Aug 13, 2023

What Prague Commuters Think of the “Honesty Policy”

by Ellie Millikan

Informal conversations with public transit users in Prague suggest that the honor system (people can walk through ticket scanners without having to show their pass or ticket) of ticketing trams, buses, and the metro overall has broad support, even if there is some annoyance with the spot check enforcement.

Many residents of the Czech Republic rely on getting a pass or ticket for public transportation. Prague, like many European cities has an honesty policy where tickets and passes do not have to be scanned. If a transportation officer comes up and asks to see your ticket or pass and if you do not have it, then you are fined.

Locals say fines range from 300-1000 crowns which is around 14-50 US dollars. The Prague Public Transit Company fines on average 1,500 crowns, for not having a ticket or pass. The locals say the fines are way too expensive. According to Czech News, in Prague around 255,115 fines have been issued since 2022.

Mark Badtras, a teenage resident, lives in Prague 2; he has been asked to show his pass. Badras reports he was on the metro when an officer came up to him and asked for his pass. One time, he did not have it and panicked and forgot to tell the officer he had authorization at home.

“I accidentally said I don’t have any at all and he thought like I don’t have any so he fined me 1000 crowns instead of 300.” By the time Badtras realized he misspoke, it was too late, so he paid the fine. If he told the officer that he left his pass at home, his fine would have been less. Most times, he insists, he has his proof to show to the officer.

Like Badras, another young Prague resident, in his twenties, Kyrstof, who declined to tell his full name, takes the metro and trams. He has experienced a fine also. Sometimes he forgets to bring a pass or ticket.

He explained “I actually had the ticket, but it didn’t come yet because you usually order through sms.” Kyrstof had ordered his ticket through a text link, but never got the confirmation. He ended up getting caught and had to pay the fine. He now tries to bring identification with him unless it is nighttime.

Unlike the younger riders, the older riders, would rather follow the rules.

One older man named Babel, a Prague resident, who declined to give his full name, has never had a fine. Each year, he purchases a year-long pass. “I have a card for a year, so it is not a problem.” He thinks the process is simple – if you always have your pass with you, you will not be fined.

Another Prague resident, Teresa Vyckoćilovà, also always has a pass with her, so she does not risk having to pay. Vyckoćilovà does not understand why people will not purchase a ticket or pass. She says, “It is easy to get a pass.” Therefore, she has never gotten fined and thinks it is not worth the risk to get a fine.

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When it comes to tourists, some do not know about how tickets work for transportation. But Germans always know the rules. Tourists can be one of the people that are targeted. Sarah, a tourist from Germany, does not like breaking rules. She bought a ticket for three days and brought it with her.

On her first day to Prague, she got asked to show her ticket. She explained, “We had our backpacks so they knew we were tourists, so they checked us. I looked to the person so maybe that was my fault.” She thinks the key is to not look at the officers. She claims most tourists know about the honesty policy.

Babel feels certain people are targeted. He thinks tourists, young people, and students are targeted. He explained, “definitely young people because they try to save the money and then there are students because they try to save the money.”

Many public commuters like the honesty policy because there are many positives. One reason is. teenagers and people in their twenties, can risk not always having their pass or ticket with them.

Krystof rides the tram at night, and he does not get fined. He said, “Easier to just like cause guys usually (rewrite quote to make it make more sense to the reader, put the words in brackets) take on the tram and they start to check people so you see how he is checking but I don’t have my ticket so you will usually just wait for the next station to get out.” Other people said also most people do not carry their tickets at night or on the weekends.

Most of the local commuters engaged in the report prefer the honesty policy. They believe it saves time and helps make ticketing less stressful. However, they do wish fines were lower. and will decrease as more people carry a pass.

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