KELLY ROCHE, JON WILLING
OC Transpo fare inspectors will wear identification and carry pens for passengers, Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans, chair of the transit commission said Monday.
The city was quick to respond after the Sun published a story about 221 complaints filed against fare inspectors detailing hostile, threatening behaviour.
“You put it in perspective that over the last five-year period we’ve carried about 500 million customers during that period and the total number of complaints is about 220, so in terms of the percentage it’s quite a low percentage,” said Deans, who received a debriefing from Transpo GM John Manconi on the fare inspection program.
“Having said that, we don’t diminish that there were 200 complaints and we are listening to those complaints.”
Providing pens will allow passengers to fill out photo ID numbers on their passes to avoid being fined $150 for failing to provide proof of payment.
Transpo is trying to decide what to do about fare inspections when the crosstown LRT line opens in 2018.
Managers are looking into fare control systems, such as gates, that might reduce the dependence on inspectors.
Fare inspectors have one of the hardest jobs in the transit department, said bus union president Craig Watson.
“It’s tough. They walk on the bus and you can hear people — and they’re not even near them — say ‘here comes the fare pigs’,” said Watson.
“They’re doing their job. It’s an important job to be done because you have to collect the fare. Revenue is important for providing the good service we provide. Their job, I would never want because (of) the way they are not respected to the extent they should be…”
Improving customer service is on Manconi’s list of priorities.
But if you want a reply from the city, you’ll have to ask.
A passenger was berated by an inspector on a Dec. 6, 2011 ride on Route 95 for not writing the ID number on the back of the bus pass.
The rider wrote in that day, and two days later sent another note rehashing the story, stating there was no response to the previous e-mail.
A Transpo customer relations employee replied the next day.
“We did receive your original complaint against the fare enforcement officer, however you did not indicate that you wanted a (response),” he wrote.