IS IT the passenger’s responsibility to have close to or the exact change when buying a ticket on public transport?
It’s a question that has ignited fiery debate on social media after a woman was refused passage on a bus because the driver wouldn’t accept a $20 note.
Charity call centre operator Chelsea Pimm, 21, was left stranded in Adelaide after a “rude” bus driver refused to accept her money or sell her a ticket.
Ms Pimm said the driver kicked her off the M44 bus just after 8pm on a cold week night because she only had a $20 note to pay for the $5.20 fare.
“It’s pitch black at night, it’s scary, anything could happen and I had to stay at the places which were lit for my own safety, on my own for more than 30 minutes,’’ Ms Pimm said.
Thousands of people have since taken to social media to express their views on the matter with an overwhelming majority saying Ms Pimm should have been let on the bus.
One Facebook user wrote: “If she didn’t have correct change why not just let her on the bus anyway? It’s not like she was trying to dodge a fare.”
Another said: “Easy fixed. Just get on. If they want you off they’ll call the cops. You’re not refusing to pay they are refusing to accept legal tender as payment.”
“Since when is it the responsibility of the passenger to have as close as possible the correct money, either way legal tender of cash cannot and should not be refused,” another wrote.
Those on the other side of the argument said it was the passenger’s responsibility to ensure they always carried change.
“It’s not hard to obtain change especially if you know the only means of transport is bus or train. Giving the bus driver a $20 is a joke however he could’ve been nice and let her on the bus!” one person wrote.
“Before blaming this bus driver for his actions maybe take ownership of your own actions. Not saying he did the right thing by leaving her but they don’t carry a lot of change on them and if everyone gave him a $20 for a fare then he would have no change left to give,” another said.
A transport department spokeswoman said the incident was being investigated because “it’s not the policy to only accept the correct change” and apologised for the “inconvenience or distress caused to the passenger”.
Light-City Buses, which runs the M44 service, could not be contacted for comment.
According to lobby group, People for Public Transport, the incident involving Ms Pimm comes as no surprise and said that it had received similar complaints from other passengers in the past.
PPT president Thanasis Avramis said there were “no notice on buses warning people they only accept correct change’’.
Mr Avramis said he appreciated drivers wouldn’t want to be a potential crime target by carrying large amounts of change but he said there should be an option to pay for fares by credit card.
“The department should investigate rolling out such electronic payment machines across the network,’’ he said.
While public transport rules and guidelines vary between Australian states and territories, it’s not the only incident of its kind.
Earlier this year, a Perth bus driver refused to give a young girl with no money a ride, despite a passenger offering to pay the 80 cent fare.
The incident occurred near Westfield Whitford City shopping centre when the girl realised she did not have enough credit on her Smartrider to pay the fare. Transperth investigated the incident.
In Darwin, a young man was refused passage on a bus in 2013 because the driver deemed his singlet to be too racy.
Twenty-two year old Daniel Willis attempted to board a bus with his girlfriend but the driver told him he would not let him on “because you can’t get on with that singlet”.
Mr Willis’ top depicted a Victoria’s Secret model posing in her underwear, which he bought from a surf shop in NSW.
“It’s not offensive — I’m a real beachy person and it’s just a print on the front of a beachy singlet,” he said. “No one has ever said anything bad about it before.
“Victoria’s Secret models are on television and (billboards) all the time. Maybe (the bus driver) is living a bit in the past. It’s the 21st century and times have moved on.”
In the end the couple was forced to walk to their destination.