• Sweden edition
 
State-funding for 'fare-dodgers' sparks outrage

State-funding for 'fare-dodgers' sparks outrage

Published: 03 May 2012 14:49 GMT+02:00
Updated: 03 May 2012 14:49 GMT+02:00

The Swedish Arts Council (Kulturrådet) has come under fire for providing public funds to help an organization that encourages Swedes to dodge paying fares on public transit systems around the country.

“I can only shake my head in disbelief. The fact that a state authority uses tax money to encourage a criminal offence – it’s remarkable to say the least. It’s astonishing,” Björn Holmberg, the head of SL, the Stockholm Public Transport authority, told the Expressen newspaper.

The newspaper revealed on Thursday that the Arts Council had given 28,000 kronor ($4,140) to help in the publication and distribution of a manifesto from Planka.nu, a network of organizations in Sweden promoting tax-financed zero-fare public transport and which actively encourages people to avoid paying fares.

However, representatives of the Planka organization believe that the issue needs a shift in focus.

“SL always criticizes us, no matter what we do. We want the focus to be on the book, not their opinion of what we do,” said Christian Tengblad, spokesperson for Planka.nu to The Local.

“We’re seeing no economic benefit from this book; the payment was made to the publishers. It’s even on Pirate Bay – we just want people to read our message,” Tengland said.

Planka.nu takes its name from a Swedish colloquialism "att planka" which translates roughly into English as "to dodge fares".

“Travelling without a ticket costs hundreds of millions every year, and that’s just in the Stockholm region,” Holmberg told Expressen.

Planka.nu’s goal is to make public transport free by paying the fines of anyone caught travelling without a ticket, provided they are a paying member.

The organization's views have been encapsulated in a manifesto called "Trafikmaktordningen" ('The Traffic Hierarchy') which will be produced and distributed by the Korpen Koloni publishing house with funds awarded by the Arts Council.

“The book is all about how society treats and reacts to different kinds of motorists, for example, how the car is put at the top of the pyramid. Cities are constructed for cars, not social needs,” Tengblad told The Local.

“We want to redefine this hierarchy.”

The Council has given 21,725 kronor to Korpen Koloni for “literature support” and 6,345 kronor to specifically aid in distributing the Planka.nu manifesto.

On the official website, planka.nu, readers can find information about the best way to use public transport around Sweden without having to pay for a ticket, with subsections such as “If you get caught”.

When asked about the man on the street paying 790 kronor for a monthly pass to ride Stockholm-area public transit, Tengland is quick respond.

“We are the man on the street. We are organizing a mutual fund to split the risk, and we will make a political impact. We want transport to be accessible for everyone.”

The organization encourages members to fare-dodge on buses, trains, and subways.

Planka.nu was founded in 2001 in reaction to public transit fare-prices around Sweden were deemed too high.

The Local/og (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

16:38 May 3, 2012 by Svensksmith
I'd like to start an organization to encourage people not to pay taxes. Can I get some money to start it up, please?
16:44 May 3, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
I pay for my pass each month, and on average I get checked 2 or 3 times a year. If the fine is 800 SEK and the pass is 800 SEK, then until they start to check me an average of 12 times a year, it is better for me to never buy a pass and jump the turnstyles every time.

On top of that, the fare fines are non binding. I've seen people shrug off the fare enforcers and walk away at a good clip into the city night, and the fare enforcers cannot do a thing.

NYC cleaned up violent crime by stopping people who jumped the subway turnstyles, because murderers and armed robbers who were at large were among the people who jumped the turnstyles.

Because there is no serious punishment for murder or other violent crimes in Sweden, but there is punishment for tax evasion, Sweden should might as well get serious about the people who do not buy subway passes. A few murderers and armed robbers might get to see some jail time.

Editor: typo in your first sentence:' fairs' should be 'fares'.
16:45 May 3, 2012 by Beachhannah
I am totally all for this idea. Public transport should be free everywhere so it is fair for everyone to use, it should not discriminate.

If the government does not bring the prices down then they should at least provide an alternative, maybe a free bicycle for each household, student etc...this way you can minimise pollution and increase the health standards. The country is expensive enough, and the tourism industry will suffer if the ticket prices keep going up.

It is a lose-lose situation here.
17:09 May 3, 2012 by gpafledthis
Quoting Abe Lincoln "a society divided cannot stand" Hooray !! Finnies come claim your part !! That is the part the Danes don't summer on !!
17:22 May 3, 2012 by Rishonim
28,000 KR does not equal $ 1,450. Check your facts.
17:29 May 3, 2012 by Reason abd Realism
@ Beachhannah

Free public transport = higher taxes for everybody, even those who do not use the system. Free bicycles also cost tax money, must be maintained/replaced, and do not work that well in the winter.

I do agree however that it is obscene to rip off tourists, with fake taxis, tax surcharges at the Arlanda Express taxi stop, and too high SL fares for short use passes and those paper strip tickets (an SL scumbag once stamped a 3 zone trip on mine before I had a chance to respond, wasting nearly half of my ticket strip). This is giving the cold shoulder to tourists, who hate being nickled and dimed to death. Either the tourist board here has no imagination or no real authority to make meaningful changes to SL's prices.
20:31 May 3, 2012 by SimonDMontfort
From my observation, some people need NO encouragement to be fare-dodgers.

When I used the t-bana to travel into Stockholm's T-Centralen every day, I reckon half the people (in some instances) just vaulted over the barrier (all the time of course talking on their mobile phones) and boarded the trains
21:43 May 3, 2012 by Carbarrister
i've a novel idea. Why doesn't the Arts Council focus on art and art museums. I had to pay 100SEK to visit the moderna Museet. If the Arts Council is flush with cash why don't they subsidize that.
22:13 May 3, 2012 by Kr0n
Free public transport (PT). The term itself is wrong. It is not free. Somebody pays for the infrastructure, its operation, and maintenance. The correct question to ask is how these costs should be split among all the stakeholders and who are those stakeholders.

Ideally, everyone should pay the amount that corresponds to the actual transportation needs of such individual. If he or she does not use PT and drives a car instead then this person should not be paying for PT at all (directly or indirectly through taxes). If a person needs to take a few journeys during a single day, do not force him or her to pay the amount equal to five days of use. Let the daily ticket be priced at 26 SEK (i.e. 790 / 30). And then you would not need zones, as at the price of 26 SEK per day you can travel in all zones.

Alternatively, if the PT is tax-funded, remove the fees for passengers completely, as they have already paid for it. In the same way as education is free, or kindergartens. Issue to all taxayers a special card that serves as a free pass to the PT. Tourists and non-residents would have to buy a ticket as usual.
01:50 May 4, 2012 by glamelixir
@carbarrister

The museums used to be free a few years ago. The moderaterna changes that.
07:08 May 4, 2012 by futureishere
Even if the PT is not free, at the very least they should change the fees structure. At present, I have to pay full amount of 17 SEK (here in Gothenburg) for 90 minutes of travel even if I am travelling for just five minutes. To me, that's a total rip-off. I don't mind paying 17 SEK for 90 minutes of travel but if I am travelling only a fraction of that time, I should have an option of either buying a point-to-point ticket or cut-off my journey time when I get off the transport and should be able to use the remaining time during later journey.
10:00 May 4, 2012 by karex
Funny how the oganization wants to pay fines for fare dodgers - provided they are PAYING members. So they don't want to promote free transportation, they want to take the money for themselves.

#10 is right on the money. It COSTS to run transportation. If people are not charged fares for the use, the money will be taken out of taxes instead, and probably increase those, and those of us who do NOT use the public transportation will be paying for others.
16:10 May 4, 2012 by ann2
Just checked -- it's almost exactly 400 sek for a monthly pass (includes subway and bus) in Boston, Mass., USA (Greater Boston is tenth in population among U.S. metropolitan statistical areas in the United States, home to over 4.6 million people as of the 2010 U.S. Census). Wow.
19:07 May 4, 2012 by redfish
Definition of art these days = anything that makes a claim to be subversive.
21:02 May 4, 2012 by tadchem
Sounds like supporting organized crime (like drug running, trafficking in persons, or samuggling)to me. The only quibble is over the seriousness of the crime.
12:28 May 5, 2012 by Max Reaver
well, we already pay the highest income tax of the entire Europe, so why cant the public transport at least be cheaper than the rest of Europe???
13:43 May 6, 2012 by cogito
@Max,

Was wondering the same: highest taxes and most expensive public transportation. Doesn't add up.
02:52 May 11, 2012 by old git
cause you dont get practically empty buses running until 1 in the morning out in the country side or expensive to buy and run" green" buses or so much ticket fraud and parking is so expensive and penalised that they can do what they like on public transport prices...but a monthly ticket in stockholm anyway is not too bad...and if transport should be free why shouldn.t water and housing and basic food be free for everybody? they are more essential than transport....
Today's headlines
Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat
Rickard Rundgren Björk of the coastguard services speaks to the media after the rescue operation on April 19th 2014. Photo: Maja Suslin /TT

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat

Three Saturday morning sailors had a lucky escape after their small boat collided and sank after it crashed into a cruise ship whilst sailing in the Stockholm archipelago. READ () »

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK
Sofie Marie Jansson. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK

British police have found the missing Swedish girl Sofie Jansson in London, exactly a week after she was last seen, with authorities saying she is doing well. READ () »

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Sweden's opposition party have stepped up its efforts to secure the pensioner vote by pledging to lower taxes for the elderly and make higher earners pay more. READ () »

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend
Showan Shattak pictured in Malmö before his attack. Photo: Facebook

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend

The 25-year-old man, whose stabbing by neo-Nazis sparked mass demonstrations across Sweden, has made a strong recovery in hospital and took to social media to thank supporters for campaigning against fascism. READ () »

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input
Integration Minister Erik Ullenhag visits a school in Tensta, one of the neighbourhoods mentioned when he and his colleagues first floated the new start zone proposal. File: TT

Sweden scraps 'new start zones' after EU input

Sweden has abandoned a plan to ease taxes for small companies in blighted areas after the European Commission challenged its legality. READ () »

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'
A typical Swedish Easter egg. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

'Easter eggs an invitation to spread germs'

A Swedish microbiologist has warned that traditional Swedish Easter eggs laden with candy are an open invitation to the spread of bacteria and viruses. "Is this really a good idea?" he asked. READ () »

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour
Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Jammed truck snarls Stockholm rush hour

PICTURES: A truck got wedged inside a tunnel in central Stockholm on Thursday, with authorities concerned the accident may have damaged cables in the tunnel's ceiling. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Advertisement:
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Society
Jimi Fritze heard every word when doctors discussed taking his organs
Society
A Swedish farmer explains why the new bestiality ban is 'pointless'
ESL
Sponsored Article
Learning Swedish the easy way
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

749
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com