Letters writers debate whether drivers should risk delaying tight schedules or run-ins with belligerent riders to ensure transit users pay their fares.

Maker riders pay – or not?

Letter writers debate how drivers should react to non-paying riders.

Re: “Too many free bus rides,” Letters, The Leader.

Letter writer Mr. Mohammed Sahib is entitled to his opinion, as any of us are, however I do feel it necessary to correct him on some misleading information.

He is correct in his view that cracking down on fare evasion would contribute to reducing a transit funding shortage and that many of our members are assaulted every year usually over fare-related issues. The rest of his opinion is not as accurate.

Mainly, it is not an operator’s job to enforce that a fare be paid. Coast Mountain Bus Company’s policy, due in part to assaults against our members, is for operators to report fare evasion incidents. Operators are not to enforce fares; we are only to inform passengers what the fare rate would be for their age and destination.

There was also pressure from the passengers that had paid their fare and were upset that they were being delayed until the proper authorities arrived to remove the fare evader.

The other problem with Mr.Sahib’s opinion is his assertion that Transit operators don’t think it is important that people pay for transit. I can tell any reader without hesitation that next to a lack of running time, fare evasion is the single biggest pet peeve of our members. That is why most members try to do something else, like read the paper, so we do not have to deal with the frustration of dealing with yet another fare evader.

The drivers that leave the door open to get a cup of coffee or go to the washroom are doing so usually to try to accommodate passengers. This benefits the operator and the passenger; it gets the driver out of the seat for a short break, while allowing passengers to get out of the elements and the coach to leave – hopefully on time.

 

Gavin Davies

Vice-president, CAW 111

 

Make users pay

 

Re: “Transit ridership soars – TransLink can’t expand to keep pace without more cash” (The Leader, Aug. 25) and “Too many free bus rides,” by letter writer Mohammed Sahib.

Sahib is right on the money. I have seen it with my own eyes, on a few occasions, while riding the bus.

Most transit users pay – others don’t, and some bus drivers don’t really care, one way or the other.

It is easier for TransLink to pick the pockets of motorists and homeowners than make users pay. That is why there is little money for the Evergreen Line.

 

Fred Perry

Surrey

 

Drivers could make more effort asking for fares

 

Over the last few weeks I’ve been reading the responses to my letter about bus drivers, most of which have been mildly amusing if not condescending. I must admit, I did not expect to enrage so many people for having the audacity to suggest that drivers should ask riders to pay for the services they use.

My letter did not question whether the drivers are caring and kindly, it questioned the wisdom of helping run a business without asking customers to pay for receiving services.

Here’s one example of successfully dealing with fare evaders that I have witnessed many times. An individual gets on the bus and asks to ride for free and, in response, the driver says, “no.” The fare evader steps off the bus and that’s the end of it.

If a fare evader behaves belligerently, the driver wisely avoids confrontation, allows them on or, in some cases that I have witnessed, gets on his radio and calls for help. The driver doesn’t need to get into a fist fight with fare evaders or other difficult passengers.

What’s more, doing what is expected of you, such as getting people from point A to point B, doesn’t mean drivers shouldn’t care if the system loses money to fare evaders.

There is an older, grey-haired driver who I’ve seen many times in Surrey. He makes sure that each person who gets on his bus has a valid transfer before they get on and he doesn’t give a damn who they are. He will wait as long as it takes for a person to cough up the fare or get off. He doesn’t get aggressive, he simply stands his ground.

I always feel proud of that driver and I’m even tempted to go give him a high five. In fact, over the years I’ve seen many drivers just like him and I’m always proud of them.

I did not write my original letter to take cheap shots at drivers, I know you all have a difficult job and the vast majority of you are friendly and hard-working. Many assaults are reported each year and many more go unreported.

I still have a memory of a driver saying, “whatever, I don’t care” to a teen girl (the driver was hardly in danger of getting beaten up). I still think some bus drivers could make a little more effort in using their judgement to ask people to pay their fares.

 

Mohammed Sahib

Surrey North Delta Leader

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