Customised investigation of each complaint
Even if plaintiffs base their arguments on consistency in mediation or justice when trying to win their case, each recommendation issued by the RATP Mediator is unique and does not set a precedence. While very similar situations may indeed exist, the Mediator must investigate each case according to the law, in an equitable and impartial manner. Each case is reviewed individually, and the Mediator is not bound by any recommendation that may have been issued in a previous case.
The Mediator’s annual report describes the different types of complaints that were filed over the past year.
Example: non-validation of a bus ticket
The daughter of Mr. Y was given a violation ticket on line 414 of the SQYBUS bus network because her travel pass had not been validated. Mr. Y states that a witness saw his daughter correctly swipe her travel pass across the validation terminal. He assumes that the terminal did not function correctly and did not record the validation. He asks that the charges be dropped.
THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE
The Mediator asked the SQYBUS company to verify whether a terminal malfunction had been reported on bus line 414 on the day of the violation. Since no malfunctions had been reported, the Mediator explains to Mr. Y that after swiping a travel pass across the validation terminal, the pass is only correctly validated when the terminal emits a sound and a green light appears. Otherwise, the passenger must swipe the travel pass across the terminal again. Noting that Mr. Y’s daughter’s pass had sufficient funds on the day of the violation, the Mediator asked SQYBUS’s Customer Service to waive the €38 handling fee, which reduced the amount to pay to €33.
With the signing of a new agreement with transport users and consumers associations in early 2014, the RATP Mediator’s scope of intervention was expanded to include RATP Group subsidiaries in the Ile-de-France region. SQYBUS is one of these subsidiaries.
Example: request for compensation after missing a flight
Mr. N was waiting a bus, which arrived far behind schedule. He arrived too late at the airport and missed his flight for Spain. He considers RATP to be responsible for the financial loss which he incurred and demands compensation.
THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE
The Mediator conducted an inquiry with the bus line operators involved to find out the cause and extent of the disturbance. A passenger on an earlier bus had fallen ill and required the intervention of emergency services. This unexpected situation triggered regulatory procedures that significantly increased the intervals between some buses. Yet line operation was not interrupted. While understanding the inconvenience experienced by the plaintiff, the Mediator considers that RATP cannot be held responsible for causing the incident. The Mediator upholds the decision made by RATP’s Customer Service, which rejected Mr. N’s request for compensation.
The Mediator considers that the line operators were faced with a force majeure, and so the transport company cannot be held responsible. Bus service was not interrupted, even though some buses were eliminated to regulate the interval between buses and to reduce the delays on the line as a whole. The inquiry did not reveal any internal malfunctioning. On the contrary, the measures taken enabled the line to return to its scheduled frequency as quickly as possible. The passenger information displayed at bus stops specifies that the bus arrival times are indicative, and are for information purposes only.
Example: Identify theft
Mr. L was ticketed for illegally crossing a ticket gate without validating a travel pass or ticket. He contests this violation and the ticket that was issued, arguing that he could not have been present at the time. He provided documentation from his employer with a copy of his punch clock file, proof of his new address outside the greater Paris area, and a photocopy of his ID card. He explained that the follow-up letters were forwarded to his new address, because he continues to have his mail forwarded, and that the usurper had fraudulently used his former address.
THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE
The Mediator dropped the charges. Mr. L’s arguments, the erroneous address on the violation ticket and the supporting documents provided proved that he was a victim of identity theft for this violation.
Complaints relating to identity theft more than doubled in 2014. They accounted for 15% of all cases handled in 2014, compared to 6% in 2013. In the majority of cases, the plaintiffs were able to provide supporting documents that proved they could not have been present at the time the violation ticket was issued. The Mediator was thus able to give a favourable recommendation and to drop the charges. However, plaintiffs regularly make the same comment. They do not understand why it is up to them to prove that they could not have been present at the time and place of the violation. They consider that it is the duty of the ticket inspector to verify that the identity and address provided by the offender are really theirs. In response, the Mediator explains that while ticket inspectors have the authority to communicate the identity of those responsible for violations to the railway police, they do not have the authority to verify said identity. If the offender refuses or is unable to provide an ID card, the ticket inspector reports the incident to the nearest police officer with local jurisdiction. The police officer may authorise the ticket inspector to detain the offender until he can arrive on the scene, or order the ticket inspector to bring in the offender immediately.
Example: non validation of a tram ticket
Mr. D is given a violation ticket on board tramway T3 because he did not validate his travel pass or ticket. He explains that he was unable to access the validation terminal because the tramway was packed. He adds that he had never used this means of transport before and was not familiar with how it works. He requests that the charges be dropped.
THE MEDIATOR’S RESPONSE
The Mediator reminds Mr. D that passengers must be in possession of a validated travel pass or ticket in order to travel on RATP’s different modes of transport: bus, metro, RER and tramway. “Passenger rules” are posted in all trams and buses, to remind passengers of this requirement. Several validation terminals are installed near the doorways in each tramway so that passengers may validate their travel pass or ticket when boarding. The Mediator upheld the decision of Customer Service.
Violation tickets issued by the RATP Passenger Control Service to passengers who failed to validate their travel passes or tickets account for about 4% of the number of violations reported in 2014, of which roughly 10% are paid immediately. In the letters sent to the Mediator, passengers who did not validate their travel pass or ticket generally recognise their error, in some cases even their intention to commit fraud. Nevertheless, they ask for the fine to be discounted for several reasons. Passengers with travel passes (monthly or annual Navigo or Imagine R passes) tend to protest more strongly when they receive a violation ticket for not validating their travel pass. Having paid for their pass in advance, they do not see themselves as being dishonest and consider the ticketing to be particularly unfair. Since ticket validation is essential for supplying RATP with accurate information concerning network traffic, it is mandatory for all passengers, even those with subscription travel passes.