Frequently Asked Questions about ticket inspections
Public transport is not free. It is a service you have to pay for, just like other goods and services in society. In this case, the price is also subsidised – about half the cost is paid by taxpayers. This is why we have ticket inspections. We think that everyone who uses public transport should pay for their journey, and our customers agree with us. By taking responsibility for the tax funds that have been allocated to public transport, we can help to make life better in the region by making travel to and from work and leisure activities easier.
We know that most of our customers want ticket inspections. By increasing the proportion of fare-paying passengers, we are taking responsibility for our paying customers and we are able to provide them with the very best travel opportunities and travel experiences.
A customer survey conducted during the spring of 2014 shows that an overwhelming majority is in favour of Västtrafik carrying out spot checks (over 74% are in favour and only 5% are against).
Most inspections are spot checks. Our inspectors carry out all inspections while wearing visible uniforms and not civilian clothes. The ticket inspectors always board last, so that everyone has chance to hold their card up to the card reader or buy their ticket. Remember that you must always hold your card up to the card reader or buy your SMS ticket as soon as you board. However, if you board with a pushchair or a lot of luggage, for example, the inspectors will of course take into account the fact that you might need a bit longer to stamp your card. When the inspectors board a vehicle, they look around to get a picture of the passengers on board, which helps them to make any assessments required. Since our terms and conditions of travel state that you must hold your card up to the card reader as soon as you board, they cannot give consideration to a situation where a person only chooses to hold up their card once they see that a ticket inspector has boarded.
At the same time, there are special circumstances that the ticket inspection must take into account in accordance with the Swedish Penalty Fares Act. These may be if you are a tourist from a long way away or if you have an illness of some kind, for example. We then examine how the circumstances have affected your ability to do the right thing.
It is not always easy for an inspector to make a decision on the spot as to what constitutes special circumstances. So there is always the option to appeal against a penalty fare and if it is shown that the inspector has made an incorrect assessment, this will subsequently be corrected and the penalty fare will be cancelled.
Those who operate public transport are entitled to charge a penalty fare to passengers who are unable to produce a valid ticket on inspection. A passenger who refuses to use a ticket or pay the penalty fare can also be asked to leave the vehicle. The rules on penalty fares are stipulated in the law on penalty fares for public transport.
Anyone travelling without having paid for their journey may be guilty of fraud. The penalties for this crime include imprisonment. An inspector who catches a passenger red-handed using public transport without paying has the right to detain the passenger by making a citizen’s arrest (Chapter 24, Section 7, Subsection 2 of the Swedish Code of Procedure and Chapter 9, Section 2, Subsection 2 of the Swedish Criminal Code). Those carrying out a citizen’s arrest in accordance with the provisions above also have the right, to the extent that other means are inadequate and that it is justifiable under the circumstances, to use a certain level of force in order to make such an arrest. This may be the case if the passenger attempts to escape or if the person making the arrest otherwise meets with resistance (Section 29, Subsection 1, Sentence 3 of the Swedish Police Act, cf. Section 10, Subsection 1 of the same Act). An inspector therefore has the right, under certain circumstances, to detain a passenger who may be suspected of fraudulent behaviour.
Detaining a person is always a last resort and, like most of us in society, we want to avoid the need for a situation where someone has to be detained. We endeavour to make as few interventions as possible and we work to resolve situations such as these through dialogue and communication. The police are always informed whenever inspectors make a citizen’s arrest.
Ticket inspector training lasts six months and combines both theory and practice. Subjects covered include approach and values, communication and dialogue, service and customer interaction, conflict and stress management, the law, reactions that can arise during inspection situations and Västtrafik’s payment system and range.
You do not need to worry about not being able to hold your card up against the card reader before an inspection begins. As you can see from our terms and conditions of travel, you must hold your card up against the card reader as soon as you board and as a passenger, you will always be given a reasonable amount of time to do so. This means, for example, that the inspectors will allow you to stow your luggage, position and secure your pushchair or buy your ticket from the machine first. If you do not have a good reason not to, however, you must do this as soon as you board the vehicle. Anyone who waits until an inspection begins before holding up their card or sending their SMS will have to pay a penalty fare. If, for example, you are talking on your phone when you board, we expect you to end your call and buy a ticket. You can then call back and continue your conversation. You can read the rules about this in our terms and conditions of travel.
We understand that nervousness is a feeling you may experience in an inspection scenario. So we have put together a few tips and pieces of advice for you here.
Hold up your period card against the card reader on every journey, even if you have already activated it. As the seasons change, we all change our clothes and you can easily find that you have left your card in your other jacket on the very day an inspector asks to see your card. At the same time, this will act as a reminder of when your period card expires. Ticket inspectors cannot make allowances for you forgetting your card or not noticing that it has expired.
If you travel using an SMS ticket, remember to order it straight away. Your SMS ticket will usually arrive within a couple of seconds, but don’t worry if it takes a bit longer. The ticket inspectors can easily check that you have sent off an SMS.
If you are unsure about which button to press when travelling with a pay-as-you-go card or where your journey crosses several zones, always ask the driver. Or ask the ticket inspectors if they are stood at your stop. They will be happy to help.