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Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

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Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

My wife and I got bus fines today in Bologna. We had only recently arrived and had purchased a ticket from where we were staying which was about 6 or 7 km from the city. The hotel receptionist explained the ticketing system to us and said that if we buy a ticket we could use it on as many journeys for 75 minutes so we took the bus from our hotel to bologna and then straight away got on another bus to get to central bologna where all the sights are. When we got on this other bus we assumed that it was ok as we were still within the 75 minutes. However, when we tried to validate our tickets in the machine it flashed red like an error had occurred so we figured something wasn't right. we tried to ask the driver about it or if we could buy a ticket but he just grunted and started to drive off. We therefore started to leave the bus at the next stop so we could try and buy another ticket or figure out what was going on but were ushered back on by a few men who turned out to be ticket inspectors! They alleged that our tickets were not valid in the city and that we had to pay a 65 euro fine. They wanted to see our official documentation and so took details from our UK driving licences and issued us both with fines. He wanted us to pay there and then but we explained we didn't have enough cash on us to do so and he then stated we could pay by card. However, I still wasn't happy about doing that so he then said that we could pay later by going to an Italian post office or if we don't pay within a certain time the fine will go up to 270 euros each and will be posted to us (he got our addresses off our UK driving licences)!

I am a bit miffed about this as we were noway trying to evade and as soon as we realised our mistake we tried to talk to the bus driver to buy a ticket or get off the bus, but he drove off and ignored us! I have a slight suspicion that it was a rouse as it is very strange that he did this and then out of nowhere bus inspectors got on and made a beeline for us!

If we go back to the UK without paying these fines and ignore the subsequent fines that they send us through the post (if they do send any), then what happens? Do they have any powers when we are back in the UK? a total fine of 500 euros for an honest mistake seems utterly outrageous.

Any advice would be gratefully received!

47 replies to this topic
California
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12,524 posts
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1. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

oh dear...unfortunately, I would pay the fine before it skyrockets....i can understand that you feel it was an honest mistake but sadly there is very little room for error in not understanding rules and regulations of another country. I know...i made a big mistake on the trains and was fined 50 euro on the spot ...i'm not sure about your situation but it sounds like you didn't validate your ticket on the first bus ride? Or the ticket wasn't a transferable type or as they said, wrong ticket in the the city ....perhaps someone else has a better sounding answer.

Edited: 07 April 2017, 06:50
South East England...
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2. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

I must say that I'm very impressed that an Italian bus inspector in Bologna conveyed all this to you in English, just can't imagine our local bus inspectors here in the to UK being able to converse to people from other nationalities in their own language!

mesh

Seattle
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3. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

That's very unfortunate. Since 2010 I've spent about a month each year in Bologna. In that time, I've rarely seen a ticket inspector on the bus so my initial reaction was that it might be some ruse But I went to the Tper website and at least saw that all the facts you mentioned, i.e. 65 euro fine with a maximum of 260 euros, seem to pan out.

So what to do? It does appear that you can pay the fine online with a credit card. According to the website, the minimum 65 euro fine applies for the first 5 days then escalates although the website doesn't disclose exactly by how much or over what time frame before reaching the maximum. So at least there does appear to be a fairly easy way to pay the fine.

So what happens if you simply ignore the fine? I'm not a lawyer so I have no idea what their legal power would be to recover the fine. However, I would speculate that there probably isn't a whole lot they can do to go after you. They can send you bills since they have your mailing address but I don't see how they have any leverage to force you to pay. In contrast with a traffic fine caused while driving a rental car, the rental car company has your credit card information which would provide means of recovering the fine.

Finally, I'm very sorry you had such an unpleasant experience in Bologna. I've generally found the people to very kind and helpful. I think you had a real stroke of bad luck to encounter these ticket inspectors.

Karlsruhe, Germany
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for Baden-Wurttemberg, Baden-Wurttemberg
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4. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

If I understand right, you tried to validate your already validated ticket a second time when you got on the second bus. That was the mistake you made. Stamping one ticket twice makes it invalid.

Pay the fine.

5. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

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Turin
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6. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

Speaking to bus drivers is forbidden and they are not supposed to speak English. They have a schedule and they are paid to drive, not to help people speaking strange languages they don't understand.

The idea of a scam is quite ridiculous. Do you really think there is a group of inspectors waiting all day for a couple of foreign tourists to get on with invalid tickets? Then the evil bus driver calls them with a secret signal? What would they get, given that they must give a numbered invoice for any single fine they make?

It would be easier to admit that you tried to use a suburban ticket on an urban bus.

Unfortunately bus inspectors have heard the same "I did not know it" story from tourists too many times, and now they do not trust anybody.

Vignola, Italy
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7. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

Dear Steven,

about the payment: if you pay within 5 days from the moment of the fine (on-line, if is easier for you) you pay the minimum fine (65€). If you pay within 60 days you are charged of the normal fine (87€). After 60 days the bus company will try to reach you and have the fine being paid for the maximum cost (260€ + expenses, but I am not sure is the maximum is applied immediately or will be escalated). Is possible that the bus company has an agreement with some British company for debt collection, so you are reacheable.

About what happen, unfortunately the bus tickets in Bologna are divided in two kinds: for urban area and for province. A ticket for province is supposed for movments to or from the urban areas or between different towns and villages, but are nt supposed to be used for urbal buses, even if left enough time of validity. Are calculated in minutes because is suposed that sometimes you need to take two or more buses to reach your final destination. For example if I have to go from my town Vignola to Imola I need to reach the Bologna bus station with a first bus and then a second one to Imola wih the same ticket (without validate it again), but I do not need to take any urban bus! On the other side if I need to go in the center of Bologna I need a sub-urban ticket from Vignola to the bus station, than a urban ticket from the bus station to the center.

This mean that unfortunately you was in the wrong and the fine is correct.

For sure there was a lack on what was explained to you when you purchase the ticket and sometimes this rules are not so clear (me to I need to double check on the bus company website for the exact regulamentation).

The reason why the inspectors are so rude in Italy is because Italians often try to do not pay for tickets and if fined start to beg and talk excuses. So there is nothing you can say to change their mind if you haven't the right ticket.

London
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8. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

I can understand that the experience has left a very bitter taste but now Turambar has explained the facts so eloquently, hopefully you are reassured that this was no scam. Unfortunately, it can happen to any of us and sometimes in our own city (or was that just me? :-))

Cremona, Italy
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9. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

It is not an universal rule that bus drivers are not allowed to speak to passengers. In some cities, they are allowed to speak and sell ticket to passengers.

Also, when inspectors are rude there is no need to make excuses for them: they are simply rude people behaving in a rude manner, period.

The sad fact is that many municipalities in Italy are broke or desperately in need of funding: as a consequence they take any opportunity to collect funds through fines or whatever means they have to get some dough.

That said, the OP was clearly in the wrong, there was no scam and he has no option but to pay the fine.

Edited: 07 April 2017, 20:34
pittsburgh
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for Rome
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10. Re: Leaving Italy without paying a bus fine

A lot of companies are not employing debt collectors to come after fine jumpers. Pay the fine as quickly as you can to avoid additional fees.

donna

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