30 passengers sue J’lem Light Rail
Lawsuit claims CityPass fined commuters despite being aware of flaws in the train’s ticketing system.
Jerusalem light rail Photo: Marc Israel Sellem
Thirty irate passengers who were fined on the light rail in Jerusalem decided to
sue CityPass for fining passengers even though the operator knew there were
serious problems with the ticketing system.
Although CityPass announced
last month that it will cancel all fines issued to passengers who were issued
faulty tickets by Egged bus drivers, the passengers decided to join in a small
claims suit to protest the “humiliating way” they were treated and their lost
time, said City Councilor Merav Cohen (Hitorerut B’yerushalayim), who helped
organize the small claims case. Many of the passengers’ claims were filed with
the court last week, and the last six were filed on Monday morning.
said she decided to turn to the courts as a last resort after CityPass failed to
respond to her letters and phone calls or to reexamine its policies for fining
Passengers on the new light rail, which began charging on
December 1, are still trying to get the hang of the system, which is based on
Rav-Kav electronic ticketing cards.
Some of the fines result from
passengers who do not understand where or how to swipe their cards, or assume
that they can just show the driver their monthly passes as they do on buses. In
addition, a technological snafu between the Egged and CityPass ticketing systems
meant that thousands of passengers paid for tickets on buses that were supposed
to work on the trains as well but did not. Although passengers had receipts
showing they had paid, inspectors gave those who were issued faulty tickets
fines of NIS 186.
CityPass declined to say exactly how many passengers
were fined for faulty tickets but the number is estimated to be in the
“It doesn’t make sense that there is such a big mass of people
getting these fines,” said Cohen. “They’re not criminals, you can see that they
already paid. It’s not about money. They’re not thieves, they just don’t
understand where to swipe [their card]. If there are so many fines, doesn’t that
bring up a red light? You think that everyone in the State of Israel is a thief?
Obviously the problem is with you guys.
“I have never sued anyone in my
life, but here they were out of line,” she said. Cohen added that dozens of
people, especially the elderly, called her office each week with horror stories
of being humiliated in front of a train full of people and forcibly removed. She
said people had shared stories of being forced off trains in east Jerusalem
neighborhoods where they felt unsafe, or of a girl with special needs being
removed from the train.
A source at CityPass defended his company’s
practice of fining all passengers who had not paid with Rav-Kav cards, without
regard to extenuating circumstances, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post two
weeks ago. “The inspectors, you can’t give them flexibility,” the source
“There will be one inspector who will hate Arabs or one
inspector who will come down hard on haredim, or one inspector who won’t issue a
fine because he thinks that girl is pretty,” the source said.
inspectors do their job properly in maintaining the law,” CityPass spokesman
Ozel Vatik said, in response to the lawsuit.
Vatik stressed that the
public had already traveled for free for two months on the light rail before the
ticket machines were working.
“Today, it is clear that those who are
traveling on the light rail must validate their tickets,” he said.