The 100 Swiss Franc Bus Ride

This morning I saw a man pay 100 CHF for his short bus ride to the train station. In Switzerland, most of the buses are self-controlling, meaning the bus driver drives and you as a passenger should purchase your own ticket using either the machine at the bus stop or the one that's on the bus.

Most people are pretty good about this. Either they have purchased a ticket or they have some sort of monthly/yearly pass. Every once in a while 2 or perhaps 3 people will board the bus and after the bus doors close they announce themselves as controllers and you need to show them your ticket. All the dutiful riders are well prepared to show the ticket or pass.

This morning, I could see the two controllers running for the bus I had just got on. So I started to take out my pass. One controller starts at the back of the bus and one made his way to the front. I was at the front, standing. I showed the controller my pass, smiled and was pleased once again with myself that I'm a good Swiss rider. The man sitting next to me, however, was not.

The controller was waiting for the man as he fumbled around for change, then they exchanged some words in Swiss German which I understood to be the man explaining he didn't have enough change, only a 100 CHF bill. This did not move the controller because he told the guy that the machines take 100 CHF bills (at least this is what I thought he said). He also could have told the guy that it's his responsibility to buy a ticket, whatever means possible.

The fine for not having a ticket on the bus is 100 CHF. Once the controller made it clear that the guy is now being fined he threw his 100 CHF bill on the seat in front of him in the direction of the controller. The controller took the bill and wrote out a receipt, and handed it to the guy. Of course there was more grumbling and the man crumpled up the receipt to show his dislike for the events that had just occurred.

The controller was, of course, still unmoved. I imagine they get this kind of resentment every time they write a ticket. Which to me I just don't understand, how can a person be upset at the controller for doing their job, when the rider doesn't buy a 2.50 CHF ticket. They act indigent, angry, talking or even yelling back. All because they failed to purchase a ticket and now have to pay a 100 CHF fine. He could have taken a taxi for less.