Public transport operators in Switzerland have set up a joint national register for fare dodgers.
The digital register is active since April 2019 and aims to better tackle the problem of fare evasion on buses, trams and trains, which causes losses of millions of euros yearly.
Transport operators held fare dodging databases previously, but these were internal to each company. Under the current scheme, if a passenger is caught traveling without a valid ticket on a SBB train in Bern in March, and on a VBZ tram in Zurich a few months later, this will be considered a repeat offence and a surcharge will apply.
Past statistics indicate that around 3% of the total 2 billion journeys taken annually in Switzerland are made without a valid ticket (=60 million illegal trips), bringing losses of CHF 50 – 100 million. However, only 1.4% of fare evasions are actually penalised and recorded.
The new system was adopted after a parliamentary resolution which was first proposed in 2013.
Switzerland’s Federal Data Protection and Information Commissioner (EDÖB) informs that with regards to data protection, personal details will be kept on file for two years from the last offence, after which they will be deleted.
Passengers are entitled to view their files by request. However, ticket inspectors or managers are not able to access the database directly, but are given feedback whether a person has committed previous offences.
Ticket fines have the following costs:
In 2018, Swiss Post reported the following key figures:
- 75,000 fines
- 30,000 reminders
- 18,000 customer enquiries
- 12,000 complaints for 3rd offences
- 7,000 prosecutions
- 5,000 goodwill claims
“We are convinced that the national register acts as a deterrent to regular undocumented drivers.” said Thomas Ammann, spokesperson at Alliance Swiss Pass, the national organization for public transport.
Josianne Walpen, Head of Mobility at The Foundation for Consumer Protection SKS supports the database and added “We would find it useful to differentiate between wilful and negligent violations.”