Sunday, 1 August 2010

When two worlds collide

I witnessed an interesting interaction on the bus yesterday which threw into stark contrast the different approaches to organising transport around the world.

Copenhagen, in line with most other sensible cities (and I deliberately exclude everywhere in the UK in that statement), operate a single ticketing system with tickets that are interchangeable between any form of transport in a set period of time after stamping. The system works on honesty as there are no barriers, the only difference to the system in say, Rome, is that when you board a bus you have to do so through the front doors to show your valid ticket to the driver.

I picked on Rome specifically, as it was two Italians who had the interaction with the driver (I’m assuming they were from Rome, they could have been from anywhere in Italy, but it’s only in Rome that I have seen similar disregard to signage)

On the rear and middle doors there is a no entry sign. It’s not a complex sign in Danish, it’s the international red circle with a short white line in the middle.

In Rome, no attention is paid to this and boarding takes place through any available door, in fact the only people who follow the signs appear to be tourists (after a couple of days in Rome I found even I had given up on bothering to queue up for the correct doors with the other tourists and was leaping on through any open door.)

However, this isn’t Rome and the bus driver was less than impressed with these random people ignoring a no entry sign. There were some words said in Danish, with no response. In the end the entire interaction was played out in English. It was almost like being on a bus in London when someone fare evading gets caught by the bus driver boarding by the back doors. The shrugs, the mangled used of the English language, and then the international signal for an unhappy driver, the engine being switched off.

At this point a helpful Dane who obviously spoke some Italian (so not satisfied with being fluent in both Danish and English they had obviously learn Italian as an extra!) let them know that they needed to get off the bus, and board properly.

Once they had done this, all was fine, but I suspect that when they get back to Rome it’s going to take them a little bit of time to get back into the swing of boarding through any door that’s open.

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