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.
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.
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).