woensdag, april 05, 2006

Budapest Transit

Although Budapest is a city to walk in, if you remove the human factor, the transit system is also excellent. There are trams,

and subways,

and buses and finiculas

that go everywhere.

And yet, only three hours after buying our week-long transit pass -- a pass that allowed us unlimited use of all transit in Budapest -- we were escorted off a tram. It turned out that in order for our passes to be valid, we had to print out names on them in capital letters. We didn't do this because no one told us to, nor did we see any information telling us to do it.
Several days later, we ran across this sign: Still though, we only saw one of these signs in all of Budapest.
And I've got to say that the lawyer in me reads the words "You are kindly asked to write your name on the ticket . . . if requested" as neither mandatory language nor something that needs to be done in advance of being requested.
Whatever. Did I mention we were escorted off the tram by FIVE of them? And, although I tried, they weren't too interested in debating the fine points of legal construction.
Nor was ignorance of the law an excuse in Budapest.
Neither is entrapment, apparently, which is what it felt like to us as we handed over the 20 Euro fine to what appeared to us to be a gang of five thugs.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I will admit that we later learned that this gang of five were not street thugs, but authorized transit worker thugs. Again, whatever. We also learned that they roam the trams and buses in groups of five because when they did it in ones and twos, they were frequently beaten up by others (who, I'm guessing, also felt they had been entrapped). At any rate, this was our first experience with what we felt was, in the kindest terms possible, unfair treatment.

With treatment like this from figures of authority, is it any wonder that in Budapest, as many cities everywhere, women on public transit spend their lunch hours dreaming of romance as only Barbara Cartland could write about it?

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