Here are a number of schemes that have been used by passengers to avoid paying the full transit fare or employees trying to take advantage of their position by keeping some of the collected fares for themselves. All of these schemes were found out by the transit company and the violators caught and procedures modified to prevent recurrence. These are NOT meant to be how to schemes. They are posted strictly as entertaining histories of the transit industry. Neither Joe Korman nor EARTHLINK NETWORK can be held responsible for anyone attempting to use these schemes.






Up until the depression in 1929 most large cities operated trolley cars with a motorman and a conductor. The motorman was responsible for moving the trolley, while the conductor collected the fares from the passengers. Most fares were five cents. As he collected each fare, the conductor was supposed to pull a lever which was connected to a "FARE CLOCK" which counted the number of fares he collected. During the rush hour, it was not uncommon to find a conductor collecting 10 fares and ringing up 9 to the FARE CLOCK.

Most trolley companies had a group of "undercover" agents randomly riding cars and counting fares registered by the conductor. Any abuse was reported to the company and disciplinary action taken against the offending crew member.


Here is a simple way of beating a commuter rail line which uses monthly flash commutation tickets. Most of these type tickets have a 'M' for male and 'F' for female ticket holder on opposite edges. It didn't take long for commuters to buy one ticket, cut it in half and husband and wife each take the appropriate half. Each must be careful to display only enough of their half so that the scheme would not be found out by a conductor checking tickets.

This TWO FOR ONE 'SALE' was later prevented by the train crews asking to punch the tickets each week of the month the ticket is for. The discount gained by using the monthly ticket honestly is lost by paying the full fare on punch days for those splitting a ticket.


This scheme devised by a bus operator many years ago is probably the most ingenious that I've ever heard. The bus driver decided that he wanted to make his own profit sharing program. He bought his own fare box and had his wife meet him at the end of the line every day. There, they would switch fare boxes and kept all of the fares on the next trip. Before returning the bus to the depot, they would switch the boxes again.

In order to protect his secret, the driver had to work every day and not call in sick. He was found out when, one week he became too sick to work. The substitute driver, not knowing about the scheme, collected an all time record for that run every day. When the scheming driver returned to work, the fares declined to the previous low levels. The bus company immediately sent out agents to follow the bus, and they found out about the fare box switch. .


This scheme worked on a relatively new rapid transit company (30 years ago) which used magneticaly coded tickets. The magnetic tickets are placed into the turnstile to enter the system and again to exit the system. The ticket is captured by the turnstile at the exit. In order for this scheme to work the transit line must have a variable fare structure in which a double fare between local stops is less than a round trip fare between the two terminals of the line.

Here is an example:

Outer Term to City $.45

Round trip to City $.90

City local fare $.30.

Outer zone local fare $.30

Note that the sum of the two local fares is less than a round trip on the full line.

How the scheme worked:

Buy a local outer zone fare ticket and take a ride to the city. Put the local outer zone ticket away for later.

On the first day only, an accomplice must buy a local city ticket and validate it, but not enter the line.

When you arrive in the city, your accomplice gives you the validated local city ticket to get out.

On the way back in the afternoon, buy a local city ticket and use it to get onto the system.

Put this ticket away for tomorrow morning. After arriving at the outer terminal, use the local zone ticket from the morning to exit.

Now each day buy a new local ticket to enter the system and save it for exiting in the afternoon.

In the city used the previous day's local ticket to get out and buy a new city local ticket to go home in the afternoon.

For $.60 a day you are getting $.90 worth of travel. The transit company changed the magnectic tickets to include the date and time of validation. Any ticket used for exiting on which time has expired, is captured and the passenger is required to pay an additional fare.

2004 by Joseph D. Korman