When Pauline Tantost was kicked off a Montreal city bus last week for not paying her fare with exact change, she was shocked. And then a transit inspector handed her a ticket with a $219 fine for not paying her fare.
With her two-year-old son, Xavier, in her arms, she had boarded the 108 Bannantyne bus home to Verdun around 10 p.m. after having spent five hours at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. She boarded the vehicle near Atwater Avenue and Ste-Catherine Street West.
She searched through her purse for $3 in change for the fare, but only came up with a $5 bill. She said she offered it to the driver, who refused because the fare machine doesn’t accept bills.
He warned her that failure to pay a fare could be bad news if the bus was to get inspected. Then the bus took off with Tantost and her son on board, while she clutched the $5 in her hand.
Two inspectors boarded the bus in Verdun at Bannantyne Street and Fourth Avenue, several stops before Tantost’s home. An employee of the STM later told her that it was purely a coincidence that the bus was inspected.
“I find that suspicious,” Tantost said.
A passenger on the bus, Darlene Cousins-Larsen, said one inspector entered the bus by the front door while another boarded through the back.
“They went right to the woman who was sitting behind the bus driver with the child. She had to get off the bus,” Cousins-Larsen said.
She said another woman on the bus with an invalid ticket was given a warning.
Cousins-Larsen approached the bus driver and offered to pay the woman’s fare, but was shrugged off by the driver and inspectors.
“He said, ‘No no, it's OK, it's free.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, OK, they were just giving her a warning,’” she said.
Instead, Tantost was handed a $219 fine for not paying her fare.
Embarrassed, she got off the bus with her son and stood on the sidewalk in tears. She walked the rest of the way home.
“I think they showed a lack of humanity and a lack of kindness,” she said.
Tantost said she told the inspectors she would contest the fine, words that according to her were met with a laugh and a comment about how the only benefit of that would be the overtime the STM employee treating the file would earn.
The STM declined to comment.
So basically, if you can't pay with pocket change, you can't get on the bus. Whereas most functioning buses in this country accept cash and change. How old are these buses? Like really. Do you think it was pure coincidence that those inspectors came on the bus and ended up fining her? Do you think it was acceptable to give her a ticket on her first offence? Was it more than odd that the bus driver couldn't accept cash even though a large majority of people these days carry cash and not change as to not weigh themselves down? Discuss!
That is utterly ridiculous. It'd have been one thing if she didn't have the money at all (which still isn't grounds for such a ridiculous fine), but she did have the cash. I can be convinced into thinking that the inspectors were a coincidence, but given the fact that they allegedly walked right up to the women, I highly doubt that.
I'm basically gonna agree with what Nick implied. Some things people do are extremely stupid. Poor lady, I feel really sorry for her. Is there anything she could do, like appeal?
I've been in her situation countless times. In Melbourne we have a public transport fare system in place called Myki. You buy a card the size of a credit card, and you "top up" the myki card by pre-paying money for fares and must "touch on" on the myki station on the bus/tram/whatever.
Half the time if you're catching a tram or a bus, there is nowhere for you to top up unless you want to go into town or to a train station.
I have been given two fines (paid none) because I got on a tram at a stop where I couldn't top up, and by the time I had been declined my fare for not having enough, the tram had moved off and the inspectors had not given me any time to get off.
It's all crap and everything should be free forever.