A BART station agent was fired for giving unused train tickets to a 16-year-old boy in need to help him pay for his commute to school, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.
Jim Stanek, 66, received a letter from BART informing him of his termination after he was caught supplying the teen with $300 worth of tickets to get to school.
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According to the San Jose Mercury News, the teen was a family friend living with his grandparents in Oakley who began struggling in school after the recent death of his father. The teen's grandparents then enrolled him at Flex Academy in San Francisco –- a tuition-free charter school that offers customized learning plans –- where his performance improved. However, with a round-trip BART ticket costing $11 per day, the family was having trouble coming up with the $220 per month transportation cost.
In an effort to help, Stanek gave the teen a stack of unused BART tickets. When a BART rider loses his tickets, he must buy a new one and hand it over to the attendant in order to exit the station. Stanek gave these discarded tickets to the teen.
But the teen was eventually stopped at a BART station and questioned about the gifted tickets, leading to Stanek's termination.
In a video interview with CBS, Stanek appeared devastated and emotional.
"I'm not saying I'm unblemished here. I made a mistake. I screwed up," said Stanek to the Chronicle. "I gave tickets to the boy for reasons not for profit -- for benevolence, to help the kid."
Stanek admitted that he was at fault, but said that the penalty did not seem to be fitting of the crime.
"Did I expect it? Yes," he told the Chronicle. "It's kind of the way things go with BART. I don't think public opinion matters to them. It doesn't, I guess."
According to BART spokesman Jim Allison, tickets are supposed to be turned over to lost-and-found, or go to the agency's treasury department. The Chronicle reported:
BART periodically collects unused tickets and deposits their value into the general fund, which pays for train operations and workers' salaries, Allison said. In March, BART collected nearly $10,000 this way, he said.
"I would hope that most people know that we don't have a culture of waste, that we are very much interested in making sure our customers know they're getting the best value for their dollar," Allison said. "That includes fiscal responsibility - tracking where all the tickets and all the money goes."
Allison explained that, while Stanek's decision may have been made in compassion, it was not his decision to make.
"We're a government entity, so we can't just decide to give away stuff that makes us feel good," said Allison to the Mercury News. "It's public money. Any potential revenue we have, like if a ticket returned for some reason, that gets put back into the general fund."
According to CBS, Stanek plans to appeal the decision through his union.
Watch CBS's video about the situation below. Then, let us know what you think in the comments section: