Casual bus rider to fight city hall over ticket

A $150-ticket was Colin Gardner’s reward for deciding to take the bus downtown.

“I was going to be there for a while so I figured I didn’t need a transfer, so I didn’t pick one up after I deposited the two tickets,” he said.

A transfer is required as proof of payment when cash or tickets are used.

Gardner said he encountered fare inspectors Dec. 6, explaining he isn’t a regular rider and didn’t know the rules.

“I tried to ask ‘where do I appeal’ and she said, ‘find out yourself.’

“She didn’t even spell my name correctly on the ticket, so are these people actually adequate at their professions?”

Gardner said he lodged a complaint with the city.

In Monday’s Sun, a story reporting 221 complaints filed against fare inspectors detailed abusive, boorish behaviour and inadequate customer service.

But passengers aren’t angels.

Their complaints were laced with insults, calling fare inspectors Robocop, security guard, rent-a-cop, and Nazi, among other terms.

“And the reason why they’re doing that, they’re putting the individual down, it’s called a downward social comparison, ’cause they’re trying to sort of reduce the power that this person has by disparaging them,” said University of Ottawa psychology professor Tracy Vaillancourt.

Aggression against authority exists because people personalize the encounter, she said.

“I think it has to do with entitlement, so the people who are being asked to produce documentation … it’s almost like they’re taken aback by the idea that somebody would even suggest that they’re not honest — without recognizing that it’s the person’s job,” said Vaillancourt, also a bullying expert.

“But then there’s also the power-corrupt part, and there is evidence that when people are put in a position of authority over others, a lot of times they do abuse their power, so there probably is a grain of truth that maybe not all of these people who are asking for this documentation are always as polite as can be.”

Regardless, name-calling protects the ego, and being offended, Vaillancourt said, doesn’t reflect well on society.

“These people are hired to do this,” she said.

“Now we don’t know what cheaters look like, so it’s not like they can legally profile.”

Considering the city is trying to woo drivers out of their cars, Gardner, a west end resident, said he’s pleading guilty and is hoping for a reduced fine.

“… If I don’t, it would certainly deter me from ever taking the bus again,” he said.

Twitter: @ottawasunkroche

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