The Victorian Ombudsman will investigate public transport fare enforcement measures after receiving a flood of complaints about the way officers from Public Transport Victoria (PTV) and the Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources have dealt with passengers suspected of evading fares.
Passengers travelling without a valid Myki card can be slapped with an instant penalty fare of $75 or issued with an infringement notice, which carries a hefty maximum penalty of $223.
But the Ombudsman received 490 complaints about the Department and PTV From 10 August 2014 to 1 December 2015, with almost 80 per cent of these related to fare enforcement.
The most common complaints involved the exercise of discretion by authorised officers during fare enforcement.
The investigation will put the administration of public transport fare enforcement under the microscope and examine:
• issuing penalty fares and infringement notices
• the complaint and review processes
• the exercise of discretion by authorised officers and relevant authorities
A key part of the investigation is to assess whether enforcement of public transport fare evasion is fair and equitable.
Complaints about the way public transport is being administered under Myki have surged over recent months. In the 2014-15 financial year the Public Transport Ombudsman also received 1,214 complaints about the issue of infringement notices and penalty fares, up 43 per cent on the previous year.
An Ombudsman spokesperson said that given the number of complaints received by both Ombudsmen, the Victorian Ombudsman would not be seeking submissions about public transport users’ experiences with fare enforcement for this investigation.
However, the Victorian Ombudsman can investigate complaints about public transport infringement notices in certain circumstances. The Public Transport Ombudsman accepts complaints about penalty fares.
An advice sheet on making a complaint about penalty fares and infringement notices can be found here.
Myki cards can be used to travel on Melbourne’s trains, trams and buses, V/Line commuter train services and buses in Seymour, Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, the Latrobe Valley and Warragul.
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