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Venice Vaporetto 60 Euro Fine for Not Activating Ticket!

Lat week we were charged two, 60 euro fines for not activating our tickets on the Vaporetto in Venice!
We were at fault, but it was an accident. We bought our tickets, but did not see an activation scanner. The gates were open, a boat was coming, so we hopped on. What can I say, it was late afternoon, we were tired. Honestly we did not see a scanner.
Moments later a "conductor" came by said we had to pay the fines because we had not activated our tickets. We had our receipt showing we had bought the tickets 5 minutes earlier! There was no grace shown. Our choice was to pay on the spot or later. We took pay later option
Be forwarded.

Posted by
11613 posts

Well, technically you did not have a valid ticket. It does seem like a high amount, but proportionately (everything is expensive in Venezia) it's about the same as riding the bus/metro/tram without a ticket in other big cities in Italy.

I don't know what happens if you do not pay, but why would you not pay if you were in the wrong? Can people "accidentally" ride public transportation for free in your home town/state?

Thanks for the heads up.

Posted by
7049 posts

The way they see it is that an unactivated ticket is as good as a non-verified ticket. If all you had to do is show a receipt every time and plead ignorance, then you could simply reuse the same ticket over and over (and there'd be no way of distinguishing a used ticket from a new one). I doubt this will happen to you again because 60 EUR is a pretty high deterrent. I don't know what happens if you don't pay since I wouldn't risk not activating a ticket...it's been drilled and triple-drilled into people's thinking (in this forum and in guidebooks) that you have to do this, else you will get fined a disproportionately high amount.

Posted by
15139 posts

Not validating a ticket is equivalent to not having bought one at all.
You could use it the next day for another ride.
The conductor did his job, like the meter maid who gives you a ticket when the meter has expired and you arrive 1 minute later.
I don't know what the consequences of not paying are. Probably none because the ACTV has little recourse in a foreign jurisdiction. I'm surprised they let you take that option since you are not a resident of Italy. I guess that conductor was nice after all. He let you get away with it, without having to show the rest of the riders that you can ride for free just by saying that you forgot to validate the ticket.

Posted by
3207 posts

If you do not pay, you will have to accept that you are a thief and/or dishonest. Can you live with that? I couldn't and wouldn't.

Posted by
15791 posts

The fine was valid, and fines for nonvalidated (when time-stamping is required) public-transit tickets for everywhere else in Italy are high. It should be paid. I assume they took down personal information on you (names, addresses, etc.)?

Posted by
4535 posts

As the others have stated, the fines are valid and while your mistake was un-intentional, you still were riding without a valid ticket. It happens frequently on various European transit systems that require ticket validation and spot checks. Tourists certainly get nabbed a lot because of a lack of understanding how things work, but plenty of locals that try and game the system too.

I'm surprised they gave you an option to pay later - usually you must pay on the spot since it is hard to collect later. Perhaps, as suggested, it was a way for the conductor to give you a "pass" while still doing their job. But be cautious that a collection agency could come calling later, as does happen with unpaid ZTL fines.

Posted by
11 posts

Rick's Venice book does not have a warning other then if you do not have a ticket to buy one immediately from a conductor or risk the fine.
I get it. We were wrong for mistakenly not activating the ticket. But I say it was a "speed trap" designed to exhort extra Euros from tourists.

Posted by
487 posts

Plenty of tourists figure out how the train/bus/vaporetto system works and don't receive fines, it is not a trap.

Just so you know, you also need to validate train tickets in Italy prior to getting on board the train otherwise the same thing might happen. The only train tickets that don't need validation are ones that are for a specific date/time and you will also have an assigned seats. Any general ticket needs to be validated.

Posted by
16169 posts

It is unfortunate, but ignorance of the rules or "accident" is no excuse. You were charged an additional €7,50 each for tickets because your original tickets were still valid for another ride.

The lesson is to ALWAYS validate your vaporetto ticket or pass before boarding. Learn in advance what the validation machine looks like and how to use it. If it is not working ( you do not get a beep and/or green light) be sure to inform the mariner of the problem AS YOU BOARD ( not when they come around checking tickets). Show the ticket and say the validation machine did not work and you still need to validate it. Wait near the boarding area until boarding is complete and they can deal with it.

Posted by
11613 posts

"Rick's Venice book does not have a warning other then if you do not have a ticket to buy one immediately from a conductor or risk the fine."

Sounds like a warning to me.

You are still wrong - it's not a speed trap for tourists, it applies to anyone riding without a valid ticket.

So, does your local public transit system allow free rides for people who don't have tickets or don't pay a fare?

Posted by
7049 posts

But I say it was a "speed trap" designed to exhort extra Euros from tourists.

If it makes you feel better, then go ahead and say that. It doesn't change the fact that you owe 60 EUR.

Posted by
2261 posts

I think I've got it now.

Posted by
752 posts

The ticket cops are out full force on buses too! Even on those tiny electric buses in Florence, two cops board at a time, catch locals with no tickets, and type info into hand-held computers, you never know where they board!

In Rome our bus got swarmed with a whole team of ticket cops right before we turned into Piazza Cinquecento, they checked all of us in a few minutes. Who'd think they'd show up there! Never know where they are!

BTW, I've put many a ticket in a validating box that was broken or not working, it may not have printed, but did make a little hole with a chad, and that worked, that was good enough for the conductor!

Posted by
15791 posts

Rick's Venice book does not have a warning other then if you do not
have a ticket to buy one immediately from a conductor or risk the
fine. I get it. We were wrong for mistakenly not activating the
ticket. But I say it was a "speed trap" designed to exhort extra Euros
from tourists.

No guidebook, no matter how good, covers every detail, and some of the details they do include can change between the time the book goes to print and the time it hits the shelves. It's always best not to rely on them for things like museum hours, entry fees, and all of the ins-and-outs of transport. A quick search of this topic brings up many past discussions on ticketing/validation of vaporetto tickets just on the RS forums, such as this one:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/where-to-buy-vaporetto-tickets

Transport/ZTL/speed cameras fines are traps targeted at tourists? We've seen a lot of those threads too, and the responses are the same as you're seeing here: the authorities are unforgiving (they've heard every excuse in the book) and fines are expected to be paid. Yes, locals who are caught ticketless, without validated tickets or breaking other laws are fined as well (see the 2014 article below on the national issue of fare evasion). It's unfortunate that this happened to you but it's not a 'tourist' trap.

http://www.thenational.ae/business/industry-insights/tourism/venice-targets-fare-dodgers-as-euro-crisis-bites#page1

Posted by
4152 posts

How is it a speed trap designed to trap tourists? You went through an open gate with no consideration of stamping your ticket. The fine is valid. I know some jurisdictions are hiring collection agencies in order to get these legal fines. If they took your information when they gave you the ticket don't be surprised if you get a higher fine in the mail if you don't pay quickly.

Donna

Posted by
7737 posts

In Venice, you have to tap the pass every single time you board a vaporetto. No exceptions.

As far as what happens if you do not pay, allow me to draw your attention to Community Guideline #8: "Do not help people break laws. Speaking of the existence of law breaking is OK. Sharing how to circumvent visa restrictions, scam hotels, or perform other illegal acts is prohibited."

This topic reminds of what happens sometimes in Rome on the buses. Most of the locals all have monthly passes that only have to be validated the first time they board. No need for further validation on trips for the rest of the month. Tourists get on the buses, see that people get on without validating a ticket, and think everyone is a scofflaw therefore they too can skip buying and validating tickets. Wrong. There is a similar huge fine in Rome, but they do not give you the option of paying later. If you don't pay on the spot, they haul you to the police station. We were on a Roman bus one time when the ticket checkers boarded (which they do between stops). There was a nun who didn't have a valid ticket. Whopping fine right on the spot. No mercy.

Posted by
23236 posts

We are currently in France and traveled on the TVG today with a specific ticket with seat reservation. While waiting for our train noticed that nearly everyone was sticking their ticket in a big yellow box prior to going down to the platform. Only a sign in French that seemed to say something about validation. Now we are more familiar with the British, German, and Italian trains systems where you do not validate tickets with a seat reservation. A quick trip to the info point proved that all tickets must be validated. So we followed the practice when we went to the platform.

The big point is ---- you must know and understand the transportation ticket requirements in each country or risk an expensive lesson.

Posted by
32699 posts

The gates were open, a boat was coming, so we hopped on.

I feel for you, and it is sad, but it was your responsibility, and another boat would be along in 9 minutes.

Posted by
649 posts

Certainly don't see it as a "speed trap". There are rules and you could have waited for the next boat or asked someone what to do. I've missed a bus in Manhattan because the validating machine wasn't working and I had to go find another one much farther away.

Posted by
20004 posts

I believe it is a violation simply to be standing on the boarding dock without a validated ticket. You don't even need to get on the boat.
We all make occasional expensive mistakes. Consider it a donation to the wonderful city of Venice. I am still in awe of the vaporetttos. Where else can you find an urban transit system based solely on motor boats?

Posted by
15139 posts

Rick's Venice book does not have a warning..But I say it was a "speed
trap" designed to exhort (sic!) extra Euros from tourists.

My former neighbor in Florence came to the US with his friends years ago. They rented a car, and got caught speeding in a "speed trap" by the highway patrol. They were taken to the police station and had to pay on the spot.

Their Italian guidebook did not have a warning that you would get a ticket if you went above the speed limit.

I say it was a 'speed trap' designed to extort extra US$ from tourists.

Posted by
5202 posts

Heather,

I see that you've edited your original post, in which you had asked what would happen if you didn't pay the fine.

This morning, I recall reading that it happened yesterday & now you say that it happened last week?

I'm confused as to why you'd post something, then change it.

We all make mistakes.... If this had happened to me, I'd have been upset, but I would have just paid the fine.

Posted by
11 posts

It happened last week. We returned home Sunday evening. I thought I had read Rick's book thoroughly, but I did not glean the consequence of not scanning the darn ticket. We were shocked at the time there was no recourse for a mistake, no grace.

I get it from this forum "you did the crime you pay the fine."

Posted by
3 posts

While you may have been a bit surprised by the tone of the replies, I'm sure you have helped out folks who may be going to Venice soon who are unaware of the process. You admitted you were at fault even though it was an accident. I'm sure you think the best of others so it's frustrating when folks don't extend the same grace. I hope the rest of your trip was wonderful!

Posted by
5202 posts

Heather,
I understand your frustration...
Unfortunately sometimes life lessons are hard, and you're absolutely right, oftentimes there's no mercy.

My daughter learned a difficult lesson when she missed a flight (while in Europe) because she & her friend were waiting at the wrong departure gate (2 different airlines were departing at the same time to their destination) & by the time they arrived at the correct one, the airline staff wouldn't let them board the plane. They had to pay for another ticket & wait to fly the following day!

A few years ago, I was talking on my cell phone while at a red light, when a police officer (on a motorcycle) pulls right next to me. When he pulled me over, I explained that I'd just answered my phone & was trying to make a doctors' appointment for my elderly mom. Did he believe me? He actually asked me if my mom needed an ambulance as he handed me my ticket.

I hope you had a wonderful trip despite this unfortunate event.

Posted by
15791 posts

7burrells, I don't know as anyone meant to be unnecessarily hard on Heather. We all make mistakes, and it was unfortunate that this happened to her. I think what some of us are reacting to was the accusation that "...it was a "speed trap" designed to exhort extra Euros from tourists." That's essentially labeling it as a scam, and it's not.

Too many tourists jump to that conclusion when they have a bad experience - - check out some of the posts in the 'Tourist Scam' forum - when in reality some of them just didn't take the time to understand the local laws, failed to adequately protect their valuables, or made any number of other preventable missteps. It's OK to mess up - we've all done it! - but I wince at the scam card being played when that wasn't the case?

Posted by
786 posts

"While you may have been a bit surprised by the tone of the replies,
I'm sure you have helped out folks who may be going to Venice soon who
are unaware of the process."

I feel for Heather and could easily see myself making a similar mistake on our first trip to Venice next May. Now I have this nugget of information to file away and remember (every time!) when we get on the vaporetto. One person's expensive accident is another person's helpful lesson. So there ya' go.

Posted by
752 posts

Well I certainly made the mistake once of not validating a train ticket on a Regionale from Napoli to Riardo, the third conductor would have taken me to jail if he could've, don't know why he didn't fine me, he yelled loud enough!

And this was after 3 months of travel, i had to hang out at those validator boxes, see them as my buddy, that kind of mind trick, beeline to them, whatever it took!

Posted by
11613 posts

Sandra, on this last trip I forgot to validate my regionale ticket - twice! I think because I had a mix of preprinted, Freccia tickets (no validation needed) and machine-bought regionale tickets, so I wasn't automatically thinking about having to validate.

I realized that I was riding without a valid ticket, and found the conductors to tell them. One was nice about it, one was skeptical, but the machine had time/date/location code, I guess, and both signed the ticket and told me to remember to validate.

Posted by
3940 posts

We forgot to validate our regional ticket when in Cinque Terre. Luckily, we were just going from I think Riomaggiore to Corniglia. Not sure how I forgot (other than we had a long travel day from Florence and were tired) but remembered a minute into the ride. The only thing I could think was - crap, please let no one check the tickets. We were lucky it is such a short ride but man - I felt guilty! And I didn't reuse the ticket :)

Posted by
208 posts

Thank you, Heather, for reminding us about the importance of validating our passes. I've been on the Venice vaporettos many times, and I don't remember actually seeing any agents checking tickets. I leave for Venice again next Wednesday, and I could easily forget that the pass needs to be validated (will be getting a multi-day one). As a tourist, our minds are in a million places!

2 years ago, post-cruise, my husband, a friend and I boarded the regional train from Civitavecchia to Termini. Because we had arrived to the station early, if we were fast, we could catch the next train... bought tickets, the train rolled up, we jumped on... all proud of ourselves.... then I realized we hadn't validated the tickets. I grabbed all three of the tickets, jumped back off the train to validate them, when... yup... the doors closed and the train pulled away from the station. My husband and friend, all our luggage (luckily we travel with carry-on, so mine was not much for them to handle), and they had NO tickets. I pounded on the doors and screamed like a lunatic to no avail (pretty funny, in retrospect, even though I was escorted off the platform by two people in uniform who didn't speak a word of English, and I knew only about 2 words of Italian!).

Anyway... we all survived... one lesson... I was soooo glad I still had my purse on (cross-body)... as long as I had my passport and a credit card, I'm "golden".

So... it happens. :-)

Cheers,
Vivian

Posted by
15139 posts

Public transportation throughout Europe is based on the honor system. Basically you purchase the ticket on the ground then validate it (date stamp) before your trip begins, either before boarding or at machines on board the bus. The ticket will then be valid for a ride or for a certain amount of minutes. Bus drivers do not collect the fares, like it often happens in America.

That system is actually more efficient because when you have the bus driver checking that everyone pays, the bus is slower because the driver stops at each stop for a longer time until everybody comes on board and, one by one, pays. Some transit systems in America have adopted that method, for example here in the Bay Area by Caltrain or the SF Muni light rail.

I understand that occasionally a visitor may make mistakes. I also got fined in France many years ago for riding the RER train all the way to Versailles with a metro ticket. You can of course use a Metro ticket to ride the RER but only if you stay within Paris. When you go beyond the city, you need a more expensive ticket. I didn't know, didn't bother to inquire, and got fined. Lesson learned.

But if you are a transit ticket controller (and my dad was one in Florence's bus system for a while) how do you distinguish between the person who genuinely forgets, gets distracted, or is unaware of the system, from the person who knowingly doesn't pay and then uses ignorance as an excuse? They have to do their job, too. Just like the cop who fines you for speeding when you got genuinely distracted and didn't see the posted sign.