Petty Criminals Unite! Subway Fare-Jumpers In Paris Form Insurance Fund

03172010jumperAs 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.

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  • jhalpin666

    I got pinched hopping the turnstiles in Paris long ago — I was alone, could not speak French and was actually trying to hop the turnstile to BUY a new ticket to get where I was going. They grabbed what little American money I had on me and went out to try and change it, luckily it was Sunday and they could not find a beaureau du change open, I believe I still owe them…

  • Cerebralcaustic

    >As someone oppressed [!] by the ever-expanding ticket prices of New York’s corruptly-run MTA subway system…

    You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    Main Entry: op·pres·sion
    Pronunciation: ə-ˈpre-shən
    Function: noun
    Date: 14th century

    1 a : unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power b : something that oppresses especially in being an unjust or excessive exercise of power
    2 : a sense of being weighed down in body or mind : depression

    When people describe minor annoyances as “oppression,” they're not only misusing the word but also cheapening the plight of the truly oppressed.

    • radiac

      I think the use of “oppressed” is fairly accurate. There aren't many realistic transit alternatives for most New Yorkers. The fare has increased substantially in the last few years and it's perpetually on the brink of raising again. The MTA has proven both dishonest and incompetent in their bookkeeping, and the passengers keep paying it. I like the idea of organized resistance, even to make a point. Unfortunately there are undercover cops EVERYWHERE in the system.

    • oppression.

      I'm a student, I live in Queens. My parents are broke and I'm unemployed. Life is tough, trust me. I haven't been able to get the monthly metrocard for a while now…. actually, two days ago, I had exactly 5 dollars to go to the city, and come back. The last 50 cents, I gave to a man on the F train, 21st street stop, (Queensbridge), whose daughter had been killed a few days ago (this was all over the news so I knew it was true).

      Yes, oppression. I agree with that word.

  • Emma

    For about 20 bucks a week you can ride the Metro and all the buses in Paris unendingly.

    Compare that to the San Francisco BART where one ride from Berkeley to the Mission and back will set you back 8 dollars. If you have to take the bus to and from the BART on both sides that's another 10-12 bucks. That's 20 total. Parisians are so lucky they don't live here.

  • Barisaxy103

    I love how the picture shows someone jumping OUT of the subway station. Avoiding the “exit fare”?

  • Barisaxy103

    I love how the picture shows someone jumping OUT of the subway station. Avoiding the “exit fare”?

  • BuzzCoastin

    You gotta love the French for their ingenious ways with which they circumvent the system.

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    You gotta love the French for their ingenious ways with which they circumvent the system.

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