ttc fare inspector

Transit riders across Canada have had enough of fare inspectors

Transit inspectors are up there with parking enforcement officers on the list of figures people seem to hate the most.

There's nothing that'll ruin your day quite like getting slammed with a $60 parking ticket as you're standing there about to move your car, or worse, a $425 transit fine for having an invalid transfer.

There has long been the argument that public transit should be free for all for the sake of the community and the environment, but there is the issue of where exactly the money would come from when most systems are already tragically underfunded.

Though fare evasion does cost cities in the end, many feel that hiring transit officers for nearly $100,000 per year each isn't exactly the best allocation of strapped funds, either.

Fixing malfunctioning fare systems, for example, would probably be a better place to start if transit commissions were looking to save money.

Many transit authorities across the country have implemented proof-of-payment systems and enforcement officers in recent years, and there have been countless anecdotal reports of inspectors being overtly rude, bullying and humiliating commuters and otherwise overstepping their bounds.

Many cite that the homeless and other vulnerable groups — those perhaps most likely to be unable to pay their fare — are often targeted and mistreated.

There have also been cases where transitgoers feel that the officers are just plain unreasonable when fining, especially given the known issues with new contactless fare technology.

Just this month, there was uproar after one Toronto resident was fined $240 by an fare inspector because her Presto card malfunctioned despite being recently loaded with more than enough money.

In Vancouver, there are horror stories of citizens being kicked off of transit with no money or way of getting home, and in Montreal, public transit officers have been investigated by police for undue use of force on commuters.

There was also the ridiculous case of one Quebec woman who was fined by the Société de transport de Montréal for not holding a handrail at a subway station.

Residents in places like Toronto, Chile and New York have protested transit systems' crackdowns on fare evasion, often by jumping turnstiles en masse as a public demonstration.

Still, fares continue to rise, dozens of officers continue to be employed inspecting millions of transit fares and evaders continue to be persecuted and prosecuted.

Though there have been times that cities have reconsidered their funding of fare enforcement, for the time being, it seems like for better or for worse, they're here to stay.

Lead photo by

Stephen Spence

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