On the caltrain

As the conductor walked down the aisle today checking for tickets, he said aloud, “Trick or treat. Ticket or citation!”

He paused for a moment and said to himself, “Hmmm…that’s too mean…”

Caltrain is a fare-based system where conductors wander up and down the aisles checking the validity of tickets.

But last Sunday, as we took a local caltrain down to Mountain View, a conductor came upon a man who had a ticket that already expired. The man was pulled into the area between the cars. At the next stop, the conductor basically kicked the man off the train saying that he would have to find some way of getting to his destination.

The next train would be in one hour. And at least he was somewhere in the middle of the peninsula rather than the desolate reaches of San Francisco.

I still have yet to see a conductor give someone a citation (how do you give a person a ticket if they don’t have any identification with them?). I only have witnessed conductors being rather harsh with other passengers usually ending with “next time, check your ticket”. But the social conformity and the desire not to cause any trouble almost persuades nearly all of us to buy a ticket even though we may not be checked…

Because it’s the right thing to do.

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