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Transportation Government The Almighty Buck

Swedish Fare Dodgers Organize Against Transportation Authorities 389

An anonymous reader writes "Every transit network has its fare beaters, the riders who view payment as either optional or prohibitively expensive. Many cities, most notably New York, view turnstile-jumpers as a top policing priority, reasoning that scofflaws might graduate to more serious crimes if left alone. But in Stockholm, the offenders seem to have defeated the system. From the article: 'For over a decade, Mr. Tengblad has belonged to a group known as Planka.nu (rough translation: “free-ride.now”), an organization with only two prerequisites for admission: Members must pay a monthly fee of about $15 and, as part of a continuous demonstration against the fare, promise to evade payment every time they ride. If travelers keep their side of the agreement, the group will cover any of the roughly $180 fines that might result. (An unlimited ride pass for 30 days costs about $120.)'"
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Swedish Fare Dodgers Organize Against Transportation Authorities

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  • Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18, 2014 @08:35AM (#47031077)

    It's just an insurance scheme. With heavier penalties, it would not work.

    • Re:Insurance (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TubeSteak ( 669689 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @11:05AM (#47032041) Journal

      With heavier penalties, it would not work.

      If heavier penalties fixed anything, nobody in the USA would do drugs or drive drunk.

    • by mlts ( 1038732 )

      I'd disagree. There was an article on /. a while back that it is better to have a small penalty that is heavily enforced than it is to have a large one that is not often used.

      For example, if there was a 100 SEK (~ $15.00) fine every time a turnstile jumper did their act, and it was enforced to the point where if someone did that act, they would get a citation and have to pay the fee, the turnstile jumping would stop. However, if there were a $1000 SEK fine, but only one in 100 people got busted for it, th

    • by aliquis ( 678370 ) <dospam@gmail.com> on Sunday May 18, 2014 @11:46AM (#47032351) Homepage

      Thiefs think others should pay, news at 11.

      I'm from Sweden and well aware of the idiots who think they have the right to pay when others do pay.

      They simply suck.

      I wish they all got caught and I wish everyone reported these idiots when they saw them.

      I still hate that I didn't when I saw someone jump in the back of the bus once here in Örebro.

      (Supposedly the immigrants in an immigrant dence part of the town have been doing this / (possibly threatening / ignoring the bus driver) here too.)

      Ass-holes, nothing to brag about. Shouldn't any idiot understand that everyone should contribute to the society to get the benefits out from it?

      You're free to believe that the fares should be free but not paying isn't the way to make it so. Do it politically and pay through taxes (most of these idiots are likely youths or leftish individuals who don't work anyway) and also realize that demand on transports would increase if everyone could travel for free.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by BasilBrush ( 643681 )

        You're free to believe that the fares should be free but not paying isn't the way to make it so. Do it politically and pay through taxes

        They are doing. Civil disobedience is the primary way of getting political change. Democracy is broken in most countries.

        (most of these idiots are likely youths or leftish individuals who don't work anyway)

        Your bias and distain is noted. A more balanced view is that most fare dodgers are poor people. People for whom the fares are a more significant part of their income (if any).

        It's an unofficial form of redistribution of wealth. And indeed that's the political argument for having it paid for out general of taxation.

    • Heavier penalties, or more frequent controls. Both methods work to reduce the expected value of fare dodging, and the latter has a better educational value: if controls are rare, when one gets caught they think "Wow, how unlucky", not "I shouldn't do that anymore".
  • by mark_reh ( 2015546 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @08:44AM (#47031133) Journal

    would be charged with criminal conspiracy.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Conspiracy like racketeering is one of the totalitarian catch all offenses put in place to counteract the radical spirit of the constitution and is a great way to deprive someone of civil rights when you don't like them. Free countries who have an enlightened populace and a government which represents them and not control will police actual committed crimes and not just talking about crimes.

    • by Dereck1701 ( 1922824 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @09:11AM (#47031267)

      Because the US "justice" system is such a shining example for the world. Threatening college students with decades of prison for "stealing" public research papers. Approving no-knock warrants resulting in hundreds if not thousands of innocent deaths. Militarization of police forces and the use of SWAT teams for even the most benign crimes. Crushing people pirating a few songs/movies with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Yes, the rest of the world would do well to emulate us.

    • by MarkusH ( 198450 )

      If they remove the requirement that you must break the law, then it is probably legal as a type of insurance. For example, there exists in the US insurance for speeding, expired tags, etc. that will pay your fine. You just have to phrase it as "if you forgot and broke the law accidentally, we will cover your ticket".

  • Public transit (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rossdee ( 243626 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @08:45AM (#47031137)

    Or the Transit Authority can lower the monthly cost for a full time rider to $14.99, and get the government to covere the difference from tax revenue. It is a socialist country you know.
    Just increase the tax on petrol (or whatever is Swedish for gasoline)

    • Or... they could just raise the fine to €2000, then they'll have to raise the monthly membership to €167 to compensate, and it'll be cheaper just to get a monthly pass.

      • They can't raise the fine that much since the fine needs to remain reasonable for those that simply forgot their ticket or lost it.

        • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )
          Tier the fine. Get caught once, maybe 100-150 euros. Twice in a month, bump it up to 200. 3 times, 500. 4 times, 1000. Maybe have it over a 2-3 month period, and the fine level resets after the time period. Forget or lose your ticket once, and it's not the end of the world. But this way habitual fare dodgers actually get hit.
          • I suspect that would be impossible from a legal standpoint since that would require a database of offenders and there are extremely strict regulations on such a thing. Essentially only the police are allowed to do it and they're only allowed to do it if its a criminal offence or necessary for an investigation.

            A) The transport authority is not the police
            B) This is not a criminal offence
            C) This is not part of an investigation

            It is unlikely they would be allowed to do such a thing.

            • B) This is not a criminal offence

              Isn't it? In many countries fair dodging is a crime, rated similar to theft of a small amount of money. And I can't see what makes you think it is illegal for a company to keep track of who they found cheating on them.

              • Re:Public transit (Score:5, Informative)

                by Zironic ( 1112127 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @11:07AM (#47032057)

                The fine you get when you're caught dodging the fare is legally not a fine but a punitive ticket price(straffavgift). If you're caught by the police dodging the fare (Sometimes they stand around trying to catch criminals or illegal immigrants) then you get an actual fine (ordningsbot) which is actually not covered by planka.nu and can show up on your permanent record.

                Essentially it's important to understand that Sweden makes an extremely clear distinction between those that have the authority to handle criminal matters and those who do not, the metro does not.

            • I suspect that would be impossible from a legal standpoint since that would require a database of offenders and there are extremely strict regulations on such a thing.

              I don't know about Sweden, but over here in Helsinki, the fine is treated as a debt. If you don't pay it, it goes on your public credit report. So, it is obvious that the public transportation authority (and the credit reporting agency) have a record of repeat offenders and could easily demand high fines for consecutive violations.

    • by richlv ( 778496 )

      it would be cheaper to do an estonian thing and just make it free: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      • Tallinn only made the public transportation system free for residents. There continue to be ticket inspectors moving around checking if people are local residents. Foreigners visiting Tallinn and using the system without buying a ticket are fined. I see this often because, as a foreigner, I often take one of Tallinn's longest trans-city bus routes and have been challenged by inspectors on several occassions since the new rules came in.

        Were Stockholm to make public transportation free, it would probably only

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 18, 2014 @08:45AM (#47031139)

    This is known as organized crime.

    • You beat me to it.
    • by mpe ( 36238 )
      This is known as organized crime. Depends who's doing. It can also be known as a "business plan" or "good business sense", etc.
  • According to TFA, the organization that pays of the fines is currently profitable because it rakes in twice the money as it pays off in fines. It seems simply raising the fines would quickly make that unprofitable.

    • Re:hike up the fines (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NicBenjamin ( 2124018 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @09:54AM (#47031537)

      Since the fine is apparently equal to 12 months of fees to the organization, that implies people only get caught once every two years. As a turnstile jumper you'd actually be better off not being in the organization and putting that $15 a month into a bank account to pay the ticket.

      If the government put a couple extra cops on the ticket turnstile beat and doubled the amount of tickets you issued they'd only break even, and if they tripled the number of tickets the group'd start losing cash. If the average jumper starts getting caught every 8 months, that's 1.5 times a year, which means they pay fines of $270, and an insurer needs $22.50 a month in revenue to cover costs. The best strategy would probably be to double the fine and double enforcement on the train lines for a few months. Either option makes the group break even, and combined they'd mean the group has to double it's fee.

      Of course back in the real world the Swedish authorities could easily conclude this is just mischievous kids being mischievous, and therefore the group should not be forced out of business.

      • If they tried that the transport authority would go bankrupt within the month. They operate on near zero margin and theres no way they could find the money to double enforcement.

    • by Nemyst ( 1383049 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @09:54AM (#47031539) Homepage
      Nah, that'd also punish people who legitimately forgot their ticket or something along those lines. The much better idea is to increase repeat offender fines. If the first fine's only like $50, but the fifth is more like $500, those fare dodgers would very quickly go broke while normal people wouldn't be affected.
      • by Chryana ( 708485 )

        I like your idea, I agree it is better than mine. I'm not sure I buy the "forgotten ticket" line though. I admit my total ignorance of the public transit system in Sweden, but where I live, we are issued permanent tickets cards . My card is at all times in my wallet, and it can even be registered so that I can get back my monthly pass in case I lose my card.

  • Not heroes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by JavaBear ( 9872 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @09:10AM (#47031259)

    These people are parasites, and leeches, whose evasion is helping to drive UP the cost for everybody else.
    Public transportation is en expensive service, mostly subsidized through taxes, these hypocritical parasites help make it that much more expensive for everybody else.

    I hope the Swedish authorities take an idea that was floated when the same was about to happen in Denmark.

    The fines the "organization" pay, are to be treated as taxable income.

    • Eh, at 3% of the fares as estimated by the transit authority they're a negliable amount of the commuters and probably cost vastly less then the measures put in place to attempt to 'stop' them.

      Besides as noted in the article evasion itself is not the point, they're a semi-political movement that thinks that public transport should be 100% public funded rather then as is 50% which is why they're against false tickets.

    • These people are parasites, and leeches, whose evasion is helping to drive UP the cost for everybody else.
      Public transportation is en expensive service, mostly subsidized through taxes, these hypocritical parasites help make it that much more expensive for everybody else.

      I hope the Swedish authorities take an idea that was floated when the same was about to happen in Denmark.

      The fines the "organization" pay, are to be treated as taxable income.

      And give them free advertisement in the form of news coverage and other attention?

      Planka.nu state that they have 600 members in the Stockholm metro area. That's about 0.03% of the population and perhaps 0.1% of daily transit travelers. They also state that all of their surplus revenue goes towards flyers and stickers and other means of spreading the word. Advertisement is hard, especially when you're barred from using billboards and other conventional outlets.

      • I imagine that most people in the Stockholm metro area know about Planka and many of them support them philosophically. The reason their members are so few is because it's a hassle to always have to bypass the entrence and it can be kinda embarrasing to get caught.

    • Keep in mind three things:

      1) According to the article this is 3% of fares.

      2) According to the article most of the group members are High School Age.

      3) This is Sweden. Joining a Union devoted to publicly pressuring the government to reduce fares is precisely the kind of thing every patriotic Swede wants his 16-year-old doing, because a lot of things a rebellious 16-year-old considers doing are much worse for society then free subway rides.

    • There's a problem with this claim. Similarly to file-sharers, they don't *actually* cost the transport companies any money.

      1. It assumes they would pay if not the scheme. It doesn't assume they would take alternate transport medium.

      2. It assumes all the income is from the tickets. It disregards both tax-funded subsidies (from 'freeloaders' tax money) and the punitive charges income (no matter if paid by given freeloader alone or from 'insurance')

      3. It assumes cost scales linearly with the number of passenge

    • These people are parasites, and leeches, whose evasion is helping to drive UP the cost for everybody else.

      Although you call them names you haven't offered any sort of moral argument as to why what they are doing is wrong. How exactly do they raise costs?

    • Public transportation is en expensive service, mostly subsidized through taxes, these hypocritical parasites help make it that much more expensive for everybody else.

      Until you start paying a toll box at the end of your driveway, stop bitching about people fare-evading or the cost of public transit projects.

      If it's "mostly subsidized through taxes", then why are there (rather significant) fares, and why is fare evasion such a massive issue? It's either "public" or it isn't, and it's either "mostly subsidize

  • At $120/month for a pass, you're probably paying less to use transit than you would pay for gasoline. On top of that, you don't have the expense of purchasing and maintaining a car, insurance, or parking.

    On top of that, people who cannot drive or cannot afford to drive usually have access to cheaper bus passes. Those who live in walkable or bikeable communities have the choice of paying a single fare when they need the service, rather than having to deal with the full expense of car ownership for the few

    • According to the article most of the group's members are under the age of 18. In the unlikely event mom bought them a car, instead of simply insisting they bike everywhere, they would not be paying any of the bills.

      And let's be honest here, if you're under-18 in Sweden this is an incredibly patriotic form of teenage rebellion. You've joined a collective, which responsibly manages it's finances (it turns a fucking profit!), and has the political goal of increasing equality by reducing subway fares poor peopl

      • The PM couldn't because that would be highly illegal. The way the Swedish goverment is set up the ministers are not allowed to make executive decisions, they are only allowed to make policy decisions that are then executed by the public servants.

        You're also probably more correct then you are aware. Planka.nu as an organisation actually recieves state support as the Swedish state supports political organisations in general.

  • Easy to fix (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WhiteZook ( 3647835 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @09:29AM (#47031379)
    1. 1. The authorities should sign up their own staff, and issue them fake fines (1-2 per month).
    2. 2. Send the fake fines to Planka.nu
    3. 3. Collect underpants
    4. 4. Get reimbursed for hundreds of dollars, while only paying $15 a month: profit!
    • That's more clever then my proposal of 200 cops writing tickets, but it's got the disadvantage that the group would probably figure out what was going on quite quickly, and throw the staff out. If they're really keeping halof the revenue they earn as profit then they've got a cushion, so clever moves they can counter by being more clever aren't a long-term solution.

      Moreover it ignores the fact that most members of this groups aren't 40-something stockbrokers, they're High School kids.

      Can you think of any fo

    • Re:Easy to fix (Score:4, Interesting)

      by NilleKopparmynt ( 928574 ) on Sunday May 18, 2014 @12:46PM (#47032707)

      That is a very good idea! But as a person who travels using the Stockholm public transport every day I must add that the problem is far bigger than just "planka.nu". It is effectively free to use the public transport in Stockholm. I see at least five different ways people avoid paying. 1. Planka.nu who simply says that they are not going to pay and know that the lonely conductor (on the trams) is not going to do anything. 2. Middle eastern immigrants in groups that just says fuck off! 3. Swedes that comes with strange excuses like "oh, i forgot but I am just going one station". 4. Nervous Swedes that jumps in and out of the tram depending on where the conductor is. 5. Immigrants who just shake their head when the ticket checker arrives.

      I have traveled with the tram to and from work in Stockholm for almost three years now and I have so far yet to see the first fine handed out. The problem with this is that people like me who pay properly are such fucking losers. I assume that the economic reality will catch up with this sooner or later.

      Sweden is full of idiots like this. The worst organization is not "planka.nu" but "allt åt alla" (everything to everyone). They think that all the tax money collected should be handed out to anyone who needs money. It is obvious that they aim to receive money and have no ambition to contribute. Basically a modern version of a cargo cult

      The great Swedish welfare state is dead. We do not have a working military anymore which makes even the Estonian president to complain. The healthcare is the same. It exists but not for everyone no matter how much tax you pay. Sweden has the fewest hospital beds per 1000 people in Europe. A 27 year old Swede can look forward to 40% of the salary as a pension. A Greek 120%. The School is falling in the PISA statistics. All can be found in different OECD reports.

      I am soon emigrating. I am not paying anymore.

      • by dkf ( 304284 )

        A 27 year old Swede can look forward to 40% of the salary as a pension. A Greek 120%.

        You are aware that that is one of the main reasons that Greece was so thoroughly fucked by the financial crisis? One of the main reasons why such a large proportion of Greeks had no jobs at all for years? 40% feels low, sure, but 120% is absurdly high. (The only way 120% could work is by artificially depressing salaries across the whole population and getting the taxes in from entirely different mechanisms. You'd get 120%, but it would be 120% of much less...)

  • New York City's crackdown on turnstile jumping was part of the Giuliani Administrations implementation of broken window policing. But reducing low level disorder and misdemeanor crime, broken windows policing makes the law abiding residents of neighborhoods feel safer.

    "A government’s inability to control even a minor crime [city-journal.org] like graffiti signaled to citizens that it certainly couldn’t handle more serious ones."

    Stopping and arresting turnstile jumpers in particular frequently turned up wanted felons, parole violators, and gangbangers with illegal guns. Arresting them not only took criminal predators, off the streets, it encouraged other criminals to leave their guns at home for fear of having them confiscated. This further reduced their abilities to commit criminal acts in places like subways, and reduced criminal gun incidents when members of rival gangs would bump into each other.

  • If I ran a transport network, I wouldn't bother with barriers - just occasional ticket checks / smart card validation and upon failure it's a £1,000,000 fine.

I judge a religion as being good or bad based on whether its adherents become better people as a result of practicing it. - Joe Mullally, computer salesman