A woman was fined and escorted off a train because she forgot to tag on with her SmartRider during a free public transport period.

Bianca Allen hopped on a train to Fremantle. Thinking she would enjoy a free ride due to the cost-of-living initiative the Cook Government rolled out before Christmas. But two Transperth officers approached her on the train and wrote up a $100 fine. Claiming that and claimed she hadn’t tagged on.

Bianca thought she had tagged on, but she couldn’t find her glasses in the rush to catch the train. So she just listened for the beep and assumed it was all good. “My husband and I were rushing to the train. I bent down to tag on my card and I was missing my glasses. I relied on the beep, heard the beep, and thought yeah I’ve done it,” she said.

She said getting escorted off the train to be met by more guards felt like a scene out of a crime movie. “It’s free and they’re dishing out $100 fines to people…we’re meant to be helping families by giving free transport.” The stress from the whole ordeal has kept Ms Allen up for nights. “If this is how a law-abiding passenger is treated for a simple misunderstanding, then I would worry for any child who, while travelling to and from school alone, is confronted by a similar situation.”

Even though the rides were free, Transperth says tagging on is still necessary to keep the whole transport system running smoothly. “This initiative is available to SmartRider users only as this enables the Public Transport Authority to continue collating patronage data which influences various important business metrics that keep Perth’s public transport network running effectively, including knowing when services are at capacity,” said Tranperth spokesperson David Hynes.