When I took the Boston Commuter Rail, I paid over $150/month for my monthly pass – and that was for a Zone 2, when there’s something like 5 zones, so I was getting off easy. There’s no automatic system on our trains – the conductor comes by, you show him your ticket which has a big 2 on it and if I remember correctly was color coded for month, and that’s that.
I never thought about it, but how hard would that have been to fake? Half the time people either flash the ticket quickly, or else stick it in the little holder on the seat. It’s not like the conductor actually touches and examines most of them, he just doesn’t have the time.
Apparently this is indeed a problem, as the linked article discusses. Looks like they’ve adopted little UV flashlights to check for the authenticity markers to weed out the fake tickets.
But that got me wondering, what happens if you’re busted? Do you get kicked off the train, or do you just have to flash a real ticket (or pay the fare some other way)? Is it a crime? What sort? You could ride 100 times on your fake ticket but it’s not like they could prove you defrauded them out of 100 rides. You only technically got caught faking it once. I wonder if you could make the case that you didn’t know it was fake, like you could do with cash?
A friend of mine, who was up in the $200+/month zones, used a different and more ethical trick over the hot summer months. He’d stop buying the monthly pass and instead get a “12 ride” ticket. The trick was that on hot and nasty days with broken air conditioning and standing room only, more than half the time the conductors would never check all the tickets, and thus every time his ticket did not get punched, he got a free ride. That 12 ride ticket would sometimes last him all season.