Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How Romania Does Public Transport

Trams are one of the main forms of public transport in Iasi. Most of them are from 1960s Germany, so consequently all the writing on the inside is in German. Which is all well and good if you read German, but unfortunately I don't so much read German. Unlike the one pictured, many of the trams have advertisements on the sides, as with buses in America. This one is quite modern looking compared to many of them, but for some reason I just liked this one and snapped a photo.

What I actually really enjoy is the ticket system for the trams. Tickets cost 1.2 lei (basically 30 cents), and you can buy them individually or in a packet of 10. They are thin little strips of paper (as above), and you insert them into a hole at the bottom of the stamper (as above) and then push down on the top of the stamper, thereby punching a hole in your ticket and stamping the date on it. This cracks me up to no end because half of the time the stamp doesn't work so well and the date/time is entirely illegible. So when the transit police come around doing random checks of tickets, I actually have no idea how they can tell whether my ticket stamp is legitimate or I'm lying. I don't care to cheat the system, let along about something that costs 30 cents, so it's not an issue, but just for arguments sake... One of the many things about Romania that is lost on me.

The trams are great because they are a cheaper than taxis (which aren't all that expensive anyhow) and they go to many important places, most notably the post office where international packages are delivered and the Carrefour (basically like Wal-Mart). Very. Important. And much as with the subway in NYC, the trams provide a great medium through which to view a cross-section of the city.  And yes, even in Romania people come onto public transport to beg for money. Some things are universal. Illegible ticket stampers aside, I kind of secretly *heart* the Romanian trams.

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