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Bus driver accuses 12 yr old of criminality and orders him off bus!

(46 Posts)
DottingDad29 Fri 14-Jun-19 07:01:32

So my son was ordered off the bus for using the wrong Zip Oyster Card.

When he tried to explain that the card he had presented was his old one he had lost and had since found, but innocently had mistakenly thought was the new valid one, the driver accused him of being an anti social delinquent who was involved in criminality and that TfL had in facts blocked his oyster card.

Luckily, a member of staff from the school was on bus stop duty and intervened. She explained that she was a teacher at my son's school and vouched for him being being able to travel on the bus for free as a school child.

The driver did not take well to the teacher intervening and made rude comments about teachers spoiling his life and causing trouble.

The bus driver then switched the engine off the bus and asked all passengers to get off so that the police could be called. My son was able to return to school where his valid Zip Oyster Card was in his jacket and boarded a later bus.

This was a VERY public and distressing scene for a child to experience, which from speaking to my son, he felt terribly embarrassed, more so at the thoughts of members of the public who did not know him but felt that he was at fault.

I will certainly be complaining to TfL about the conduct of the driver but wanted other's thoughts on how this should be followed up (with the school). The school hasn't been in touch about it.

I have taken away the invalid Zip Card from my son and instructed him to not interact with the driver. If the driver orders him off the bus in the future, he is to follow the instruction and let me know. The last thing I want is for him to be having a heated exchange with an aggressive ill-tempered bus driver.

Has any parents experienced anything similar?

Thoughts and opinions appreciated!


OP’s posts: |
TheFirstOHN Fri 14-Jun-19 07:03:40

wanted other's thoughts on how this should be followed up (with the school)

I think just an email thanking and praising the teacher would be fine.

Soontobe60 Fri 14-Jun-19 07:13:46

Why didn't he have the valid card on him? Also, is this his version of events or the teachers?
I'd also email the school to ask them to speak to the teacher about what happened before you go all guns blazing to the bus company, but certainly then speak to them if it proves that your son is accurate in his retelling of events. They will most likely have VT of the incident anyhow.

TheFirstOHN Fri 14-Jun-19 07:25:39

TfL have the right to withdraw the validity of a zip oyster card, which may have been what the bus driver was talking about.

If they do this, he would no longer have travel concessions, so perhaps advise him to carry the bus fare with him, just in case.

Check the T&C.

SquirmOfEels Fri 14-Jun-19 07:27:48

Driver is in the right.

The commonest reason for children travelling without a valid Zip card is that it has been suspended or withdrawn as a sanction for antisocial behaviour. The child would still have the card, and it wouid behave exactly as DS's did.

Drivers may have some sympathy and use their discretion for those entirely without a card, but not for those with Ines that respond as a withdrawn one.

The teacher's intervention is irrelevant - schools are not informed when Zips are withdrawn, and this isn't about his age.

Your DS shouid have got off the bus - drivers don't turn engines off until someone has been arguing the toss for several minutes.

You will not get far with your complaint. You need to destroy invalid Zip cards straight away so they cannot be used in error. And teach your son what he shouid do when he has made an error, which is apologise and get off the bus. Then find a work-around for his journey.

I know that sounds unsympathetic to your DS, and I do realise he was upset. But he was also in the wring and then compounded it by arguing.

BarbarianMum Fri 14-Jun-19 07:35:29

He should have got off the bus and fetched the correct card when asked. That would have avoided all fuss and embarrassment. Or were you expecting him to return to school on an invalid card the next day as well?

Hollowvictory Fri 14-Jun-19 08:45:17

Can't see anything to raise with school? You say the school hasn't been in touch I'm confused why you think they would? 🤔

prh47bridge Fri 14-Jun-19 08:58:03

I don't think you will get very far with your complaint. The driver was absolutely right to refuse to allow your son to travel with an invalid Oyster card. When your son did not leave the bus the driver did what I believe drivers are instructed to do - turned off the engine and ordered everyone off. If your son had left the bus when told to by the driver there would not have been a public scene.

I don't know what you think should have happened. It is not the bus driver's fault your son had the wrong Oyster card. If the driver had allowed your son to travel with that card and his employers had found out he could have been disciplined for it. And your son would have had a problem the next day when boarding the bus to go to school as he would still have had the wrong card.

The only possible cause for complaint is the driver accusing your son of anti-social behaviour but it depends on what he said. If it was something like, "for all I know you've been banned for anti-social behaviour", that was a perfectly reasonable comment.

If this were my son I would be getting him to apologise to the bus company for causing a delay by not leaving the bus when told to by the driver.

CherryPavlova Fri 14-Jun-19 09:00:41

If your son is very distressed by this, you need to focus on helping him deal with life and building resilience. It was a non event.

fairweathercyclist Fri 14-Jun-19 09:06:48

I think the driver was unreasonable once he was put in the picture by the teacher.

My experience of TFL drivers is that they are rubbish. They seem incapable to following the Highway Code, eg stoipping across bus stops when they can see in advance there is no room on the other side. It's clearly down to training. The driver had no right to be rude to the teacher.

Anyway I thought you got free transport in London if you are under 15 and the only reason they have a card is so that 16 year olds don't pretend to be 14? Surely a 12 year old doesn't look 16 and the driver could use common sense? Is this really worth disrupting everyone else's journeys for? Calling the police? Seriously?

SquirmOfEels Fri 14-Jun-19 09:19:54

"I think the driver was unreasonable once he was put in the picture by the teacher."

The teacher could arrest to age, but not whether Zip had been suspended by TfL, and whatever the archer said, it does not overturn the conditional no of carriage, which is that those who require a valid ticket but do not have one, must leave the bus.

That is why I stated above that the teacher's intervention is irrelevant. Thus is not about age. It is because the passenger presented a ticked which flagged as invalid, which is normally only those whose cards have been suspended. Drivers are under very strict instructions not to permit those with invalid cards from proceeding (unless they pay). If they ditherwise, it wouid make the penalty useless.

Your DS made a mistake. It was his fault he had the wrong card. It was his fault he argued with the diver instead of getting off the bus and sorting his journey some other way (pay fare or fetch correct card).

SquirmOfEels Fri 14-Jun-19 09:20:30

Not arrest - 'attest'

DottingDad29 Tue 18-Jun-19 13:31:39

Sorry for the slow reply!

Thanks for all your advice / comments / opinions on the matter!

Turns out my son's version of events was spot on! There was no arguing between him and the driver, and it was the teachers who sensed the oddity of the situation and said my son should remain on the bus. It was this which prompted the driver to switch the engine off. I am not going to lie, but as interfering as the teacher might appear in this, the behaviour of the driver means that it couldn''t have happened to a more unprofessional and mad minded bus driver! Who feels it is appropriate to carry themselves like this towards children?

Either way, the school has lodged a complaint regarding the manner the driver spoke to my son and the teacher.

@CherryPavlova My son is extremely resilient and impressively is capable of handling difficult situation, however, a grown adult with a public duty such as transporting members of the public embarking on cursing a 12 year old's future is not something I would ever put up with!

@SquirmOfEels Forget what you consider as 'normally' as the information provided to provide background on the situation was not accepted. Therefore the driver already had a predetermined judgement.

I have used this event as a teaching lesson for my son to learn from. Reiterating the importance of not forgetting essential travel documents (which happens to grown adults daily) and not rising to the gouding of an adult who is bias and on a complete erratic war path is something to take away from this. Also, when found in a position of weaker power, comply and report to me, as Daddy has your back REGARDLESS!

OP’s posts: |
SquirmOfEels Tue 18-Jun-19 13:49:23

Of course he had 'predetermined judgement' !

Or rather he didn't, not as an individual. He acted exactly in line with TfL rules about denying carriage to those whose cards flag as invalid.

The driver was not at fault here

Passthecherrycoke Tue 18-Jun-19 13:52:21

Bus drivers in London are such divas- I have been on many buses where the bus driver has turned off the engine and ordered everyone off due to some minor transgression of one passenger.

What did the driver expect your son to do, walk instead? Like the police would’ve attended for a 12 year old with an invalid oyster shock

OP I would email thanks to the school and a complaint to TFL but don’t expect much- drivers only behave like that because they know they can

prh47bridge Tue 18-Jun-19 14:06:23

The teacher was wrong, not the driver. Your son did not have a valid Oyster card. The driver could not allow him to travel no matter what the teacher or anyone else said. Calling the driver unprofessional and mad minded for doing what his employers require him to do is thoroughly unreasonable.

MollyButton Tue 18-Jun-19 14:11:37

The bus driver was in the wrong! The son was 12.
I know at rail stations they have a duty of care to under 16s and will provide a rail warrant to ensure that they can get home if they lose their ticket.

nonicknameseemsavailable Tue 18-Jun-19 14:21:17

I would thank the school, destroy the invalid one and hope that the school's complaint gets looked at properly.

just as an aside though I am jealous your kids get to travel free. they don't in many parts of the country. bus fare from 5 and 6 here with our two companies. costs a fortune if you need to get the bus to school so my daughter will walk the 4 mile round trip to school rather than get the bus as £3 a day adds up. we are lucky we are near enough that walking is an option.

Bluerussian Tue 18-Jun-19 14:27:02

"...the driver accused him of being an anti social delinquent who was involved in criminality and that TfL..."

The driver was probably in the right in many respects but should not have said the above, that was appalling. Neither should he have badmouthed the teacher. What an unpleasant, ignorant man.

elderlyhippo Tue 18-Jun-19 21:15:50

"What did the driver expect your son to do,"

Presumably to travel with a valid ticket - same expectation for everyone.

Cancelling Zips is about the only sanction TfL has for antisocial behaviour (other than prosecution, but they don't always want to go straight for that for teens) so it's not surprising that there is zero tolerance on those who present cancelled cards.

I don't think TfL tell schools when Zips are withdrawn, so a teacher's intervention would add nothing helpful. And doesn't alter the basic fact that you cannot travel without a ticket.

So everyone on the bus would expect the person to pay by card, or get off the bus to fetch valid ticket, or get off the bus and make another travel arrangement.

Railworker Tue 18-Jun-19 23:12:04

To those banging on about this child having a valid ticket “like everyone else” - travel is free on buses in London for children age 15 and under. TfL has a duty of care to children. This driver was being a belligerent bully particularly as he had the boys teacher to vouch for him. MN at its meanest.

Naem Tue 18-Jun-19 23:57:49

Isn't the question really about balance of probabilities and needing matters to be beyond reasonable doubt before treating someone as a criminal?
There are two reasons why a kid who is clearly under 16 might produce a non valid zip oyster card. a) the actual situation, ie kid thinks he has lost his zip oyster, it is cancelled and a new one issued, but then the original is found and confused with the other (or produced while waiting for the other to arrive); or b) it is withdrawn because of antisocial behaviour and breach of the Young Person's Behaviour Code.
I can't find with a quick Google search how many cards TFL have withdrawn in any given year for antisocial behaviour, but presumably there should be data somewhere. I certainly don't know any children who have had their zip oyster cards withdrawn in this way, but then maybe i don't move in those kinds of circles. Even so, I would have thought that the numbers would be relatively low.
I do know any number of children who have misplaced their zip oyster, had it cancelled and found the original,. My own DC have done this on a number of occasions, and so have all of their friends. TFL makes a steady profit on the £10 it costs to obtain a new zip oyster, as I cannot believe that it costs anywhere near that much to print a new one and post it. It is a lovely little earner for them. And my own DC, along with their friends, have at times got confused between the new ones and the old ones that then emerge, so this is a not uncommon scenario. My DD is particularly scatterbrained, and I think has done this not frequently.
So my guess is that, on the balance of probabilities, the likelihood that a particular DC has had their zip oyster withdrawn for antisocial behaviour compared with, has misplaced it, had it cancelled and then found it again is pretty low. Especially if they are and look 12.
There was probably also some form of visual discrimination going on here as well. My DD, who looks younger than her 12 years, and is, dare I say it, quite pretty in a cutsy girly way, and doesn't look like she could say boo to a goose, is I imagine much less likely to be accused of anything criminal than a boy. That may be why the bus drivers just tend to let her on if she tells them that she is waiting for her new zip oyster card to arrive, and produces an old one lost and found one (or even doesn't produce one at all). I generally send a prepaid adult oyster card every time it happens, but she keeps telling me the drivers just let her on. She too would certainly feel humilated if one of them suggested she was a criminal, but somehow I would be surprised if that happened. Rather, I suspect, she brings out the paternal instinct and they happily let her on.

prh47bridge Wed 19-Jun-19 00:25:24

travel is free on buses in London for children age 15 and under

I'm afraid you are wrong. Travel is free for 11-15 year olds PROVIDED they have a valid 11-15 Zip Oyster photocard. The OP's son did not and was therefore not entitled. And there is no duty of care that requires a London bus to allow an 11-15 year old to travel without a valid Zip Oyster photocard. The driver was not being a belligerent bully. He was doing his job.

prh47bridge Wed 19-Jun-19 00:33:56

I can't find with a quick Google search how many cards TFL have withdrawn in any given year for antisocial behaviour

I've found a response to an FoI request that suggests around 1,700 cards are withdrawn per year for breaches of TfL's behaviour code.

Railworker Wed 19-Jun-19 05:11:16

Clearly, given the balance of probability illustrated by Naem, the bus driver could have used his discretion. Especially with the boy actually having a witness to him not being a criminal (and merely having lost a card/replaced a card). And bus drivers have been given guidance about not leaving school children on the streets possibly miles from home and with possibly no way of getting there. This driver was being a jobsworth and from the way he treated the child (and the teacher) a verbally abusive bully. Perhaps children in the areas you frequent are not prey to muggings/stabbings, like a lot of the areas many of our London kids are travelling through/experiencing on a daily basis. Perhaps we should all be driving our secondary school aged children to school and back instead of taking up the offer of free transport for children. Let’s face it, at 12, this child cannot earn his own money yet. Bus drivers do have discretion, this one decided on humiliation, intimidation and to inconvenience all his other passengers to stoke his ego because he was in a grump that day. It’s called humanity - this driver declined to show any (and was probably the same one who yelled at me very threateningly as a very young mum trying my best to wrestle my buggy with my weeks old baby onto a London bus (with my valid Oyster) for not folding it up quickly enough/getting her out quickly enough whilst trying not to burst my recent c-section stitches. Although there are lovely drivers out there, I’m afraid half the time these people are nasty, unkind and out to get you personalities who should be nowhere near a public facing role. Great that you’re kid has been a perfect angel and never got confused about their oyster (which is merely proof of eligibility for this free 11-15 yr old service). And so glad your 12 year old is a Peter-perfect robot and will never get stranded and need any kindness or understanding prh47.
This was just mean. Our society is getting hardened to meanness.

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