Stranded at station
Train operator Transdev has apologised to an 11-year-old girl who was left alone and terrified at an unfamiliar station after being wrongly asked to disembark.
Young Jasleen Kaur was travelling on the train from Manurewa to school in Remuera on Monday morning when a ticket inspector accused her of not paying for the journey.
Jasleen remembers tagging on with her HOP card at Manurewa train station.
Her mother Parwinder also saw Jasleen tag on at the station.
But when the inspector scanned her card with a hand-held device the word "undefined" came up on the screen, Jasleen says.
The inspector then told her to get off the train at Puhinui station and tag on again at the machine there.
"I was looking for the machine but I couldn't see it," Jasleen says.
"When I finally found it and tagged on, the train suddenly left.
"I didn't hear a whistle and no-one told me it was going to leave or anything."
The Weymouth girl was left stranded at Puhinui, a station she had never been to before.
"I didn't know what was happening - my mind was in a million different directions," she says.
"I didn't know what was going to happen to me at that moment. I didn't feel safe at all."
Mrs Kaur was horrified to receive a call from her daughter telling her she was alone at the station.
It's lucky Jasleen had credit on her mobile phone or "anything could have happened", she says.
The incident has knocked her daughter's confidence and she was so upset she could hardly speak, Mrs Kaur says.
"She used to be so excited about taking the train. But now I don't think she will any more."
Dad Jasprit Singh was appalled at the train inspector's treatment of his daughter. Jasleen had enough cash in her pocket to pay for the fare but didn't think to use it because the inspector didn't ask, he says.
"That might be obvious for an adult but an 11-year-old isn't going to have that thought process."
Auckland Transport's records show that Jasleen's original tag-on failed, spokesman Mark Hannan says.
That will sometimes happen if a HOP card is removed from the machine too quickly, particularly if the card has been topped up since it was last used, he says.
But Transdev Auckland managing director Terry Scott says the inspector should not have asked Jasleen to exit the train regardless.
"As she genuinely tried to pay her fare she should have been allowed to travel."
He has called the family to apologise and offer them compensation.
Mr Singh has not accepted the offer, saying his intention in lodging a complaint was only to make sure the same thing didn't happen again.
Mr Scott says Transdev policy wasn't clear to the ticket inspector and the policy has been reissued to all staff to prevent a repeat of the incident.
"Children on our trains are in the care of Transdev staff," he says.
"And we take our responsibility for their welfare very seriously."