As someone oppressed by the ever-expanding ticket prices of New York’s corruptly-run MTA subway system, I find this example of criminal ingenuity inspiring: turnstile hoppers in Paris have formed an insurance fund so that whenever one of them is caught by the police, their fine/expenses are fully covered.
“It’s a way to resist together,” declared Gildas, 30, a leader of the mutuelle movement. “We can make solidarity.”
“There are things in France which are supposed to be free — schools, health. So why not transportation?” he said. “It’s not a question of money…. It’s a political question.”
The fare dodgers who jump the turnstiles or sneak in through exit barriers on the Paris Metro are practically as much a fixture of the city as the subway itself.
Those who get caught without a proper ticket, though, face fines of up to $60. So what’s a poor freeloader to do?
For about $8.50 a month, those who join one of these raffish-sounding mutuelles des fraudeurs can rest easy knowing that, if they get busted for refusing to be so bourgeois as to pay to use public transit, the fund will cough up the money for the fine.
Gildas rides the subway at least three times a day, and avoids payment as “a political act.” Besides, he said, “it’s quite easy.”
Back in 2001 or so, he and a group of fellow travelers, in both the literal and metaphorical senses, formed the Network for the Abolition of Paid Transport, “the beginning of our struggle,” Gildas calls it. The group’s initials in French mimic those of the agency that runs the Metro and buses, and to the agency’s logo, which looks like the outline of a face, abolitionists added a raised fist.