France, TAPIF
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Train ticket trifecta

Something strange has been happening in France. It started on our TGV from Marseille back to Chambéry. We were met at our platform by three SNCF agents checking everyone’s ticket before being allowed onto the train. Then, during the journey, the conductor came by to check our tickets again. Then, on our TER regional train between Lyon and Chambéry, our tickets were checked for a third time.

For those of you wondering what is so strange about this scenario, let me introduce you to my friend, Neal.

Here is Neal flaunting the rules.

Here is Neal, flouting the rules in rebellion.

Neal loves riding trains. But Neal also HATES riding trains in France. I don’t know if it’s simply on the trains that we frequent, but let’s just say that it is an extremely rare occasion that one’s ticket is contrôlé during a journey. I don’t know what the contrôlleurs could possibly be doing, but it seems that it is very rarely controlling tickets. And so, Neal is constantly lamenting the fact that he wasted 18€ on a ticket, when no one controlled to see if he was legally on the train. This animosity extends to ground transportation as well: buses, metros, trams where controlling is equally if not even more rare.

Of this pile representing the majority of tickets and passes I have accrued, not even a quarter of them have a punch, indicated they were checked by the conducter....

Of this pile representing the majority of tickets and passes I have accrued, not even a quarter of them have a punch, indicated they were checked by the conductor….

If the above photo doesn’t paint enough of a picture for you, I can also add that I have left the country via train on two separate occasions, and on only one of the four requisite trains was I asked to show my passport and/or ticket. Now do you understand why this is such an anomaly?!

But, it gets curiouser. In Lyon this past week, not only were we controlled on both the aller and retour, we also were controlled IN THE METRO!!! Two months of living in Paris and I didn’t once see tickets being checked. 22 years of living in DC, and never have I ever seen someone’s metro pass checked.

So, my last two forays into public transportation have resulted in a trifecta of ticket monitoring. I think it is safe to say that the controlling…..is out of control!  ❂

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