Around 71,000 people have been caught travelling on Kraków’s trams and buses without tickets so far this year – up 5,000 on the same period in 2011.
The fine for failing to present a travel pass or validated ticket is currently 240zł, but even this has not deterred passengers looking for a free ride. And even when caught, fare dodgers sometimes take months to pay the fine, as the city must send a number of warning letters before a case can come to court. This combination means that some 5 million zł worth of fines is yet to be collected.
However, MPK, the public transport body in Kraków, has said that many more could be riding for free, and that it was impossible to estimate the exact level of the problem. Their records only show the number of people caught.
And it’s not as easy as it might seem to buy a ticket, even if you want to. If there is no kiosk or machine near your stop, you can board a bus or tram… but there may be no ticket machine there either. Passengers can buy a fixed price ticket from the driver, but even this isn’t so straightforward, as only one kind of ticket is available, and drivers often can’t give change or take ‘tips’.