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Early swipe on buses attracts fines.

Dubai: Public Transport commuters in Dubai are crying foul as the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) inspectors penalise dozens of people for swiping their Nol tickets much before disembarking the bus.

Gulf News has come across several cases recently, where regular bus users have been issued fines for allegedly "not paying applicable fare."

Though, commuters insist they have paid the applicable fare, their only aACAycrime' is that they swiped the Nol cards a few metres before the approaching bus stop.

A regular commuter, Ali Fakruddin, had to pay a fine of Dh210 last week for what the inspector claimed was "not paying the applicable fine." Though Fakruddin says he checked out along with a dozen others just a stone's throw away from the bus stop.

"I wanted to get down at a bus stop near Al Futtaim Mosque on Naif Street. Since a lot of people embark and disembark from the stop, it becomes a hassle for all to swipe the cards at the same time at the stop, so most people start checking out a few metres before the stop and I did the same. But, due to traffic the bus reached the stop more than five minutes after we swiped the cards. When we finally started to disembark the inspector stopped us and checked our Nol cards. He issued fines against more than a dozen people including me," said Ali Fakhruddin.

He added the commuters tried to explain their situation, but the inspectors did not bother to listen and "threatened to double the amount of fine."

"I have lived in the UAE for 14 years, but I have never come across such a situation before. I think Dubai prides itself on the service it provides, but what I saw last week was contrary to the spirit of Dubai. The inspectors were harassing people and bullying the commuters, they were making fun of us and laughing at our helplessness. They confiscated our Emirates ID and we couldn't do much, but stay quiet," said Fakhruddin.

Another commuter who witnessed a similar scene said the inspectors should use logic and common sense before issuing fines.

"They should take into consideration the situation and scenario. How does checking out just 10 metres away from the stop amount to cheating? What difference does it make to the amount of fare paid if you swipe the Nol card just five minutes away from the stop? I think there is no logic to the decision," argued Hannan Ahmad, a commuter who has been fined before.

However, a senior RTA official insists the fines issued by the inspectors are valid as the check out is legally allowed only at the bus stop the commuters are disembarking at.

"If a passenger swiped the Nol card before disembarking the bus, then the fine is valid according to the law number three of 2009 for regulating public transport. The passenger has to swipe the card only after the bus is at the stop," said Yousuf Al Ali, CEO of RTA's Public Transport Agency.

He added that if a passenger swipes early, than the inspectors cannot determine between somebody who is cheating and someone paying the fare legally.

"The checking in should be done while getting on the bus and the check out while getting off, so that the system can calculate the exact fare of the entire trip. Passengers should adhere to RTA rules and be safe, as we cannot identify the intention of the people," he said.

However, commuters argue that swiping the card only after the bus pulls over at a stop is not always practically possible due to the rush.

In another case an elderly passenger was forced to disembark by an inspector in the middle of her trip home because she checked in twice by mistake.

"I am regular user of public transport and I have lived in Dubai for almost 40 years, but this is something I have never come across before. I absent-mindedly swiped the Nol card twice when I got on the bus and after a couple of stops, when the inspector arrived I told him what I had done. He immediately asked me to disembark and wouldn't listen to any of my arguments. I got down in the heat and almost fainted while waiting for him to issue the fine," said Patricia Al Fakhri, a 69 year old art teacher.

Talking about the case, Al Ali said inspectors were just following the rules and cannot differentiate from people to people.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Geographic Code:7UNIT
Date:May 15, 2015
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