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Why are Aarhus buses allowed to refuse cash?

Ritzau/The Local
Ritzau/The Local - [email protected]
Why are Aarhus buses allowed to refuse cash?
Aarhus buses will no longer accept cash from November, an outlier from the rest of the country. File photo: Ernst Van Norde/Ritzau Scanpix

The operator of Aarhus’ city buses has announced that cash payment for fares will no longer be possible on board from November 1st, but businesses are normally obliged to accept cash.

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Ticket machines inside Aarhus city buses will be scrapped from November 1st, meaning it will no longer be possible to pay for fares with cash.

Unlike most other city buses across Denmark, the buses in Aarhus are boarded from the back or middle doors.

This means that, up to now, passengers paying with cash have done this using machines inside the bus, rather than by giving money to the driver like in most other cities.

But the machines will be removed and consigned to the scrapheap on November 1st, so passengers will have to use alternative methods of payment, with cash no longer accepted after that date.

READ ALSO: Aarhus buses to stop accepting cash payment for fares

Denmark’s payment laws usually require businesses to accept cash, and parliament’s ombudsman earlier this year said bus drivers could not even refuse larger notes from paying passengers on the basis that they don’t have enough change.       

So how is Midttrafik, the company that operates the buses in Aarhus, able to remove its payment machines and the only option for using cash on the city’s buses?

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Aarhus Municipality told news wire Ritzau in a comment that the decision, which was made primarily for cost cutting reasons, was legal.

“Our interpretation is that ticket machines are a self-operated service and thereby not covered by the normal rules,” head of economy in the city council’s infrastructure (Teknik & Miljø) section, Michael Johansson, told news wire Ritzau.

Johansson noted that cash payments are also not possible on board the Letbanen light rail in Aarhus.

The Danish Consumer Ombudsman does not comment on individual cases that it is not in the process of assessing.

In general, however, there are some exceptions to the laws that require cash is accepted, according to a lawyer with the authority.

“If you can buy a ticket in a way where a person isn’t involved, like an automatic machine, this will be considered an unstaffed, self-operated service area. An unstaffed, self-operated service area would fall in line with the exemption,” the lawyer, Anette Jin Kristensen, told Ritzau.

For buses this would require that the bus driver solely has the task of driving the bus and neither sells nor checks tickets, she said.

Aarhus’ unusual system of boarding from the back means that bus drivers do not sell tickets or check them unlike other cities including Copenhagen, where tickets can still be purchased from the driver whilst boarding.

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