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.
Poster in downtown #Toronto.— theleftchapter (@theleftchapter) November 25, 2019
The fight for Free Transit is growing. It is a fundamental fight for social and environmental justice
See: The "fare evasion" narrative on the #TTC is a total fraud. Here's why https://t.co/QEoTeThbDV #TOpoli #onpoli pic.twitter.com/oeZmzSkAUx
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.
I find it frustrating that in a city with such expensive & disfunctional public transit that the city of Ottawa still deploys fare control agents to pressure riders to take their fare out as quick as possible and kick off other riders. Public transit should be free. #ottnews pic.twitter.com/uCoWocSiYR— Omar (@OhmsB) January 30, 2020
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.
This morning I witnessed Edmonton transit cops hauling people off of trains and ticketing them for not having money.— Conrad Nobert (@conradnobert) January 28, 2020
It was an exercise in humiliation. Indigenous people (it seemed) bore the brunt.
I felt a sense of outrage at how our system treats its most vulnerable people. pic.twitter.com/2lG0315yJp
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.
After "fare inspector" and police attack on black kid on TTC, this happens in Edmonton. https://t.co/nP2q3Hj7hB We have choice: free transit or transit cops: https://t.co/P93kBfYu2s #canlab #cdnpoli #racism— RankandFile.ca (@rankandfileca) February 25, 2018
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.
#TTC Student ID = $200.00?!— Vote D!ONNE Renée On Election Day!📣 (@OnElectionDay) November 26, 2018
The ID ‘request’, suggests a Student fare WAS paid, but they couldn’t find their ‘ID’. FYI, a Student ID costs $7.00.
Each Fare Inspector costs Toronto approx $100,000
Court time for this matter approx $400,000
Cost to Toronto $500,000+#farefreeTTC
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.
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