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Transport for London (17 018 731)

Category : Transport and highways > Public transport

Decision : Closed after initial enquiries

Decision date : 26 Mar 2018

The Ombudsman's final decision:

Summary: The Ombudsman will not investigate Miss X’s complaint about a penalty bus fare. This is because she has completed the appeals process and can raise a defence in court if she is prosecuted for non-payment.

The complaint

  1. Miss X says she was wrongly issued a penalty bus fare for fare evasion. She says Transport for London (TfL) failed to give her a ticket or information on how to appeal. And it increased the penalty fare from £40 to £120 without any correspondence.

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The Ombudsman’s role and powers

  1. The Local Government Act 1974 sets out our powers but also imposes restrictions on what we can investigate.
  2. We have the power to start or discontinue an investigation into a complaint within our jurisdiction. We may decide not to start or continue with an investigation if we think the issues could reasonably be, or have been, raised within a court of law. (Local Government Act 1974, sections 24A (6) and 34B (8), as amended)

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How I considered this complaint

  1. I considered the information provided by Miss X in her complaint form and the authority’s final response to her. She commented on the draft version of this decision.

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What I found

  1. Miss X was issued a penalty bus fare for fare evasion. She says the inspector failed to give her a ticket or any information on the appeals process. She says she did not receive any correspondence from TfL and the penalty increased from £40 to £120.
  2. TfL says Miss X left the bus before the inspector could hand her the ticket. It also says its investigation, appeals and prosecution team have considered her appeal and found no fault in the way the penalty fare was issued. It referred Miss X to TravelWatch. This is the official watchdog organisation which deals with complaints from public transport users in London, when a transport provider has failed to resolve the complaint.
  3. Miss X says TravelWatch sided with TfL and failed to uphold her complaint. She continues to dispute the fine and stresses she did not evade paying her bus fare.

Assessment

  1. I will not start an investigation into this complaint. Miss X may not believe she has had sufficient opportunity to appeal against her ticket. But TfL confirmed it has considered her appeal. And she says TravelWatch has ‘sided’ with TfL, although she says she has not bee given the opportunity to appeal. She wants the Ombudsman to require TfL to allow her to appeal the initial fine and give her the opportunity to pay the lower discounted amount.
  2. The Ombudsman it not an appeal body and it is not his role to decide if the Authority should have issued the fine, should cancel it or allow payment at the discounted rate.
  3. The Authority might prosecute Miss X if she does not pay. If it does then she can raise a defence in court and a judge will decide if she is liable for the penalty fare.

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Final decision

  1. I will not investigate this complaint. This is because she can ask TravelWatch to consider her complaint if she has not already done so. Also, if she is prosecuted she can raise a defence in court and the judge will decide if she must pay the fine.

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Investigator's decision on behalf of the Ombudsman

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