not to, but to be fair I am next to them and I cannot hear what he is saying. True, it is harder to ignore the glares from other passengers and the fact the bus is not going anywhere, but they chat away seemingly unaware. Finally, the driver opens his door and yells: "I'm not going anywhere until the three people who got on the back get off the bus." The three culprits look a tad shamefaced and have the good grace to get off without yelling, swearing or making a fuss. "What's his problem?" says the Frenchman nodding in the direction of the driver.

In France, half the bus has got on by the back door and not paid. If you get on at the front you can walk right past the driver without a bus pass, a ticket or the equivalent of an Oyster Card and nothing will be said. You are of course supposed to pay and in the unlikely event an inspector gets on before you have time to jump off you will be caught and fined. Or so they say. I think the fine is 25 euros (about £18.50) but I have never seen an inspector check tickets or issue one, so I would not know. Once I asked the Frenchman: "Why doesn't the driver make sure everyone pays." He replied: "It's not their job. Their job is to drive the bus."

I believe this tells you more or less all you need to know about the British and French approach to rules.


Dumdad said...


You obviously don't go on the buses much because I regularly see inspectors checking tickets on our local buses. There are usually about three or four inspectors together (safety in numbers) and they'll issue tickets as well.

But you're right about the French attitude of hopping on (and off) a bus and not paying.

Parisgirl said...

I use Paris buses all the time and I have never seen an inspector checking tickets. I've seen inspectors get on the bus and chat to the driver. I have never seen them check a single ticket. Maybe the tough ones are all out your way!

Sarah said...

I never use buses down here, but I do use the tram, and regularly see inspectors, in groups, get on and check tickets. Most people it seems have tickets or passes.

I believe it is only because of the threat of regular checks that most people do have tickets however.

(If you park and ride, you have no choice as your parking ticket is dished out with the tram tickets.)

Retiredandcrazy said...

Please pick up your new award from my post!

Parisgirl said...

Sarah, I've been 'controlled' on the Metro here but never on the buses.
Retiredandcrazy: thank you for my award.