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A run-in with ticket inspectors that led to a passenger with a paid ticket being fined because a tram’s validation machines didn’t work was "ridiculous", according to a public transport advocate.
Muru Gappan was handed a $172 fine by tram ticket inspectors in September because he had been unable to validate his pre-paid multi-trip ticket.
Public Transport Users Association Daniel Bowen called for a review of rules for fining passengers.
‘‘It’s just a ridiculous situation, where the authorities are obviously blaming the customer for the shortcoming of their own equipment,’’ he told radio 3AW.
‘‘This passenger did everything right, he bought the ticket in advance, he tried to use it, he tried multiple validators, found them not working, it’s just totally unreasonable to expect him to do more and then to fine him, it’s totally ludicrous.’’
Mr Gappan, an IT worker, boarded a tram in Glen Huntly and tried two validators but both did not work.
Soon after, ticket inspectors boarded and demanded to see his ticket. Mr Gappan explained that the machines had failed.
Asked why he had not then bought a ticket on board, Mr Gappan said his ticket should have worked, and that his only cash was notes [tram ticket machines take only coins].
The inspectors, who Mr Gappan said told him he should have asked other passengers for change, took his ticket. He hasn’t got it back, but he does have a $172 infringement notice. He has until next Friday to pay, but says he won’t.
’’The public transport system in Melbourne puts the blame entirely on the passenger, who is deemed guilty until proven innocent,’’ Mr Gappan said.
Mr Bowen said the inspectors could have checked if the validators were working but ultimately the Transport Act needed to be overhauled.
‘‘I’d argue that that rule needs to be changed, it’s not something that’s logical, it’s not something that’s reasonable,’’ he said.
‘‘You can’t expect passengers to know that and to fine people for doing the right thing, or trying their best to pay for their
ride, it’s just crazy.’’
Mr Gappan has written to Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky, her department and transport marketing agency Metlink.
A Metlink officer told him he should have taken ’’all reasonable steps’’ to ensure he had a valid ticket. This meant buying a new ticket or getting off.
’’A customer may decide to purchase a Metcard from the automated ticketing machine on board the tram, or if that option is not viable the customer should exit the tram,’’ the officer said in an email.
Metlink head Bernie Carolan said the response to Mr Gappan would be reviewed.
’’If a person attempts to validate their ticket, and there is evidence of faulty equipment or the like, I would normally suggest they should be entitled to continue their journey,’’ he said.
Mr Bowen pointed to a 2006 Metlink campaign titled ’’BATBYGOBSTOPL’’ - an acronym for ’’Buying A Ticket Before You Get On Board Saves Time Or Problems Later’’.
’’This case shows it simply isn’t true,’’ he said.
with Mex Cooper
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