Online 'Insurance' Group For Melbourne Trams Cops Govt Threats

Tramsurance is a clever little idea. Melbourne commuters form an online group and pay $20 per month into a kitty. When someone in the group cops a fine from not having a ticket on Melbourne's public transport, the crowdsourced insurance fund covers it. Cool idea, right? Not according to the authorities, who want the online group shut down.

Tramsurance was set up for Melbourneites last month and in a little over a fortnight, the online group has attracted the attention of Public Transport Victoria, according to Reuters.

Tramsurance has reportedly been told to shut down its website or face police intervention. Public Transport Victoria adds that it might encourage people to travel without their Myki smart cards on Victorian transport.

The founder of Tramsurance, Tom Pisel, isn't fussed though.

He writes on the group's Facebook page:

If you've been following along, we're coming against some very strongly worded letters. Never fear - it'll take more than words to stop us. There is too much momentum and support behind us now. All we have at this stage is an idea, an idea that has become very popular very quickly for one reason. The Melbourne public is dissatisfied with with how public transport and Myki have been handled. Public Transport Victoria is threatening to litigate against us rather than address the concerns of those it represents.

We will not take down the site. That would be a little silly given that we haven't operated anything yet. Tramsurance started off as a simple experiment, but we can all agree that it's much more than that now. We are currently seeking legal advice to better understand the options open to us. Rest assured, the final version of Tramsurance will operate fully within the law. We will announce our decision tomorrow, when we are better informed. In the meantime, please don't fare evade. That's against the law.

Much love,

Tom Pisel

Tramsurance heralds itself as "the hero Melbourne deserves, but not the one it needs right now."

Would you use Tramsurance? [Reuters]

Image: Tom Pisel



    The website is hosted outside of Australian jurisdiction, Public Transport Victoria should be the ones facing a police inquiry not the site owners.

      The owner of the site is (presumably) located in Australia, offering (or about to offer) a service to people in Australia. I hate overbearing government intervention in the web as much as the next tach minded person, but in this case where the site is hosted is largely irrelevant, or even the fact that it is a website and not being advertised/provided my more traditional means.

      If they believe the service is illegal then it's perfectly reasonable to ask that it stop being advertised/provided, regardless of the means by which it is done so.

    Probably not, because I personally choose not to take something I haven't paid for/earned, unless it is given freely. That said, I do support the idea as a very visible protest against Myki/Metro.

    I dont understand why the government would care so much, at least this way the fines get paid, i'm not from melbourne i'm in sydney, and i know that the NSW gov is owed around $4 billion in unpaid fines, i'm sure the Vic gov has an amount similar. I think it its a great idea, i hope they bring it up to sydney.

      The government cares because it expects every member to never pay a fare and expects that a. the lost revenue will exceed the value of the fines and b. the fines will go into consolidated revenue rather than the tram's income.

      LOL! How do you think the premier pays for his lunches? With money he stole from you!!! Money which should have been spent on tracks and trains!!! But which was spent on....drum roll please...............MYKI!!!!!
      An outrageously expensive system that does not work. This happened because people you payed taxes/rates etc to, so that they would run a public transport system for you, failed to due it with due diligence and proper care. In effect, they took money from you, and irresponsibly lost it. I am sure you go to work and do your job properly every day, why can't they? Especially when we pay their salaries.

    No need for this if you travel at peak times and have a Myki card - validate if you see four of the most diverse people that you wouldnt expect to be talking to each other, talking to each other and pushing all of the buttons on the ticket machine, one of them will usually be very very large (or fat), another will be kindof big, another will usually be asian or indian and there will be up to two girls, but no more that that. Oh and in winter they usually wear polar fleece, and bad shoes.

      This, is an accurate comment.

      Before i rode to work i took the tram, and paid for the ticket minus the cost owed to me by Yarra Trams for a poor service, high costs and thuggish ticket inspectors. Not surprisingly the cost i paid was $0, after deducting what was owed to me.

      so i was looking for ticket inspectors all the time, and they are so easy to spot most of the time. Just look for a bunch of people who dropped out of high school, believe they are the answer to cancer and bully others.

      i support this initiative and protest 100%. I wish there was more of it around.

        Wow, what a hero.

        So you are now "owed" money when you receive poor service? Do you shoplift stuff from Myer if you don't get served in time, or the person is a bit abrupt?

        And how are you "owed" money due to "high costs"? Again, do you shoplift from expensive boutiques if you consider their prices too high?

          It's not being owed money. Public transport really should be free - your opting not to drive in, significantly reducing congestion on roads etc and ultimately saving money. Conductors have been replaced by Tram and Train inspectors, and if there aren't enough of them to patrol the trams, then why shouldn't I ride for free? If there was a tram inspector on board, I wouldn't have had to nearly get hit by the junky on my tram today, and I actually validated...grr...Anwyay, I believe your analagy is crappy, its like the you wouldn't steal a car but I would download one, or if my friend said he could burn one to a disk I'd take it. A far better analagy would be that if you went to a movie theatre, and there was no one manning the door ever, would you go in and watch the movies for free.

            Why should it be free? The ticket revenue is already far below what it actually costs to run the network, so you want an even bigger subsidy?

            The analogy is different to the car ads, as it is looking purely at his claim that he is somehow "owed money" because of poor service and/or high prices. That is a ridiculous claim whether we are talking about an intangible service or a tangible good. The movie analogy also works though, for the same reason - and the answer should be the same - i.e. no.

              attila, if you are ok with accepting what i believe to be less then the bare minimum from a service, then go ahead, the corporations will love you for it.

              I on the other hand preferred to protest my disgust with what was considered 'public transport' - more like cattle transport. I have lived in Singapore, and Thailand and can tell you that the public transport is appropriate in both countries (very cheap service in Thailand, and very cheap cost, pretty good price in Singapore, and pretty good service).

              In Australia it is very bad service and very bad price.

              referring to the analogy about the cinema complex, i would go in if there was no one to stop me, because i am sick to death of paying $70 ish for my family to go see a movie, so it would be nice to get one on the house every once in a while.

                No - you are accepting it as well, despite your high handed claims to the contrary. Your acceptance is shown by the fact that you still use it. If a good or service isn't up to an acceptable standard, I don't use it - I don't steal it or use it illegally. The fact that you admit that you only buy a ticket to the cinema because there is someone stopping you getting in otherwise shows your lack of morals.

                  I have morals about stuff that actually matters. If they want to scrap conductors, and save revenue that way, that's fine, but don't expect me to validate. If I get fined, it's $150, no biggie, but I don't. I don't really mind if it's bankrupting metro or the victorian government. Attila - do you work for Metro or are you affiliated with the government in any way?

                  Morals are personal - so they are relative. On a side note, i stopped using the Tram and now ride to work. With the Cinema, i only go a few times a year with my family so it is ok i guess, but i would never go there as often as i used to.

              The ticket revenue is low because honest, hard working people who have paid for years (yes me!) are so pissed off they aren't going to take it anymore. And aside from my own rage. When I am waiting at my tram stop in the city I constantly have tourists asking how they get a ticket...and I have to say to them..."You can't, a myki card comes in the post, the med card machines are gone...just ride the tram...they can't fine you!". I live on Bridge Rd in Richmond and there was nowhere for kilometres around that I can top up my myki card. They have failed to provide the needed infrastructure for people to buy tickets and therefore...people have not bought tickets. This is why ticket revenue is too low.

          I think you are kind of missing the point. We pay for public transport through rates and taxes and of course....paying. I myself live about 5 km's from the city centre, and the difficulty, and time it takes, to get a tram 5km to COMPLETELY insane. It is not acceptable and so I think this sort of protest is justified. Oh and I forgot to mention, travelling a couple of km's to and from work, between monday and friday costs me $110 a month!!! It's obscene. They now have a smart ticketing system installed (albeit dodgy) the least they could do is charge you a fare based on how far you travel and not based on how they can make their shoddy ticketing system work! If the system was expensive but good, it would be ok, if it was cheap, and crap, that would probably be ok too, but for it to be expensive and crap.....we all deserve better from our public servants, when it comes to public transport.

    so ... everybody travels without paying anybody but tramsurance? Based on the cynical observation that the AVERAGE cost of being fined if low compared to paying fares?This can obvious be simply extended to all fines, for example fines for drink driving, speeding or public indecency - there is no way this will be allowed to stand - it is either illegal now or shortly will be :-) Really smart idea, but the kind of thing that makes the general public fear that tech companies lack a moral compass.

      Yup, this will end up in the same category as letting somehow else use your driving license points.

    Its not a clever little idea at all. Put at its best, its just an insurance product - which is hardly original. At its worst (and the truth) it is designed to encourage and facilitate fare evasion.

      The amusing thing is that there is a point where the total in fare evasion fees will be more than the monthly fees tramsurance gets. And then what are people gonna do? Complain about the rising tramsurance fees?

      it does neither of these things (encouraging or facilitating fare evasion). That would mean that car insurance encourages and facilitates car accidents, home insurance encourages robbery, and the police encourage crimes (simply by being there).

      this service allows those who are subjected to cruel and unfair punishment and treatment from the transport authority to ensure that at least they will not be financially punished to the extent at which the authority would see it.

        If you car insurance agreed to pay your fine for deliberately driving whilst unregistered, then the insurance would be encouraging law breaking - just as this scheme is. But it doesn't - doing so will actually invalidate your insurance.

          Who's laws? It's not against the law to fare evade. It's a finable offence, but It's not illegal.

            Even if it was illegal - is that really a reason not to do it?

            being gay was once (and still is) considered illegal in some countries / states, does that mean that it was wrong? what about the laws in some Islamic rules countries - are they good or bad laws?

            the point is that a Law is not the absolute rule on an action, and thus 'breaking the law' should not be considered amoral. Sure you should keep in good stead with the laws of the land, but what you are really doing is either following them because you believe they are right, or you dont want to break them - not because they are the absolute truth on the action.

            so what i am saying is, "I understand the need for law, however i have reached a point where i understand that i am also able to perform an action against the law without it being 'wrong'"

            ask yourself this, if it was the law to perform an action that was against what you thought was right, would you still do it?

              Equating fare evasion with being homosexual in countries where that is illegal - truly we are through the looking glass now.

                Your 'being' will chose its own vehicle for which to convey an expression of ones own. In confinement this is abstracted from arbitrary governing laws, however when surrounded by peers you tend to 'fall into line'. Some of us brake through this convention and thus stand out from the crowd.

                So yes, they are the same, just looked at differently.

                Think about it for a while.

                  haha - its gets even better. Shine on you crazy diamond - break through those conventions, subvert those dominant paradigms, sneak into those cinemas (provided no one is manning the door)!

                If the law makes sense, obey, and if not, disobey. Makes sense to me.

        Generally speaking the majority of the component of car and home insurance is taken out against actions from parties outside of your control (someone running a red light and smashing into you, a storm pulling down a tree into the roof of your house).

        This "insurance" is directly targeted against the likeliness of you getting caught doing something illegal INTENTIONALLY. I think that is the difference here. Very few at fault car insurance claims were from people who intentionally ran into another car because they wanted to replace a broken headlight, and if I'm not mistaken, most insurance companies won't even cover you if you were driving illegally (under the influence, speeding excessively).

        Another aspect is the price. It's not priced at people who pay the fare every day and only want cover to the off chance that they were running late and forgot their card. In these circumstances you can usually get the fine waived or reduced by showing your travel history.

        It's not a new idea globally. In the UK there are similar schemes for the London public transport systems.

        All that being said, I ride to work most days and don't use the train enough for this type of insurance to be worth it. Public transport in Brisbane has become ridiculously expensive since the GoCard was introduced, and it's going up by another 7% again next year (more than double CPI).

      Fare evasion is a fine under Administrative law. ie: It is not illegal (criminal) to evade a fare. Also it is easily taken to court and won though most people wont (but that's another issue) Because of this an insurance (if you could call it that) of this type is exactly the same as any other insurance company offering individuals or organisations insurance for risk matters such as 'public liability' negligence, legal costs, breaches of admin/tribunal rules, etc etc etc.

      It's not illegal nor unlawful for any company to offer this service to the public as long as they are not misleading or fraudulent about their service. In fact it's a highly ethical idea (though might be against your own personal morals - though that's relative only to yourself) that makes the fine system (and therefore govt) more transparent.

      Bring it to more cities I say, maybe then governments will sit up and take notice that they should be providing the service that they are supposed to provide instead of relying on the old "it costs too much" model of economic fraud they currently do.

    Is it insurance or is it a co-operative pool of funds -- a trust if you will, out of which members can request assistance for paying any fines accumulated. Another thing they might consider is a mobile phone app (Android & iOS), that people can use to dob in the location of Spare Infectors the way apps exist which publish the location of speeding cameras.

    Someone should do the same for Citirail here in NSW.

    If it was true insurance you would have to pay a $500 excess plus a loading for under 25s. If so, I support this initiative!

      I second that! Other options would be time of journey (likeliness of being caught would increase) how often you use public transport, whether you have done any accredited officer avoidance courses etc. . .

    Do you not consider that if everyone paid to travel that public transport would become cheaper? On the flip side, the profits should be reinvested on improving our infrastructure.

    Perhaps someone should start a "fund" so that everyone can stop paying income tax as well?

    By signing up I wonder if you do not just provide a list for them to send you out fines for fare evading (seeing as you admit to travelling without paying).

      I'm pretty sure that enough people pay absurd fares, plus the money they get from the government, that if they weren't a pack of f%^k ups, things would be fine!!!!!!!!!!!
      And everyone SHOULD stop paying income tax. Only companies should be taxed. There is your incentive to work...YOU GET TO KEEP IT ALL!!! stop standing up for the shrine to medioctrity that is, YARRA TRAMS!!!!

      @Magsin, I'm pretty sure that if everyone paid to travel public transport it wouldn't be cheaper--profits would be higher. In fact, if everyone paid their fare it would actually make sense that they *raised* ticket prices to increase profits.

    I have a feeling that they'd fail.
    The people paying for the 'insurance' would most likely be the ones not having tickets. Unless the fine is $20 per person (pretty sure it's not) or the group manages to get some real good interest on the account the money would be held in (which Tramsurance would probably use to pay themselves), they probably won't have enough money to pay out.

    Wouldn't BUYING A TICKET be a far cheaper alternative?!

      The article prices the insurance at $20 a month. From my house (considered inner city) in Brisbane, if I were to take the train each day, which I don't I cycle most days, it would cost me $32.22 a WEEK.

      This insurance is much cheaper.

      Oscar, it's $20 a month. I spend that in less than 2 days with Myki..... can't believe how expensive it is for transport in Melbourne. It costs an arm and a leg (while I typing with 1 hand) ;)

    Would love to see what happens when they don't have the money to pay everyone's fines

    It's "Melbournites" not "Melbourneites". I say! To thee!!!!

    To all the scum who think its ok to use a public service and not pay. If you think the service is so bad, don't use it. So you'd be happy to work for nothing too? Heres some news for all you cheapskates, promoting or encouraging breaking of the law, is a breach in itself. You all think you're so much smarter or above the law. Well you're not. This joker will get a visit from the boys in blue, find himself slapped with a summons and cop his right whack. Thats what happens to smartasses. And to all you smug fair evaders, the fines have risen, and theres one waiting just for you.

    Just needed to put in my two cents - I'm not a fare evader and will happily pay a couple of dollars for a ride. But the myki system is just not fit-for-purpose.

    I rode a few stops last week, changed trams, rode a few more (it was raining). My Myki was charged over ten dollars. Under the old system a $3.50 (or so) two hour ticket would have seen me through..

    I work in the IT industry and one of the key priciples - KEY - is that a new product needs to be at least as functional as the last.

    Just a poor system. I support this as a protest against a poor system that has made public transport convoluted and the opposite of what it should be.

    Hate to think of what tourists would think.

    Well done team.

    The self-entitlement in the comments section is sickening, and does little to dispel a sinking feeling that people's morals are forever malleable to their own selfish desires. It's as bad as the self-checkouts at the supermarket with people claming their bag of cherries is really its weight in watermelon. If you can't afford it, tough. Nothing is rightfully yours except what you earn with work.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now