Police called after teen told to 'pay or get off bus'
A GOLDEN Beach couple has criticised a "stubborn" bus driver for dragging out a passenger's fare dispute for more than 30 minutes until police arrived.
TAFE student Angela Descovic labelled Sunbus policy "unfair" after she and her partner were caught up in the long delay on Monday.
The 20-year-old student was riding the 609 bus when she noticed a teen trying to board without enough money on his Go Card for the fare.
She said the boy had tried to explain to the driver that he had no money to top up his card and would repay the fare when he arrived at his stop.
Ms Descovic said the driver told the teen to "pay or get off", despite him offering what she felt was a fair explanation.
Sunbus, which owns the 609 bus, states in its policy that passengers must have a valid paper ticket or Go Card to board public transport or they could face an on-the-spot fine of $227 for fare evasion.
Ms Descovic said she had watched on as the teen refused to leave the bus and the dispute unfolded.
She said she had offered to pay the boy's fare so the bus could start moving again, but the driver had refused, instead calling the police after his superiors' instruction.
The couple thought the bus driver could have handled the situation better and avoided calling the police and delaying the ride for all onboard.
"He said he had to call the police because the boy wouldn't get off the bus," Ms Descovic said.
"It was ridiculous. We've all got places to go.
"I understand everyone has to pay but it was unfair to get the police involved.
"I asked the driver what he would do if an elderly woman had no money on their Go Card. He told me he would let her on."
Ms Descovic said that when she questioned the driver about the dispute, they were told the teen had "attitude". But the pair disagreed.
A Sunbus spokesman told the Daily the driver had done the right thing by asking the teen to pay or leave the bus.
"It's an offence for a customer to not comply with a bus driver's reasonable direction, in this case being asked to leave the bus due to fare evasion," the spokesman said.
Despite the couple's criticism of the policy, the spokesman said the driver had followed procedure by contacting the depot which then asked him to call police.
He said the company was committed to cracking down on fare evasion.