On Burocratic highway robbery and the utter stupidity of The Man.

Posted by Jeremy Clarke on February 12, 2004 · General

This morning I was given a fine of $205 (two hundred and five dollars), one hundred and fifty for my transgression, fifty-five for processing, by the friendly officers of my local public transit authority, the STM.
Clearly, given the enormous amount of money required by the fine, I must have committed a formidable crime, or, if I did not commit a crime as such I surely in some way caused them a great problem, grievance and financial loss. For them to be willing to charge a student, who’s bi-weekly paycheck rarely totals $300, a two hundred and five dollar fine, he or she would surely have to be the author of some astronomically malevolent transgression against all that is holy, public, and transitory.

my ticket from the metro copsTo clarify the extent of my crime I’d like to outline some other crimes, and their associated fines. (I assume “costs” is the fifty-five dollar processing fee)

-$75 plus costs- Riding a bicycle in a metro station.
-$75 plus costs- Delaying a train’s departure.
-$75 plus costs- Damaging a vehicle or building or defacing it with graffiti.
(Semi-questionable as a $125 fine, but all are either directly destructive, or dangerous for those around you)

-$100 plus costs- Hanging on to the exterior of an STCUM vehicle.
-$100 plus costs- Walking on the tracks in a tunnel.
(Both highly dangerous for the individual, as well as highly condusive to slowing down movement within the system, and as such causative of financial loss for the transit authority)

Taking all these into consideration a fine of one hundred and fifty dollars plus fifty-five dollars in “costs” would unquestionably require an act like say:

-$150 plus costs- Attacking a transit employee or customer.
-$150 plus costs- Theft in a metro station.
-$150 plus costs- Explicit destruction of transit property.

Right?

My crime (as outlined on the STM’s helpful “urban transit myths” page):

-$150 plus costs- Not having the STCUM’s reduced fare ID card when paying a reduced fare.

An eight-dollar bus photo I.D. that proves that you are a student (despite the absolute abundance of student cards from institutions) is the reason that I will have no money for the next two weeks. When approached by the security officers it was not denied that I was in fact a student, nor whether I was an honest to goodness resident of greater Montreal. It was merely ascertained that I not acquired their pass and I was fined accordingly. 150$, in fact, seems to be the maximum fine possible, including straight-out theft of service by not paying fare (jumping the turnstiles). Despite my status as a student, living in Montreal, under the age of 24, who had paid the 31$ for a pass for students, I was clearly in violation of the most sacred code of such institutions: DONT FUCK WITH OUR BUROCRACY. I had skimped on the paper work and am now paying two hundred and five dollars for the privilege.

Posted by Jeremy Clarke on February 12, 2004 · General

5 Comments

  1. Louisa

    well that sucks, and i PROMISE not to say “i told you so”, but, well, you know what i’m thinking…

    also, for the last time, it’s BUREAUCRACY.

    good thing i’m paying you back soon, eh?

    February 12th, 2004 at 10:45 pm

  2. The Man (as imposed by the societe de transport de montreal)

    Mr. Clarke, I am afraid that i must object to this post of yours, as it is completely innapropriate. It is both highly misleading concerning our internal justice system, and slanderous to the fairness of our policy.

    While you make it very clear how “unjustly” you were treated in terms of fees, you fail to mention that you were fully aware that you were REQUIRED to obtain a Privilege Card in order to use your student bus pass, as you were reminded each time you tried to BUY the student pass (which you often failed to do, when the attendants asked to see your privilege card).

    Furthermore, you fail entirely to explain why our policy is vital to the proper functioning of the student pass system. If we did not have privilege cards then we would have no efficient means of ascertaining whether the individuals using reduced fare passes were in fact students or seniors. The fraud that is committed on a constant basis by non-students presents a serious financial threat to our organization’s livelyhood, and so we MUST police the verification cards if we are to maintain order.

    Finally, Mr. Clarke, it is really not a difficult task to obtain the proper documents and present yourself for photographing to get your card, and you were aware that there could be repercussions if you did not comply with the regulation. You knew the risk you took but you took it nonetheless. The results are thus your own responsibility, please do not slander us because you are both lazy and contemptuous.

    February 13th, 2004 at 12:24 am

  3. Outraged in Outremont

    Now now, THE MAN! It has become YOU who is being unfair and biased. Your comments certainly justify the NEED TO POLICE the use of Student bus passes by students alone, as well as outline several reasons why Jeremy should, in all reasonableness, have just gone and gotten his photo ID. But you completely fail to even consider the OUTRAGEOUS SUM that was in fact charged to him (as well as the other students who were simultaneously being accosted as they entered the metro station). You merely ASSUME that if the crime is to be punished, any fine that is given is deserved, but that is not only illogical, it is wrong.
    The punishment, as all punishments, should fit the crime. Thus, if a “customer” stole two hundred and five dollars (or MIGHT have stolen, or COULD have stolen) from you, then CERTAINLY a $205 fine would be appropriate. But the fact of the matter is that it is in fact IMPOSSIBLE that Jeremy could have stolen any such quantity of money from you as HE IS IN FACT A STUDENT WHO PURCHASED A PASS, AND AS SUCH PAYED FOR EVERY TIME HE USED YOUR SERVICES. Your fine effectively charges him for a FULL YEAR of illegitimate use of a student pass (taking the difference in cost between a student and adult pass), which he could not, in any way, shape, or form have accomplished. It is impossible, and, if my cegep classes do not fail me, it is A PRIORI impossible that he could have defrauded you of such sums.

    His only crime was that of not completing the errands and paperwork you assigned to him. The only fees or costs which he effectively evaded was the 9$ cost of the photo ID (which, assumedly, goes to the production of the card itself). Thus an APPROPRIATE punishment would have been something along the lines of a 9$ fine and perhaps a triple-dose of bureaucratic nonesense, or perhaps merely a 30$ fine of some sort (perhaps a revoked pass would have been adequately annoying?). Clearly however, a 200$ fine is COMPLETELY innapropriate considering the complete lack of theft, deception or wrongdoing on the part of the given party.

    prick…

    February 13th, 2004 at 9:20 pm

  4. Tim

    Jer? Who the hell is the man? I doubt its the actual STM, or if it is they sure have alot of time to throw around hunting down your blog. In fact, if its not them its even worse cause someone took alot of time to sound like the STM.
    Can oyu contest? Would it work?

    February 15th, 2004 at 3:56 pm

  5. Kristin Donovan

    I found the link through Louisa’s LJ. That completely sucks. Yeah, you should have gotten the pass, but the fine they are making you pay is unbelievable. That’s really insane. It was disproportionate to your crime.

    Sure makes me rethink trying to buy a student pass, though. The adult ones shouldn’t be TWICE as expensive. I’m no longer a student because I couldn’t *pay* for school. So each month, I pay $59 for a pass. Actually, this month I couldn’t afford a monthly the first week, so I’ve been buying weekly passes which works out to be like $72 instead. So fucking stupid.

    February 17th, 2004 at 1:08 am