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Transport for London (17 014 206)

Category : Transport and highways > Public transport

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 25 Jan 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Dr B’s complaint about a penalty fare notice issued on a bus, charging for new bus passes and the failure of Transport for London to respond to his complaint. Dr B could have appealed against the penalty fare notice and the authority has provided copies of its responses to his complaints. We have not seen any fault the authority’s actions.

The complaint

Dr B complains that his son was issued a penalty fare notice (PFN) when he travelled without his bus pass. And that Transport for London (TfL) charges for issuing new bus passes. His also says that TFL failed to respond to his letter of complaint.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. We investigate complaints about ‘maladministration’ and ‘service failure’. In this statement, I have used the word ‘fault’ to refer to these. We must also consider whether any fault has had an adverse impact on the person making the complaint. I refer to this as ‘injustice’. We provide a free service, but must use public money carefully. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we believe:
  • it is unlikely we would find fault, or
  • it would be reasonable for the person to ask for a council review or appeal.

(Local Government Act 1974, section 24A (6), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Dr B and TfL. He commented on the draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. The Transport for London website says that zip oyster photocards give free travel on buses and trams for under 18 year olds. The cards issued cover different age brackets:
    • 11-15 – enables holders to travel free on buses and trams
    • 16+ - enables holders to buy child rate travel cards, bus and tram passes
  2. The website states you must have your card with you to qualify for free or discounted travel. If you do not have your card with you must pay the correct fare.
  3. Dr B’s son was travelling to school in the in the summer during the GCES exam period. He was in school uniform and was travelling with a group of other similarly dressed students. Unfortunately, he did not have his card with him and therefore was issued with an PFN after he was challenged by an inspector.
  4. Dr B says the ticket inspector should not have issued the PFN as his son was clearly a student as he was in school uniform. He says this was unfair and added to his son’s stress at exam time.
  5. The terms and conditions for use of the zip oyster card are clear. You must be carrying your card to qualify free or discounted travel. If you do not have your card with you then you may receive a penalty fare notice. The fact that Dr B’s son was in school uniform is irrelevant, he did not have his card with him and should have paid the correct fare. He did not, therefore the ticket inspector acted according to published procedures when he issued the PFN. Also, Dr B could have appealed against the notice but he did not.
  6. Dr B also complains about the charge for issuing a new card when the young person moves into a different age bracket. The different cards entitle the holder to different benefits. For example, the 11 – 15 card allows the holder to travel free on buses and trams. But the 16+ card entitles the holder to buy child rate tickets. TfL confirms the £10 charge covers administration, production and postage costs only. These charges are published on its website. I have not seen any evidence that the authority is at fault in making a charge for a new card.
  7. Finally, Dr B says TfL ignored his complaint. However, if has provided copies of its letter dated 6 September 2017, sent in response to his first complaint. It sent a further response to his complaint in December, enclosing a copy of its original complaint in case Dr B had not received it. I have not seen any evidence of fault in the way the authority dealt with Dr B’s complaint.

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Final decision

  1. I will not investigate this complaint as we have not seen any evidence of fault in the authority’s actions.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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