Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Coffee, cookies but no cashiers

with 3 comments

Globe and Mail

A nice little article to cheer you up on a Monday morning. A cafe in Kitchener. Ontario that relies on the honour system – and why it works.

There are a couple of interesting observations

Experiments that lack the personal touch of a café or restaurant have met with failure: Various efforts over the years to lend out free bicycles in Portland, Ore., Salt Lake City, Charleston, S.C., and other cities resulted in the bikes being stolen or trashed within weeks.

So the fare box on the bus works – there is an operator looking after it. But the SkyTrain – well the tickets only get checked so often. Velib works becuase there is a mandatory deposit – but it works by “reserving” a sum on your credit card. By the way, their bikes do get the sort of rough treatment you must expect in this situation. The baskets seem to get really rough treatment. The chain seems to be vulnerable. And more than one saddle height adjustment lever had been snapped off.

The café’s survival reinforces her belief that people are basically honest. “It makes you feel more that we’re all in this together,” Ms. Freed says.

This actually gives some insight into the minds of those who do not feel this way. A certain small percentage of the population has no conscience. I am not going to get into the discussion of why this is so – nature or nurture and all that. We just have to accept that some people think the rest of the world’s population are suckers who deserve to get screwed. How much effort should we put in to keeping the minority in line? And how much inconvenience and cost should the rest of us bear? There will always be some cheats. And they will cost us something – but it it really worth a heck of a lot more in security to make life more difficult for them?

Written by Stephen Rees

July 28, 2008 at 8:43 am

Posted in Economics

3 Responses

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  1. Mr. Rees —-I do not believe what the results of the translink fare evasion survey revealed mattered,if the results came to the conclusion that the fare evasion was 30% Kevin Falcon would have stated,see I told you so,the fact that the survey revealed very low evasion numbers Falcon just blew it off stating the survey was flawed.

    So much for translink being an independent outfit free from goverment interference,the fact that Falcon has stated and made reference to the fact that he and Gordon Campbell want turnstiles,then turnstiles and gates we will get.

    The motive for these gates is not security its just another Dobell/liberal freindly payoff for cubit industries,this Likberal goverment has become a joke,a sad joke upon BCers,these gates won`t increase revenues for translink,in fact I suspect if people(chronic cheaters) can`t get through these turnstiles or gates that we are going to have more crime and potential threats around skytrain stations.

    People on welfare and disability have such little finacial means,why don`t the liberals provide a transit pass for eligible welfare recipients for goodness sakes they don`t even get enough money to pay their rent! The idea that a person on welfare is expected to pay 20% of their income on a monthly fare pass is a joke,I don`t know why I waste my breath with practical solutions,its so easy to just have attendents work at skytrain stations but the whole excercise is just about wasting more money or should I say transfering money to Campbells freinds,I hope when we get this security system installed the hackers have a feild day with it!!!!!

    Grant g

    July 28, 2008 at 3:53 pm

  2. Putting all the conspiracy theory stuff aside, it could simply be that Falcon believes that fare evasion is high simply because that is the way he views the world. The most carefully constructed study won’t sway his mind as it seems to be very made up.

    The crux of the problem, as mentioned before, is that the penalties have no teeth. Yes, they jacked the penalty to $150, but if you throw away the ticket and never pay the fine, there are simply no consequences. Ironically, this situation will still exist even if turnstiles are installed and the Province continues to refuse to make legislative changes to increase the collectibility of these tickets. Forget about fare evasion, you could brazenly run onto the tracks and stop all SkyTrain service and disrupt thousands of commuters for hours upon end and still get nothing more than a couple hundred dollar fine….and you could still crumple it into the trash and face no real consequence for it. Turnstiles won’t fix that.

    It is well proven around the world that the honour system works very well to collect fares so long as there are penalties with teeth. Professional criminals intent on feeding off of transit patrons will view the cost of a fare to get through the turnstile as the cost of doing business. If we are worried about the more common type of problem passenger we see on SkyTrain….the drug abuser or mentally ill….that is a reflection our how our society refuses to deal with these problems in any sort of meaningful or effective way. Turnstiles won’t save you from the mentally ill crack head looking to rob you for their next fix when you are walking home from the SkyTrain station. Even on the train unless we are looking at full height barriers, many of these people will simply jump the turnstile to get on the system. Sure, you could man the barriers. They will be employees who won’t get paid that much and who will be ordered to let someone in at the first threat of physical confrontation. Sure, they can call up Transit Police to find them on the train. Too bad all the money for turnstiles won’t leave any funds left for extra Transit Police to go and actually deal with these people.


    July 28, 2008 at 8:15 pm

  3. Go Trains in the GTA area of Ontario operate on a honour system. The following is from Go’s web page.

    You do not need to deposit or show a ticket or pass every time you ride; however, you must keep your ticket handy to show during random spot checks.

    It is very important that your ticket (your proof of payment) indicates the correct fare zones. Your fare zones are printed on your ticket based on the origin and destination you told the ticket seller.

    Andy Grant

    July 30, 2008 at 2:25 am

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