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Transport Crackdowns in Paris...

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The Parisian Transport Authorities have really stepped up enforcement - to the tune of issuing fines to 5,000 people during a 12-hour period on November 5th. Enforcement on this level will continue throughout the month of November for certain, and will likely continue to a lesser degree throughout the year. In the very near future, agents will be able to track your real address, so recuperating unpaid fines will be much easier. Within the next 3 years, automatic gates will be installed at the busiest RER and SNCF stations, to help curtail the level of passenger fraud (meaning people who just want to ride for free will find it much more difficult).

Agents in uniform carrying validation machines (like credit card machines) are currently checking the exits in different neighborhoods and different Metro/RER and SNCF stations - anyone who claims to not know how the system works, does not have a valid ticket, "forgot" to top up a Navigo card, doesn't write their name and date on a pass, tries to jump the turnstyle or do anything else dumb will receive a fine. Nothing was mentioned about the bus, though I'm sure that will be covered, as well.

Unfortunately, there are always a few reports from people who have been scammed by people posing as Transit Agents. If you are stopped and aren't sure why, you have the right to ask for identification, and should do so in a calm manner. If you think it's a scam, you should ask to take several photos of the agents and their ID's, which will probably put a quick end to things. Or, look around for someone in a nearby booth and ask for assistance. If you do get scammed, it's a good idea to make a police report - security checks are only beefed up when people report incidents such as these.

You have the right to contest a genuine fine, even though you must generally pay on the spot. Here is a French website with the information, including a model letter:
http://droit-finances.commentcamarche.net/faq/86-contester-une-amende-dans-les-transports-en-commun-modele-de-lettre

Remember to always validate your ticket or pass, keep your current ticket handy, then toss it in the trash only after your trip is completed and you reach the safety of street level.

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