Jerusalem light rail 521.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Jerusalem resident Natan Schmulewitz had a nasty surprise when he boarded a
light-rail train earlier this week. Shortly before, he used one of the 10
“rides” on his Rav-Kav card to buy a ticket from a bus driver, with the
intention of continuing his journey by light rail. As is well publicized
throughout the city and in printed material, a “ride” is valid for 90 minutes,
using any combination of buses and trains.
After 15 minutes Schmulewitz
got off the bus and changed to the light rail. He attempted to swipe his card on
the computerized machine inside the train, but it flashed “not valid.” He
thought there was something wrong with his card, and asked for help from one of
several CityPass employees on the train. The CityPass man told him to get off
the train and buy a ticket, asking him, “Do you want a NIS 180 fine?”
Schmulewitz asked why he should be fined when he was clearly within 90 minutes,
and showed the CityPass employee his ticket with the date and time stamp. The
CityPass man said to Schmulewitz that he didn’t need to explain the reason, and
slapped him with a NIS 186.60 fine.
On the back of the fine notice was a
phone number for clarifications, so Schmulewitz called the number and was told
that since his first vehicle in the 90 minutes was a bus rather than a train, he
should have asked for a “code 62” ticket.
This “code 62,” whatever that
may be, came as news to everyone, including this reporter, as nowhere is there
any publicity about it and it seems totally illogical since the 90-minute ticket
is trumpeted everywhere as being valid for all buses and trains.
response to my query, the Transportation Ministry spokesman said that the buses
and light rail are indeed all included within 90 minutes, and that if a valid
card is not honored by any public transportation vehicle in the city the holder
should call one of these numbers: 666-3105, 666-3113 or
Schmulewitz called and told his story. The woman on the other
end of the phone was very pleasant and explained that because his ticket had
been purchased before December 1, when fares were introduced on the light rail,
it was an “old-style” ticket. She asked for the story in writing, and
Schmulewitz was happy to fax it to her.
Obviously Schmulewitz isn’t the
only person in this position, at the mercy of overzealous and probably temporary
CityPass employees, taken on in this initial period of fare charging on the
light rail. Inspectors do not distinguish between honest people who
bought a ticket before December 1 and fare-dodgers who are hoping to get away
without paying at all.
Shmuel Elgrabli, the spokesman for the Jerusalem
Transportation Master Plan, responded that there has been plenty of publicity
advising people who bought tickets before December 1 to return them to the
central bus station, where they will receive replacement tickets.