Sebastian Ocampo was scared. The sixth-grader had been turned away from the subway because he didn’t have the full fare. Now he was stranded in Oakland.
As KNTV News reports, the 11-year-old attends school at the Oakland Military Institute. On October 30, Sebastian was trying to get home from school via BART — the rail and subway transit system connecting Oakland and San Francisco.
But Sebastian didn’t have the full fare to get home to Richmond — he was 40 cents short. After a BART employee asked to see his fare card, Sebastian was turned away from the station. He told KNTV:
“They were like, ‘Oh you can’t go because you don’t have 40 cents; you have to have more money to go in. I didn’t have no money, no nothing, everything was in my Clipper Card.”
Escorted from the station and standing on the street outside, the young man panicked. He was miles from home and had no idea how to get back. What’s more, he was worried for his safety:
“There’s, like, bad people there, and […] they could have hurt me or killed me.”
Sebastian ended up calling his mother at work, and she was able to come to the rescue. But Catalina Ocampo is angry that a child could be ejected from the train station for a mere 40 cents.
Alicia Trost, a spokeswoman for BART, told SFGate that Sebastian should not have been ejected from the train:
“We are obviously are going to investigate what the station agent did and said because it’s not acceptable to have an 11-year-old be told they can’t ride BART because they’re 40 cents short.”
She went on to explain that the BART employee should have given Sebastian a pay voucher that would have shown that he owed them the 40 cents but allowed him to continue his trip. She told KNTV that, “We don’t want anyone being kicked out, especially an 11-year old.”
On Facebook, most commenters were aghast that a child would be kicked off a train over such a small amount of money.
However, there were those who argued that he should never have been in this position.
Representatives of the transit service say that the station agent in question will face discipline once he or she is identified. They add that employees should ensure that children aren’t stranded at the station, even if that means risking the possibility that kids are trying to evade paying the fare.