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How to Cheat the Mumbai Train System

A blogger named Ganesh Kulkarni discovered that the commuter trains of Mumbai serve six million passengers daily but the system isn’t equipped to check everyone’s ticket. Instead, Kulkarni writes, ticket agents conduct random ticket checks. This has given rise to a form of cheating that is elegantly called “ticketless travel.” Although it’s probably not very common to get busted for traveling ticketlessly, there is a significant fine if you are. And so, Kulkarni writes, one clever traveler has devised an insurance policy to make sure that ticketless travelers who are caught can lay some of the expense.

Here’s how it works. You pay 500 rupees (about $11) to join an organization of fellow ticketless travelers. Then, if you do get caught traveling without a ticket, you pay the fine to the authorities and then turn in your receipt to the ticketless-traveler organization — which refunds you 100% of the fine.

Don’t you wish that everyone in society was as creative as the cheaters?

But, more important: wouldn’t there seem to be a big financial upside in investing in enough ticket-takers to make sure that the train system actually makes everyone pay? If I ran a swift little private-equity firm, I’d think about taking over the Mumbia train system, pronto.