Passengers on bus leaving Switzerland forced to chip in to pay customs fine

Passengers on bus leaving Switzerland forced to chip in to pay customs fine

While long-distance bus journeys certainly have a reputation of being the most delayed and least comfortable - but at least the cheapest - of the public transport services you can buy, you certainly don’t expect to pay a fine for the driver in order to reach your destination. This was exactly the case for one bus service between Geneva and Grenoble, when passengers had to pitch in order to pay the cost of exporting the vehicle from Switzerland.

Bus service between Geneva and Grenoble stopped at border

According to a professor at a Swiss university, who was on the bus at the time, the BlaBlaBus service on March 20 was meant to leave Geneva at 2.25pm and arrive in the French city of Grenoble at around 5pm. Sadly, the bus service was soon “blocked at the Thônex-Vallard border". The reason? The driver had failed to pay the correct vehicle taxes required to cross.

Swiss police demanded that the driver pay 25 francs for the tax and a 100-franc fine for not paying in advance. The bus was not allowed to continue its journey into France until the fine was paid, as the vehicle was not registered in Switzerland and the Federal Office of Customs and Border Security is not able to send fines abroad.

Passengers forced to pay 125-Swiss-franc fine for bus driver

Sadly, the professor told 20 Minuten that neither BlaBlaCar nor Dibiasi, the two companies that chartered the bus, wanted to pay the fine. The driver was seen shouting at his employers through his mobile phone as he did not have the funds to pay.

Luckily for him, the passengers soon stepped in. “We were between 25 and 30, some had no money at all. We started with 5 euros each, but that wasn't enough," the professor noted. Soon, "A traveller put 25 euros in the envelope. The driver was sorry" and used the money to pay for the fine. The bus was able to get going at around 4p,, arriving in Grenoble late at 7.20pm.

BlaBlaCar apologies and gives passengers a full refund

Speaking to 20 Minuten, BlaBlaCar said the situation was caused by “an error”: the tax should have been paid by the company that owns the bus, who would then be reimbursed later. The international company said that all the passengers on the bus have received full refunds and will be given compensation for any further costs incurred.

Thumb image: / Kannan Datchanamoorthy

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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