The Citizen's Hugh Adami has yet another column about a ridiculous case of zero-tolerance OC Transpo fare rules. The page doesn't have a comment section, so I'm posting my comments here.
In this case, Sean Nagasar, an Algonquin College student with dyslexia and another condition that makes it very difficult to write, didn't have the numbers filled in on his transit pass, which he bought on Saturday. He did not have an opportunity to get a friend to fill it out for him before Monday morning (March 1st), when he first used it.
You have to fill in the numbers on your pass with the numbers on your photo ID card because the passes are non-transferable. The article says it's been required to fill in the numbers since 2007, but I stopped riding the bus a couple years before that and I ran into a similar situation with the fare inspectors.
Actually, in my years-old case, it was the second of the month and I didn't have my new pass yet (not like any of the four drivers who saw my pass on the first of the month were bothered to mention it). Seeing the two previous months' passes stuffed in my holder, the fare inspector let me off with a warning. I think he even got the driver to give me a daypass so I could get to school and then to a place to buy a pass.
And you know why he let me off? Because these rules are designed to stop people from cheating the system, not to require them to pass stupid little trials. The fare inspector in my case had the common sense to realize that, in the middle of the school year, since I had the previous two months' passes, chances are I would be buying the current month's pass. Maybe in 2007 OC Transpo management revoked fare inspectors' ability to use common sense.
If Nagasar fights his ticket in court, the fare inspector could easily testify that the student had not filled in the numbers on his pass. But he'd have a hell of a hard time arguing that he suspected Nagasar was trying to cheat the system--the problem this technical rule aims to solve. For fuck's sake, he doesn't even have the dexterity to write, much less swap out bus passes with his buddies.
Alex Cullen, Chair of the City's Transit Committee, tells the Citizen, "...supporting our fare inspectors doing their job will make me look as insensitive as you have portrayed them, and taking the side of the student undermines their work on behalf of taxpayers. It’s a lose-lose situation."
Well, Cullen's lost it indeed. Fare inspectors' "work on behalf of taxpayers" is to catch people who abuse the fare system, not to waste their salaries ticketing disabled students (and testifying against them in court) for not being able to write.