Public transport controllers in Bucharest turn incognito to increase efficiency
The Bucharest Public Transport Company (STB) has announced that its travel card controllers will no longer be wearing the easily recognizable blue reflective vests. With this move, the company aims to increase the efficiency of its controls.
The decision by which these vests were implemented was made by former Bucharest mayor Gabriela Firea in 2016, as a way to remove the possibility of people posing as STB controllers and stealing money.
Six years later, STB has decided to return to controller anonymity, so that travelers will not know when a ticket control is about to happen, and will thus be unable to purchase a ticket right beforehand, to get out of having to pay a fine.
STB told impact.ro about the initiative: “STB has set up the Overcontrol Office to streamline the work of checking travel tickets on public transport. To this end, in June 2022, STB started the first project within the framework of the overcontrol activity, assigning incognito teams of inspectors to the route who are not wearing the blue vests with the CONTROL - STB insignia that the public has become used to. The aim of this action is to encourage all passengers to travel with a valid ticket and to eliminate situations in which they only pay for their journey when they see the control jackets.”
Although controllers will remain anonymous right up until the moment they start checking tickets, they are obliged to offer proof of status and must be carrying the following items in order to do so:
- A control badge, containing the photo and identification data of the STB employee (name, surname, and service number)
- An identity card, which also contains the photo and identification data of the STB employee (name, surname, and service number); a card that is in the controllers’ possession only during working hours.
- The control equipment used to scan and verify travel cards
“Inspectors cannot carry out the ticket check without the ID card and the badge. Without the equipment and without the ID card, surcharge cards cannot be issued. The verification and authentication mechanisms of the employees in the process of checking travel documents are interlinked, precisely to eliminate the possibility that other people could pose as STB employees. Therefore, it is not the blue vest that defines a travel card controller, but the documents and equipment mentioned above,” STB explained.
The current fine for not paying for a trip aboard one of STB’s vehicles is RON 80 (EUR 16), which can be paid in cash or by card. The controller will then issue a special surcharge card which gives a person the right to travel by any STB means for the rest of the day.
The price of a 90-minute trip in Bucharest is RON 3 (EUR 0.6). In 2021, STB cashed in RON 178 mln (EUR 36 mln) from the sale of electronic tickets, the equivalent of 59 million trips. The company had expenses of RON 1.36 bln (EUR 275 mln), most of which were covered by subsidies received from the Bucharest City hall's budget, according to STB's annual report.
(Photo source: STB Facebook page)