New on-the-spot £50 fines for Bristol bus passengers without valid tickets

Those without a valid ticket will be charged £50 and could be taken to court if it is not paid
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First Bus is set to deploy a team of officers across its Bristol fleet who will charge people without a valid ticket.     

The ‘revenue protection officers’ will ride on buses across the West of England network from March 1 to check passengers’ tickets.      

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Those who are unable to show a valid ticket or the required ID for the ticket will be issued a standard fare charge of £50 by the officers.   

A First spokesperson explained: “Most customers pay the correct fare, but a small minority try to take advantage by presenting or asking for a ticket they are not entitled to (e.g. an adult with a child ticket), or by more blatantly avoiding paying.

“We don't want our drivers to be in a difficult position, so the revenue protection officers are there to provide support, and to deter and catch those who abuse the system, which isn't fair on other customers.

“By collecting the proper fares we ensure that we can invest in better services for our customers.”

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First said the £50 charge is neither a fine nor a penalty fare. It said those who have lost tickets or missed stops could still be charged.  

The officers will wear body cameras in standby mode, and First says customers will be warned before they are switched on - 'if it is reasonably possible to do so’.

The officers will also deal with anti-social behaviour on buses including smoking, vaping, feet on seats, loud music, eating and drinking alcohol. 

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First said those charged the £50 fare notice will have 21 days of receiving the notice to pay or appeal it. It can also be paid on the spot by card or cash. 

The bus company said those that don’t pay the £50 will receive reminder letters, and that it will issue a County Court Summons if it is still not paid. 

The spokesperson added: “This will also include court fees, our reasonable legal costs and interest due at the Court prescribed rate from the date the notice is issued until judgement is received. 

"It is worth noting, that should the judgement be in our favour; a County Court Judgement (CCJ) will be registered against you.

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“If the debt remains unpaid, we will have to enforce the judgement using either bailiffs or an attachment on your earnings. 

“This could have serious consequences for both your personal and professional life as it remains active for 6 years.”

First said they will only allow one appeal and that their decision is final, but that customers have the right to complain to BusUsers, an independent ombudsman.

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