Monday, December 17, 2012

Fuck tha Train Police!

fuck-tha-train-police

Up until recently, I didn't realise that I needed a law degree to know what my rights are as a train passenger. I'm sure many idiots like me have had the stunning misapprehension that transit officers hold at least some of the rudimentary powers that police do. As I’ve always suspected, they don’t. Things like the Rail Safety Act aren’t exactly sitting on my side-table, so what that means is that I had next to no clue what my rights were whenever I was approached by a transit officer. Legally speaking, I needed to know, am I their bitch or what?

Not that it’s our fault that we routinely step onto RailCorp property without knowing how we can and can’t be treated, nor do I think it’s an accident either!

After a few altercations, I decided to step out of the smog and educate myself of my rights as a commuter. Did I find them out from the ‘Commuter Rights’ page I found on the CityRail and RailCorp websites? No, because I just made that page up. You would think something like that would exist, wouldn’t you? In fact, both of the aforementioned organisations have never made any effort to enlighten commuters of the powers in which transit officers have been awarded, even in the media. The thing about this that actually makes a whole lot of sense though is the fact that RailCorp actually want you to think that transit officers are police officers. They like that misconception, and what better way is there to nurture a misconception to good health than to simply change an officer’s uniform from that putrid grey colour to blue and mention nothing else about it anywhere, as if to create the phantasm of NSW’s actual police force. And as of March next year, they’ll also be painting toy guns black and spraying ticket evaders with a hail of Nerf bullets.

Pow! Pow!

I’ve got to hand it to them though, they’ve played it smart since even before the transit officers were implemented ten years ago. The state government knows what we’re like; if the regulations aren’t mentioned anywhere for somebody to stumble upon, then there aren’t any seeds to grow any questions that will make some sort of racket. So, in the interest of public-service, if they aren’t going to do it then I suppose I’ll just go ahead and plant that seed myself then.

A Rail Safety Officer or Rail Transit Officer (notice how I didn’t say ‘police’) cannot, cannot, cannot:

  • Ask for identification. It is, however, an offence not to state your name or address if requested, but it’s not an offence if you choose not to prove it.
  • Arrest you. They can do a citizen’s arrest, but so can you and I, so I suppose those officers better watch the fuck out!

As well as those two things, the only real stuff they can do is the usual laundry list:

  • Give you a fine (using whatever name and address you give them).
  • Ask you to produce your ticket and/or concession/student cards.
  • Kick you to the curb (by that I mean 'gently escort you from the premises').

And that’s about it. Anything short of that and they’re technically breaking rules themselves. However, what they can bluff people into doing, well, they won't like me mentioning that. The thing is that our state rail, unlike other states (see Melbourne’s rail), have always struggled to get the necessary approval to give these officers more power than the measly limp-dicked few that they do have, so they’re only option has been to cross their fingers and do what they can to make us – the people – unwittingly act against our best-interest.

It sounds nefarious, I know, especially since we’re talking about a government entity and people's money, but I’m not just being grandiose when I say that – I defy you to find out your commuter rights without digging through some law website. So, next time you’re accosted by these people that dress in police costumes, just follow the advice of N.W.A., “wika, wika, fuck tha police!”...well the train police...well train officers.

And yeah, if you want to check out the act itself where I found all of this, you can download that here. Part five, page sixty-seven is where the honey’s at.