A Chinese bus company’s 200kg, US$12,000 fare-dodging problem

Arcade tokens, hell notes and currencies from other countries found among takings, eating into much-needed earnings

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 2:19pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 2:19pm

A cash-strapped bus company in southwest China is struggling to cover costs as fare dodgers toss hundreds of kilograms of scrap metal and counterfeit currency into ticket-money boxes, according to a Chinese news site.

Staff at Zhaotong Public Transport in Zhaotong, Yunnan province, said they found more than 200kg in arcade tokens, hell notes and currencies from other countries among the company’s most recent quarterly takings, Yunnan.cn reported on Sunday.

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The collection also included paper notes used in school lessons and together represented about 80,000 yuan (US$11,740) in lost earnings for the bus company over the three-month period, the report said.

“If you roll or fold up the note, normally the bus drivers can’t see if it’s the right currency until they check the box the next morning,” Lu Daoping, the firm’s deputy manager, was quoted as saying.

Lu said that even if the driver knew a passenger had not paid the correct fare, confrontation generally only led conflict.

He said the company had battled fare dodging since the firm started 13 years ago and had stored the counterfeit coins and notes in a warehouse to ensure that they did not go back into circulation.

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The problem was common throughout province and made it difficult to keep the businesses going, Lu said.

The bus company has 283 buses on 42 routes that together bring in about 100,000 yuan each day, Lu said. But it was struggling to cover expenses.

“I don’t want to lower our bus service standards for just one penny,” he said.

Some commenters suggested installing transparent coin boxes or ones that would allow the driver to inspect the payments.