Whenever the inspectors swagger onto a train, I can pick who’s most likely not to have a valid ticket.

Whenever the inspectors swagger onto a train, I can pick who’s most likely not to have a valid ticket.

Yesterday in Perth I was accosted by a comically bright super-sized character of indeterminate sex, questionable body odour and garish tribal tattoos down its wide, flabby arms.

The gang of large fluorescent teletubbies demanded to see my train ticket as if I’d already committed a crime.

Being a transit officer must be a tough job.

So I handed over my Myki card, no Go card, oops wrong state, Opal card - I didn’t have my Perth Smartrider on me.

I was asked how I got past the barriers to begin with - a very astute question.

What had happened was, I explained, I had walked through the barrier at the exact same time as a gentleman coming the other way.

The barriers had opened, nobody was sure who’d scanned what, so we both pressed forward. As we were both gentlemen, we passed back to back, and bum to bum. Every gentleman knows to save the front for the ladies.

It didn’t get me out of the $100 fine, which was fair enough. I’ve been keeping a tally of all the public transport I’ve stolen, and am still $774 in front. Which is ridiculous for someone that isn’t that organised, or devious, and usually rides a bike.

The thing is, I was spoken to as if I was a suspect in a much larger crime.

The vast majority of transit officers I’ve met have been courteous, friendly and go about their jobs in a wonderful way.

However to stop people writing stuff like this, they need to stop being such jerks about it.

The entire asking for tickets part of a transit officer’s job is a waste of time. Whenever the inspectors swagger onto a train, I can pick who’s most likely not to have a valid ticket.

Worst of all, I’m usually right.

It’s the poorest, most vulnerable and downtrodden. People who are also least likely to be able to afford it. People who are probably only an application form and short training course away from being transit officers themselves.

With all the fines and transit officers, are we saying as a society that anyone who can’t afford to travel shouldn’t be allowed to?

Public transport should be free, and the cost shared proportionally by everyone in this country, based on how much tax they pay, not how much they use it, otherwise it’s not ‘public’ transport at all.

Right now it’s a system that might be public owned, but it's run as if it's a ‘private’ company, using a ‘private’ police force, with costs more akin to a business for making money, not a service for the public. Making it ‘private’ transport, and that’s exactly what it should be called.

Xavier Toby's debut non-fiction book, ‘Mining My Own Business’ is available now.

Xavier
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