August 2, 2013 2:31 pm

No change for the bus? That’s a problem. A $219 problem.

Montreal bus at night.

Yannick Gadbois/Global News

MONTREAL – After five hours at the Montreal Children’s Hospital, a young mother had to take the bus home with her infant son last Friday evening.

But when Pauline Tantost boarded the bus headed for the Montreal neighbourhood of Verdun, she was in for an unpleasant surprise.

The 24-year-old only had a $5 bill but the total bus fare was $3.

It was after 10 p.m. and she was exhausted from the hours spent at the hospital with her son.

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Holding her baby in her arms, she told the driver she would just give him her last $5 bill and the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) could keep the change.

But this is where things got tricky. The driver told her that he could not accept the note, only exact change.

As the bus was already moving, Tantost sat down with her son. The driver warned her that if she stayed on the bus without paying, she risked being fined if an inspector came aboard.

Not long after, an STM patrol vehicle rolled up with its lights flashing. Two inspectors boarded the bus and demanded to see everyone’s tickets.

“I was tired,” admitted Tantost. “I started crying. I just wanted to get home.”

She got off the bus and spoke with the investigators, who then presented her with a $219 fine for riding on the bus without a ticket.

When Pauline Tantost boarded the bus headed for the Montreal neighbourhood of Verdun, she was in for an unpleasant surprise: a $219 ticket.

Francis Joly/Global News

The STM officers then took off in their car, leaving the young mother on a street corner in the dark with her baby.

“I asked them what I should do,” said Tantost. “They told me to wait for another bus and then show them the fine as proof of payment.”

Isabelle Tremblay, a spokesperson for the STM told Global News that an investigation is ongoing after a formal complaint was filed by a passenger.

She also confirmed that the employee will be interviewed.

When asked why the driver couldn’t accept the $5 bill, Tremblay said that the ticket machines on STM buses were not equipped to take anything but coins. Montreal bus fare boxes do not accept bills.

© Shaw Media, 2013

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