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There is this rule in Oslo public transport that has me wondering. I am gonna get to the more extreme example in the title of the question near the end, but I will start with an actual example that happened to me today:

Today, I took the metro from the Jernbanetorget to Ullevål Stadion for a quick errand, and got a single use ticket for the trip. This ticket lasts for 60 minutes.

When my errand was done and I was about to hop on the metro for my 15 minute trip back home to Tøyen, I noticed that I still had 5 minutes left on my ticket from earlier. So my ticket would be valid for the first 5 minutes of my trip, but for the last 10 minutes of my trip, my ticket app would say that I had no valid ticket.

According to Ruter:

You may transfer to other means of transport (free transfer) in those zones for which the ticket applies, as long as the ticket remains valid when you get onboard.

Emphasis mine.

I reasoned that my stop at Ullevål Stadion can be considered a free transfer, and that the ticket is considered valid for the entire trip home to Tøyen as well, as long as the ticket is valid at the time of boarding.

It only makes sense that a ticket is valid for an entire leg as long as it is valid at the time of boarding. There are many trips inside Zone 1 for which the fastest route takes longer than 1 hour (such as going from Bjørndal to Voksen Skog). If you could not go on such a journey on a single Zone 1 ticket of 60 minutes, but would have to purchase multiple tickets for a single trip just because the buses are slow, that would be rather unreasonable.

This makes me wonder, though, because there is no way to prove what sort of trip you have been on. (The ticket app does not collect location data, and there are also "offline" travel cards).

As an extreme example, I could have taken the bus or metro from somewhere else in Groruddalen to Grorud, then, with 2 minutes left on my ticket, boarded the 31 bus to Snarøya. Over an hour and nearly 40 stops later, when I am nearly at Snarøya, my ticket should (even though it technically expired over an hour ago), be valid, since it was valid when i boarded the bus.

However, if I am stopped by ticket inspectors, I can not prove this. I might be a travel enthusiast who likes going around Oslo for the views. However, to ticket inspectors it might seem like an unlikely scenario that I boarded the 31 bus with a ticket with only 2 minutes left on it, over an hour ago.

One solution I have thought about is to let the driver know when I am boarding the bus, so that he can vouch for me in case the inspectors do not believe me. However, what about the metro, where one can not talk to the driver?

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    I assume that the answer is not more spectacular, than that the ticket inspector must prove that you entered whatever you are currently travelling on with an invalid ticket and not the other way around that you have to prove that you have been long enough aboard. Nov 12 at 13:33
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    I know nothing about the Oslo transit system, but: what kind of ticket is it? Paper, magnetic, smart card, phone-based? Is there any validation when you board the bus or enter the metro system? In many places, validation is mandatory on each transfer, so (a) the system can check your ticket is still valid and (b) there is a record somewhere that you entered that specific bus with a valid ticket. How does validity start (and end) if there's no stamping or validation of any form?
    – jcaron
    Nov 12 at 17:25
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    @WeatherVane I am definitely saying that. The transport system can not keep record, because it has no way of knowing which travelers are on which buses and are traveling where. The ticket app does not need location access to work, and only uses it (optionally) to help people buy tickets for the right zone. You can very well just deny location access to the app, buy your ticket for the correct zone, and be on your way. Similarly, you can get an NFC travel card, activate it on a random station, and then be on your way, without letting it interact with the transport system at all after that.
    – Fiksdal
    Nov 12 at 19:03
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    @WeatherVane Yeah, there is no such system in Oslo. You do not need to stamp or validate anywhere (apart from the act of activating your ticket before use). The only reason for having a ticket (apart from ethics and morals) is that you risk being checked by inspectors and fined if you do not have one. Oslo did try to implement a UK-like system years ago (and spent loads of money setting up gates and checkpoints), but later abandoned the idea.
    – Fiksdal
    Nov 12 at 19:10
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    @Willeke If you use the ticket app or the NFC based travel card in Oslo, you can't buy a new ticket before the previous ticket has expired. The app won't let you buy one and if you use the NFC card on a ticket vending machine, the vending machine will simply tell you that you don't need a new ticket, since you already have a ticket on the travel card valid for the new trip. Nov 12 at 21:02
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+500

The tl;dr answer — based on personal experience with similar situations — is at the time you board the bus, take a screenshot of the app if you only have your phone, or even better, take a photo of your mobile with the app activated with some kind of bus identifier in the background, or at least the farebox, should you also have a camera with you (as you might when you are sightseeing).

As a longer answer, in practice, in more casual cultures, a fare inspector probably will listen to what you say, look at their watch, nod, and move on, especially if you clearly are a local. In most places, a long suburban route is unlikely to have fare inspectors because ridership is not high enough to cover the cost of enforcement, either.

However, depending on the culture and the severity of a potential penalty — particularly if you do not speak the local language well or at all — it really isn't that paranoid to document your entry accordingly. If it is an option, you might also just choose to buy a new ticket if you're cutting it close. Transit commonly is underfunded as is.

As a couple of real-world examples:

  1. In Vancouver, Canada, before TransLink put in turnstiles on the train, fare inspections were conducted by police and reportedly those without a ticket or with an expired ticket actually could be charged with an offence and compelled to attend court. Vancouver has turnstiles now, thankfully. However, if you are in a city where the penalties potentially are so severe and time consuming, a screenshot or a photo definitely is worth the effort!

  2. In Paris, France, I once just purchased a Navigo monthly pass from a local shop. You are required to then take a photo of yourself using a vending machine in the metro and manually affix this physical photo to your card. The photo machine was broken in the nearest metro station, so I used my phone to take a photo of the metro card and the receipt in front of the broken machine with its "out of order" screen visible. Figuring that the odds of getting hassled by a fare inspector on a single trip were unlikely regardless, I went on the train with the plan to use the photo machine at the arrival station.

    Paris, of course, is notorious both for locals jumping turnstiles without payment and for fare inspectors that enforce aggressively at stations with heavy tourist traffic. Despite the single trip, I was intercepted by fare enforcement in a tunnel at the arrival station, but because I had the documentation, I was permitted to go upstairs to use the photo machine in that station without penalty. Had I not taken a photo of the broken machine at the departure station, it likely would have been an expensive and unpleasant encounter.

Ultimately, a little bit of documentation always is a good idea, particularly if you think there might be the possibility of a dispute. Safe travels!

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    Good suggestion. But FWIW, simple fare evasion isn't a crime in Canada, it is a municipal or provincial offence, similar to a speeding or even a parking ticket; but unlike some other countries, police officers or peace officers in general have no power to fine you, that is, to compel you to pay a certain amount of money; only a court can do so if it finds you guilty of a violation of law. Appearance in a court is for the protection of your rights and you can waive it by admitting to the offence (pleading guilty) and pay the ticket.
    – xngtng
    Nov 13 at 13:56
  • @xngtng Thanks for the feedback. I have updated the applicable sentence to say charged with an "offence" and "compelled" to attend court. Is this more legally accurate? This answer wasn't intended to be legal advice. The point generally is that in some places, if there were a dispute, you might just have to pay a small "penalty fare" on site and move on with your life. Dealing with a courtroom is an enormous hassle by the standards of many cultures.
    – travelgasm
    Nov 15 at 7:20

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