Ticket sharing as a form of urban solidarity

Article published on Feb. 21, 2009
community published
Article published on Feb. 21, 2009
If you are getting off the bus, you can't use your ticket anymore, so why not give it to someone else, who can then avoid paying and save some nerve cells? :)Sounds academic, doesn't it? The title, I mean. In fact, it's not, this post was inspired by simply using public transport in Vilnius and reading today that the municipality is going to raise the prices of tickets again.
Unlike in Gothenburg, for example, tickets in Vilnius are valid for one ride, not one hour. So, no matter how many stops you go, the price is always the same. A classical situation of bad luck is being caught by transport control when going only one stop. People, especially kids, have always tried to find ways to avoid paying. One of them was collecting tickets and matching the pattern of the holes appearing on the ticket upon validation. However, modern punchers (which were introduced earlier than modern buses) imprint the date and time of validation. Some buses have digital punchers, some still have the old ones.Ticket sharing appeared a few years ago. It's not very widespread, but you can see people doing it from time to time. If you are getting off the bus, you can't use your ticket anymore, so why not give it to someone else, who can then avoid paying and save some nerve cells? :) Usually people would simply give their tickets to a random person they meet at the door when they are getting off the bus. However the risk is, this person might have a monthly pass (like I do), so they wouldn't need the ticket, and there's no way of making sure that they would give it to those who need it. I remember how some people would even get scared when they are offered a ticket for the first time. What does this person want from me? Giving a ticket is always a quick gesture of an arm, which might be scary for those who are used to avoiding any communication on public transport.I remember once getting a ticket this way in Kaunas. I had a monthly pass, so I didn't know what to do with it. It would be a shame to waste it, I thought, if someone was kind enough to decide to share his ticket. But this person simply put the ticket in my hand and went away, and, of course, I couldn't have asked him to give it to somebody else. Luckily, there was one passenger near me who was, as I heard, counting coins before going to buy her ticket on the bus. So I simply gave her the ticket and said that it was given to me by someone else, but I have a monthly pass, so I don't need it. The lady was confused. "So should I pay you?" she asked. "No, I got it for free, but I don't need it, so I'm giving it to you for free," - I said. I was glad to be able to use the ticket just as the person who gave it to me had wanted.Recently I've been seeing tickets simply left on the seats. This way it is more likely that it will be picked up by someone who needs it. However, if the puncher is one of the old ones, the question for many people probably is: would you trust this mysterious someone who wanted to share his/her ticket? Was it really from this bus? Since when is it lying here? Of course, puncher patterns can be always matched using a small piece of paper.You may argue that ticket sharing is a form of stealing. The money collected through pricing the tickets are used to pay drivers' salaries and support the public transportation system. I agree with it, and I don't like free-riding. I always feel like I'm stealing. I want public transport to be available and affordable. However, the company responsible for public transport has raised the prices of tickets when the prices of oil were rocketing, and raised them again when they fell. Logic? I don't see any. Being able to communicate with fellow passengers and feeling that someone cares about other people who are in a similar situation, I think, is a very nice form of solidarity.