This and That

Random bits of my life

CityPass Rip-Off

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 26, 2012

Today was my second trip (ever) on the Jerusalem Light Rail. I got fined 180 NIS for not knowing that the paper tickets are good only the day you purchase them. There’s nothing written on the ticket itself. Who ever heard of a ticket expiring? Money doesn’t expire, bus tickets don’t expire, so why do Jerusalem Light Rail tickets expire?

The inspector on the right took my ticket. He didn’t tell me there was anything wrong. He just looked at my ticket and said, “Can I see your ID card to check something?” I gave him my ID because I’m a law-abiding citizen and it never occurred to me that something was wrong with the ticket. He announced in a loud, obnoxious voice, “You have broken the law! You must be fined!,” making no attempt to hide his satisfaction. Understand this — although I made a mistake, I can’t undo it by offering to pay (I had a valid Rav Kav in my bag) because I have already broken the law. There is no recourse. I will receive a 180 NIS fine in the mail for making a mistake about a 6.60 NIS ticket.

Nasty CityPass Inspectors

Here’s the front of the ticket, showing the date I purchased it. There is no indication that the card is good only on that day. The writing at the top says to insert it in the direction of the arrows. The writing above the date says “Single ride.”


Here’s the back of the card. I did notice that the machine hadn’t stamped the card but the implication didn’t register because I was tired after a long hike in the woods. Also, I assumed that because I had paid for a ticket, the ticket was still good. If the machine stamped the card with “Invalid,” I would have used my Rav Kav card. Now I know (too late) that the machine where you run your card through has a display that tells you if it’s valid. But I got on at Herzl, we were pressed into the crowded car like sardines, and I was standing too close to the machine to see that it had a display, let alone read it.

Citypass ticket back

My husband saw a poster at one of the stations, so he went to check it out. He said that he read through two columns of text before he found the line about the paper tickets only being good the day they’re purchased. Can you imagine busy commuters stopping to read all that print when running for a train?

So the moral of the story is this: Don’t ever, ever make a mistake on the Jerusalem Light Rail. It’ll cost you and it’s unpleasant and humiliating to be labeled a law-breaker in front of dozens of people.

Remember to tell your tourist friends that they can’t save time or money by buying a bunch of the paper tickets and using them throughout their stay. They’re stuck with having to buy single tickets every single day. And good luck with that! When I got out at King George and Jaffa Street, possibly the busiest intersection on the route, two out of the four machines (both sides of the track) were out of order.

The money does not go to the municipality of Jerusalem. It goes to CityPass, the company that destroyed our downtown businesses and streets for years, and who now staffs its trains with inspectors who must either get a quota or a commission. CityPass was forced to cancel files caused by riders receiving wrong or outdated codes on their Rav Kav (the CityPass smart card — I still have a bunch of rides with the old code that were mistakenly sold to me on Dec. 2 by a bus driver and now they’re worthless).


12 Responses to “CityPass Rip-Off”

  1. jtorgler said

    Good Heavens!!! What a terrible thing to have happened. If this gets out on FaceBook, Jerusalem will have a hard time convincing tourists to go and visit. I think that the people you had to deal with on the Jerusalem light rail need to be fired. This is a very big mistake on their part, since they deal with tourists from all around the world, and what if this happens to a “big money spending tourist”??? I am very sorry for your experience.

    • Avital Pinnick said

      It’s on Facebook. While I hate airing our dirty laundry in public and I love Jerusalem (truly!), this kind of abuse has to be stopped. The tourist season hasn’t started yet. We’ll see how CityPass fares, although judging by the comments on the Internet, they don’t care and they’re too rich to care.

  2. Mara Moshe said

    sorry to hear about your aggravation on the Light Rail. I’ve heard too many of these stories. I missed three trains one day while waiting on a long line to buy a ticket. And another time the machine by my stop was out of order. I just decided to ride the train without a ticket for the few stops I needed and take my chances being caught. What kind of system makes it so difficult to buy a ticket? I feel terrible for the tourists that have no clue how manage those ticket machines. Although you probably just want to put it behind you, I recommend you write a letter explaining what happened and perhaps they will waive the fine. At least they will hear from you and hopefully many other disgruntled city pass travelers.

    • Avital Pinnick said

      Thanks, Mara. This whole thing (inspectors, delays, everything) is some kind of scam. I’ve also heard these stories. It’s simple abuse. I do intend to explain and to fight as much as I am able. My husband is going back to photograph the Hebrew sign to show that it is only in Hebrew (and 2 columns?!). Who has time to read all that when they’re in a rush? What they could have done (if their intentions were honourable, which I definitely doubt) is print the words “Ticket good for one day only” on the card. CityPass is a scam. That’s all I can say.

      They’ve boxed us in so that Egged has cancelled every bus that Egged (Israel’s national bus company) has had to cancel every line that runs alongside the Light Rail. This was a condition. NO OTHER TRANSPORT SYSTEM IN THE WORLD DOES THIS! In a city like Jerusalem with so many attacks, bombings, traffic jams, we are sitting ducks. If a train is broken or goes out of service, it’s not like a bus. A tram can’t overtake another tram. What are the passengers supposed to do if a tram is stopped or bombed? Get out and walk to the next stop? At least with buses they can bring in another bus. With a tram you have no choice. One set of tracks.

      CityPass has a long history of complaints. You only have to google it. It’s a blight upon the city and the country. We are being taken for a ride. Literally.

  3. i rode for the first time yesterday. i was ready for the horrors, after reading all about them in the jpost, times of israel and haaretz. i had just gotten off a bus, and went on the train. had no clue what to do. the slot on the top didn’t seem right. so i waited to see what others did. someone swiped their rav kav in front of the machine, so i did the same. heard a beep. have no idea if it was right or wrong. no receipt, no proof that i did it, or that i didn’t do it right. at the next stop, an inspector got on. i got off. just wasn’t going to deal with this. what a mess.

    • Avital Pinnick said

      If you have good eyesight and are really fast, you can see the display between the slot (on the top for paper tickets) and the touch surface for Rav Kav. But you have to be fast and standing at the right angle, because the display is yellow with light grey letters. The machine itself is yellow and grey. I didn’t notice that there was a display on the machine until the third time I rode the Light Rail. Yes, you’re right that there’s no receipt or proof that your card was accepted. If you’re distracted or don’t look fast enough, you will miss the only confirmation that the card was read. The machine emits one kind of beep for a valid ticket and another kind of beep for an invalid ticket, I’m told. I can’t confirm that because it was so noisy when I got on yesterday that I never heard the beep on the first ride. I’m glad you didn’t have to deal with the inspector! They get a real kick out of giving fines (I suppose you would have to have “unique” personality traits to want a job like that; the CityPass inspectors are not at all like the Egged bus inspectors).

  4. Mara, Avital already wrote a letter – it’s this blog post!

  5. Issy Ruvein said

    Please see my comment to your previous article on this matter ==> Who is CityPass? And Why Are We Stuck with Them for 30 Years?, March 28, 2012.

    As for my reaction to this article … I am wondering if these experiences are in Germany in the 1930’s or Israel in 2012?

    B’Shalom – Issy

  6. I purchased 10 new trips on my rav kav, but had 7 to start with. Citypass ate the original 7 trips as my card had only 10 trips after the purchase. oh vey!

    • Avital Pinnick said

      This might have happened to me, too. I bought “extra” (i.e., more than 10) rides because it was convenient and didn’t see them when I validated the card on the train. I assumed it was a card-reader problem but now I’m starting to worry. It’s really irritating that the buses no longer give you a paper receipt that tells you how many rides you have left!

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