Revenue Protection or Absurdity?

Melbourne’s public transport system can be a dangerous place. And I’m not talking about being beaten up for making eye contact with the wrong thug. I’m talking about your choice of ticket and the possible ramifications of making extra donations to the state government coffers. The thugs in Melbourne aren’t really that bad.

Ticket inspectors in Melbourne don’t have a very good reputation. This is a bit harsh because they generally do a good job at protecting the revenue of the transport system. But do they occasionally get too picky? Check this out.

It was a Sunday. The dreaded Ticket Gestapo get on the train. Usual stuff, got my ticket out, showed them, as did everyone else. No problem. But as usual there was one passenger who invited special attention. Naturally from a distance I stuck my ear in to see how creative his excuse was. He didn’t look like your typical unemployed bogan who took a punt with an expired ticket or none at all. He even looked like he had a job. And his logic was sound.

Apparently the inspectors were giving him a strict talking-to because he had the wrong ticket. It’s not that he hadn’t paid his fare. He did. Just not the right fare. Being a Sunday he wanted to buy a Sunday Saver ticket. Great idea. However you can’t buy them from the vending machines. You have to buy them over the counter at a manned station or one of the inconveniently located convenience stores that sell them.

So, not being at a manned station and with no convenience store within sight, he thought it was fair to purchase a concession ticket which costs more than a Sunday Saver. After all, he paid more than he needed to use the public transport for the day. It’s not like he was fare-evading or stealing.

Oh no! You can’t do that if you don’t have a concession card! You’re not entitled to a concession ticket. You have to buy a full fare.

But he paid more than the price of a Sunday Saver to which he was entitled. He wasn’t even asking for change! He couldn’t get a Sunday Saver because the facilities provided by the government with which to purchase one were lacking.

No. It’s the wrong ticket. You must have the correct ticket that you are entitle to. If you buy a concession ticket you must have a valid concession card to prove you are allowed to buy the concession ticket.

Surely the bottom line is that he paid enough money to cover the trip regardless which ticket he bought?

Apparently not. Absurdity at its best. Is the job of ticket inspectors to protect revenue or to make sure the ticket type matches what the passenger is allowed to buy? Obviously in this case no revenue was lost, except if you count the precious minutes wasted by the inspectors in arguing the point. speaking of which, I believe common sense prevailed and the man was not fined. Or maybe that was wishful thinking on my part. I really can’t sure but I’d like to think that.

Either way I still shake my head in amazement.

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