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Woman Fined $219 for Not Paying Bus Fare With Exact Change

Offbeat  (tags: bizarre, children, ethics, humans, petty bureaucrats, fine, ticket, hospital, exact change, bus, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, CBC News )

- 2173 days ago -
A woman with her two year old child is fined $219 for not having exact change for her fare after spending 5 hours at the hospital with her son. She was tired and did not have exact change offering five dollars but still was fined and forced to walk home.


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DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 12:32 pm

When Pauline Tantost was kicked off a Montreal city bus last week for not paying her fare with exact change, she was shocked. And then a transit inspector handed her a ticket with a $219 fine for not paying her fare.

With her two-year-old son, Xavier, in her arms, she had boarded the 108 Bannantyne bus home to Verdun around 10 p.m. after having spent five hours at the Montreal Children’s Hospital. She boarded the vehicle near Atwater Avenue and Ste-Catherine Street West.

She searched through her purse for $3 in change for the fare, but only came up with a $5 bill. She said she offered it to the driver, who refused because the fare machine doesn’t accept bills.

He warned her that failure to pay a fare could be bad news if the bus was to get inspected. Then the bus took off with Tantost and her son on board, while she clutched the $5 in her hand.

Two inspectors boarded the bus in Verdun at Bannantyne Street and Fourth Avenue, several stops before Tantost’s home. An employee of the STM later told her that it was purely a coincidence that the bus was inspected.

“I find that suspicious,” Tantost said.

A passenger on the bus, Darlene Cousins-Larsen, said one inspector entered the bus by the front door while got on through the back.

“They went right to the woman who was sitting behind the bus driver with the child. She had to get off the bus,” Cousins-Larsen said.

She said another woman on the bus with an invalid ticket was given a warning.

Cousins-Larsen approached the bus driver and offered to pay the woman’s fare, but was shrugged off by the driver and inspectors.

“He said, ‘No no, it's OK, it's free.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, OK, they were just giving her a warning,’” she said.

Instead, Tantost was handed a $219 fine for not paying her fare.

Embarrassed, she got off the bus with her son and stood on the sidewalk in tears. She walked the rest of the way home.

“I think they showed a lack of humanity and a lack of kindness,” she said.

Tantost said she told the inspectors she would contest the fine, words that according to her were met with a laugh and a comment about how the only benefit of that would be the overtime the STM employee treating the file would earn.

The STM declined to comment.

Sheryl G (359)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 1:01 pm
Leave the Montreal Transit a few words.....I did.
How to Contact Montreal Transit

This is part and parcel with the Corporate mentality that is inflicted upon all of us. That one penny should not find it's way to the OverLords, be they the State or Private is a mortal sin now. It use to be, we as a society would have some compassion and try to help another in distress. She had the money, just not exact change. She was offered help by another but they were misled. It was almost as if every other one who caused this to go in such a negative way got some kind of sick joy out of seeing a woman with a child suffer needlessly.

Whether you are in Canada or the USA Stand up to this Heartless Mentality. Join with other on November 5th.
Relight The Flame of Protest

Aurea Aurea Walker (226)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 1:07 pm
I truly DO NOT BELIEVE the "inspectors" randomly boarded the bus at 10:00 PM. The driver is an unmitigated piece of SHIT! So are the arseholes called inspectors. Mom and son got off the bus and got home safely is wonderful news, what if something had happened to them? That someone offered to pay for her fare gives me a small glimmer of hope that all is not hopeless, just damn near though. All over a 3.00 Canadian dollar fare. I fervently hope that whoever handles her case has a bit of empathy and decency. The cancelling of the fine is a no brainer, she was not trying to "steal" a free ride, she did not have the change, big difference! empathy and dencency are two qualities that seem to be in very short supply now days. Greed, avarice and corruption are on high over drive.

Lona G (66)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 1:26 pm
And there was me thinking this only happened in America :-{

Monica T (278)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 1:30 pm
This is just unacceptable and unfair.
I sent a letter to the STM using Dandelion's link above. Thanks so much Dale for the article and Dandelion for the link...

Connie O (45)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 2:17 pm
How disgusting is that. To have her walk home with a toddler late at night, and possibly be in an unsafe situation doing that. And for the driver to turn down the offer someone else made of paying her fare. I am sure if the driver had asked, there may have been someone on the bus that could have made change for her.

Judie B (61)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 2:21 pm
Where's the petition addressed to the bus company? I'll sign it!!

As this news spreads around the globe, the bus company may want to rethink their insensitive and ruthless policies toward their customers, who are trying to do the right thing. She offered to overpay, and was refused. Someone else offered to pay for her, and was refused. This is NOT customer service, this unnecessarily singling out ONE customer and punishing them for no good reason! I can only hope this news seriously hurts the bus company in reduced fares and customers. At the very least, they need to drop the fine and apologize to this woman.

Michael O (176)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 2:32 pm
This happened just a 5-minute drive from where I live here in Montreal, and I am so utterly disgusted and ashamed of this abhorrent behaviour by our public transit employees.

Noted and recommended. Thanks Dale!

Pamela W (75)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 3:05 pm
Noted !! This is just so DISGUSTING !!! Ir's not as if she couldn't/wouldn't/didn't want to ... pay - she was even prepared to pay extra (not asking for change) and another passenger offered to help her, and was prevented. Who kicks a mother and child off a bus at that time of night anyway ??? Hope she gets this fine cancelled and has the possibility of sueing the company !!! Anything could have happened to her and her child during the walk - it doesn't bear imagining !!!!!

Pat B (354)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 3:10 pm
OMG, how ridiculous, but also,very cruel.!!! I wrote to Transit, (Thanks, Sheryl, for the link). Hope that Ms.Tantost get this kicked out, and she doesn't have to pay the fine. (That's a lot of money!!!)
Thank you, Dale for this.

Liliana Garcia (204)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 3:30 pm
"Tantost said she told the inspectors she would contest the fine, words that according to her were met with a laugh and a comment about how the only benefit of that would be the overtime the STM employee treating the file would earn."(End of Quote) Maybe that's the reason they gave her the fine, so one of their chums would get extra pay. Sorry to say this, but some people in Canada has lost a sense of justice and their priorities seem to be geared toward callousness and class bigotry against the working class. What a shame!

Liliana Garcia (204)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 3:36 pm
Correcting grammar: "Sorry to say this, but some people in Canada have lost a sense of justice..."
By the way: Are there any grass root movements over there who could provide support to mothers in cases like this? What about a petition?

Lynn Squance (235)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 4:23 pm
This is absolutely asinine! A mother left at 22 hr blocks from her stop with a sick 2 yr old in her arms.

In my mind, this was no coincidence and clearly targeted Tantost despite protestations to the contrary from STM employees.

Part of me wonders if the STM employees were English first language. Certainly they would have to speak French to work, but . . .

I hope that Tantost is successful in having this over turned!

Sent a letter. Thanks Sheryl.

Eternal Gardener (734)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 4:32 pm
Our overly mechanised world leaves no room for anything else than efficiency and swiftness, it simply leaves no time for compassion or emotion... because it doesn't serve our master's pockets....SAD!

DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 5:35 pm
Thank you Dandelion G for the link to the Montreal Transit company!

This incident is quite shocking as several have already mentioned here that the offer by Pauline Tantost to over pay by two dollars was rejected. It is even more shocking when as others here also mentioned in their comments that when another passenger offered to pay the fare in exact change that this was rejected as well. Why is money from another not accepted as the fare was offered - there is obviously some other motive here.

I don't know if it was a language thing as Lynn Squance wondered but I suspect perhaps more a hatred towards women and a way to humiliate what perhaps some saw as a single mother. (I can see this because perhaps in their mind if she was married she would have been accompanied by her husband).

No one really knows of course but I hope that these people are either sued or fired. I say sued because another passenger offered to pay, so the fare would have been paid for and putting her off the bus in the case was uncalled for cruelty. What if she had been assaulted on the way home for example? The person offering to pay the exact change fare was not coerced and Pauline Tantost had already offered more money than the fare was worth.

What was done is outrageous. Sadly, Lona Goudswaard, there are petty bureaucrats everywhere. Some people with a bit of power become petty little tin plated dictators.

I sent Montreal Transit on my two cents worth (exact change so they can't fine me as well...) on what I though of their cowardly action.

DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 5:39 pm
Sorry, sloppy grammar and spelling above, should have been what I thought ...

Rose Becke (141)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 6:04 pm

Peta Clarke (30)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 6:12 pm
I just amazes me that this is happening. What is happening to the world. I once admired Canada as a country
but is seems to have changed so much. This is all so sad.

Sheila D (194)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 6:53 pm
Also find the whole incident suspicious, especially another person only got a warning.
America's transit systems are not exactly known for niceties either.
And again, the woman and the child are made to suffer...
Noted with disgust. Thank you.

Michael O (176)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 7:49 pm
I can say from experience that the vast majority of the employees of the STM speak French as a first language. I cannot say with certainty if Ms. Tantost is a francophone, but based on her name, I would wager that French is her first language too, so this is likely not a case of linguistic discrimination.

This is just a matter of the bus driver and the inspectors being two-bit jerks, throwing their weight around just because they can. They need to be suspended immediately (without pay) and given some sensitivity training on how to deal with the public. If you skip out on paying your fare that's one thing, but there was clearly no malicious intent on the part of Ms. Tantost. No one deserves a $219 fine for not having exact change.

DaleLovesOttawa O (198)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 8:07 pm
Very True Michael O, this nasty piece of business could happen in any just takes the wrong kind of people being petty and nasty to make the lives of others needlessly difficult. There are some people with a bit of power and they enjoy being bullies.

Karen Bennick (139)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 9:06 pm

This was disgusting! What do you have a quota to meet for giving out fines to mothers with a toddler. Is this a made up story and she is lying?
Do you have signs telling what the exact amount of the fare is and how much the fine will be if it is not paid before a passenger boards?
If I came to Montreal as a tourist, would I be treated the same as this story indicates?
This message has been sent to the transit company.

Vicky P (476)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 9:46 pm
wow, wtf

Robert Hardy (68)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 10:00 pm
This is too stupid for even a comment.

cynthia l (207)
Saturday August 3, 2013, 10:01 pm
what Cold hearted BS. I can see them kicking her off only if she had no fare but she had what she had and others offered to pay also, But a FINE? holy poop the amount is utterly ridiculous.

Kay M (347)
Sunday August 4, 2013, 9:15 am

. (0)
Sunday August 4, 2013, 10:34 am
It has been a few decades since I lived in Montreal but I remember those cameras being at the very front of the bus and one was always trained on the driver/fare machine. They were originally installed for the drivers safety as many late night/early morning attacks on drivers took place.

My guess is that the driver knew he was being watched, he did warn her before driving away. I am appalled that no one on that bus offered to give her change of that $5.00 bill, or give her a ticket, or do a whip round for her fare before she sat down. If they had this would not have happened. Where I live in Canada we are not allowed to pay bus fare with bills either. You may have heard that our bills here are now plastic and they mess up the fare machines. Many fare machines here were broken by the plastic bills. The difference in my community is that someone on the bus will give you change for your bill if you do not have the right change for the fare. I have even seen the drivers here take the passengers name and address and tell them to go into the transit office the next day to pay the outstanding fare. What a difference living in a small town makes.

Exact fare has been required on the Montreal bus system since I first used it in 1976. And yes, the driver yelled at me at the top of his voice about how stupid I was not to know I needed to have the exact fare ready. I informed him that I had arrived on vacation from the UK the day before and not had a chance to read all the rules and regulations of the Montreal transit system yet. He made me get off the bus. What a welcome to Montreal.

Whatever happened, this is a terrible outcome for a woman who had spent 5 hours in the ER with a sick child and eventually had to walk home. The local newspaper report I read said she got off the bus by choice as she was so embarassed and was given the ticket on the sidewalk, then told to show that to the driver of the next bus to prove that she would have to pay the fare as part of the fine. It was 9pm. Luckily not Winter. She then decided to walk home, which took her 20 minutes.

Lynne Buckley (0)
Sunday August 4, 2013, 12:50 pm
Absolutely disgusting. The inspectors and driver should be ashamed of their behaviour.

Theresa R (3)
Sunday August 4, 2013, 2:58 pm
totally disgusting. glad mother and son got home safe, it could have been a different story. they should be ashamed of themselves. sorry about grammer

Theresa R (3)
Sunday August 4, 2013, 3:12 pm
totally disgusting. glad mother and son got home safe, it could have been a different story. they should be ashamed of themselves. sorry about grammer

Carmen S (611)
Sunday August 4, 2013, 4:02 pm
thanks Dale, unbelievable that something like this could happen and that people can be that cruel, absolutely no excuse for that kind of behavior

. (0)
Sunday August 4, 2013, 4:21 pm
That is just unbelievable and ignorant. These people are reprobates and I hope karma comes around very soon.

Amy Fisher (11)
Sunday August 4, 2013, 9:50 pm
I am disgusted by the behavior of the bus company, putting a woman and her sick child at risk all over a 3 dollar fare. This is cruel and heartless behavior.

. (0)
Monday August 5, 2013, 11:21 am
A star to you all.

Carrie B (306)
Monday August 5, 2013, 3:48 pm

SuSanne P (193)
Monday August 5, 2013, 4:08 pm
Thank you Dale. I was so ENRAGED after reading the article I didn't see the link to this thread as it immediately I forwarded- with my 2 cents worth. Dandelion shortly reminded me she had provided a link to contact.
Saturday August 3, 2013, 1:01 pm
Leave the Montreal Transit a few words.....I did.
How to Contact Montreal Transit

I am well aware one gets more attention when respectfully writing, but I didn't have it in me. This was what I wrote...

I just became aware of the "Woman Fined $219 for Not Paying Bus Fare With Exact Change" and am outraged. This is inhumane!

HOW ON EARTH CAN YOU JUSTIFY THIS OBSCENE BEHAVIOR? This woman HAD the money and was willing to get the exact change at her stop.
SHE WAS WILLING TO GIVE THE $5.oo she had in her hand. She was RETURNING FROM HOSPITAL with a child. Do you think I believe it was a coincidence she was FINED out of the blue?

I was born in Newfoundland and have relatives in EVERY province. I have always said Canada was more HUMANE than those here in the States but now I have reservations there is much difference. YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF.

You have a mother, a sister, a wife, or a child. How would you feel if this happened to a Woman in YOUR family?

SuSanne Dawn Plumb

SuSanne P (193)
Monday August 5, 2013, 4:12 pm
Stars to everyone...I am so grateful that mother and child got home SAFELY too, Theresa R! I should have read that before I wrote with such venom.

Sandi C (90)
Monday August 5, 2013, 6:51 pm
noted with anger

Kit B (276)
Monday August 5, 2013, 6:51 pm

I am thoroughly disgusted.

Jim Phillips (3247)
Monday August 5, 2013, 8:14 pm
Note sent to the transit of Montreal to drop charges against Pauline Tantost.

Ty, Dale.

MmAway M (520)
Monday August 5, 2013, 10:26 pm
Thank you SuSanne P for the forward on this! This is sick %#%#! They need to buy her a car or pay for a limo driver to take her wherever she needs to go. This is so careless, especially with a young child. Just can't wrap my mind around this Sick %#%. Yes, there are outstanding petition people out there that should do a petition to get signatures from people, James, Susan V, just to rattle off a couple. Thank you Dande for the link and Yes, this is kept for a letter when I have a clear (!?) head! TU Dale!

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Monday August 5, 2013, 11:50 pm
I really hurt for this young woman who is just trying to get by. WHAT A STUPID LAW.
If somebody will get in contact with this poor soul and start a fund to help her,, I will pitch in.
Please make sure you have a mailing address for those of us without credit cards. Thank you

Kathy Chadwell (354)
Monday August 5, 2013, 11:52 pm
PS, thank you Dale and thank you SuSanne for the forward

Terrie Williams (798)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 12:56 am
Thanks for the link and, no, I was not civil this time.

Harsha Vardhana (56)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 1:50 am
SuSanne and Dale, many thanks for the spread of awareness.

This is a serious issue. All rules are made in the spirit of helping those who need and to regulate the flow of nwork. If a rule goes against the spirit, it is an offense.

divergent r (309)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 6:33 am
the morality of a province can be judged by how they treat people in need
especially women and small children

Abdessalam Diab (145)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 8:32 am
Too sad. Can't find words to describe this behavior. Poor mother.

Michael O (176)
Tuesday August 6, 2013, 7:12 pm
The latest word is that Ms Tantost's fine has been suspended pending an investigation by the STM.

Marvin Rotrand is Vice Chairman of the STM. He is the one that made the rules that led to this incident. His e-mail address is:

Nancy C (806)
Friday August 9, 2013, 4:22 am
Sending note. Link with Dandelion's comment. We need to continue the exposure of inhumane actions. Aren't we all tire of seeing and being treated like the dirt on the ground.
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