Here is some information about some of the common public transport complaint issues we see. If you would like to discuss your public transport complaint, please contact us.

Myki is the smart card ticketing system for public transport in Victoria.

You can use myki on:

  • Metropolitan trains, trams and buses
  • V/Line commuter train services
  • Bus services in Ballarat, Bendigo, Geelong, the Latrobe Valley, Seymour and Warragul.

The Victorian Fares and Ticketing Manual (VFTM) sets out the conditions of travel for myki. You can look at the VFTM here. However, the PTO also expects the conditions of travel information to be provided to consumers in a clear and accessible format. This can be via PTV’s website, the PTV call centre or on the public transport network.

If you would like information about how myki works, please refer to the PTV website.

Top tips for travelling with myki

  1. Only buy your myki from an authorised retailer like 7-Eleven, card vending machines or railway stations. If you buy a myki from someone who is not authorised, you could lose your money.
  2. Make sure you take all reasonable steps to have enough money on your myki to cover your fare before travelling. For example, you might need to make a separate trip to top up your myki before getting on a tram because you can’t top up on board.
  3. Make sure you have ‘touched on’ your myki properly. Listen for the sound and look at the screen at the myki gate to make sure your touch on is successful.
  4. Register your myki. This protects the money on your myki if it is lost or stolen.
  5. Make sure that you are carrying the right proof that you’re entitled to a concession fare if you are travelling on a concession myki. For example, if you are travelling on a concession myki because you are a student and you are over 17, you need to have a PTV approved school student ID card or a Victorian Public Transport student concession card from PTV.
  6. Check out the PTV website to see if you are entitled to an iUse pass, which provides discounted travel to international undergraduate students.
  7. Do some research to work out the cheapest way to travel. Regular travellers may save money using a myki pass rather than myki money. You can get information from the PTV website or by calling PTV on 1800 800 007.

Fines

If you are caught without a valid myki or correct proof of concession by public transport staff such as an Authorised Officer, you may receive a fine in the mail. You can challenge the fine in writing. We cannot help you appeal a fine, but we can help you with general information about fines if you contact us and we can look at a complaint about the circumstances in which you were fined. You can find out about appealing against your fine here

Myki complaints

Here are some of the common myki issues complained about to the Public Transport Ombudsman’s office:

Concessions

There are different myki cards, including different concession mykis. A concession myki requires you to travel with proof of entitlement to the concession myki. Information about entitlement to a concession myki can be found on the PTV website or you can contact the PTV call centre on 1800 800 007 for advice. If you travel with a concession myki and you do not have the correct proof of entitlement, you may be issued with a fine.

If you want to travel on public transport on a concession myki as a student and you are over 17, you need either a PTV approved school student ID card or Victorian Public Transport (VPT) concession card as proof of entitlement. These cards need to carried as proof of entitlement. You can find out more here. If you travel with a concession myki and you do not have the correct proof of entitlement, you may be issued with a warning or a fine.

If you want to travel on a concession myki with a Health Care Card as proof of entitlement, you need to have a Health Care Card issued in your name. Any dependents listed on the Health Care Card cannot use it as proof of entitlement. While being listed on a Health Care Card may offer some concession entitlements elsewhere, it doesn’t apply to public transport.

Refunds and reimbursements

Consumers are entitled to a refund of any unused balance owing on their myki card. Refund and reimbursement requests can be made via your online account or the PTV call centre. If a myki is submitted for a refund, the card is cancelled, and the entire balance refunded.

Many of the refund and reimbursement public transport complaints we look at involve passes, rather than myki money. When PTV says ‘unused’ in relation to passes it means passes that either have not been activated or have pass days remaining. PTV doesn’t provide refunds for expired passes, or for pass days that have been used. It is important to understand that if a pass has been activated, pass days are being used even if the pass isn’t being used for travel.

Sometimes consumers may be entitled to reimbursement for used pass days or myki money fares. Requests can be made for ticketing equipment faults, medical conditions and other special circumstances.

Overcharging / default fares

The myki system is designed to charge a fare at the end of a journey and when a myki is touched off. However, there isn’t always a requirement to touch off. For example, if you’re travelling on a tram within zone 1 you don’t need to touch off your myki.

If a myki isn’t touched off, a default fare might be charged. This might be more than or the same amount as the highest fare possible. A default fare can be a significant amount if you are travelling in a regional area. A default fare myki not be charged for some time, depending on how often a myki is used. This can be confusing for passengers when checking their myki money balance or travel history.

We look at public transport complaints from consumers who have been overcharged or charged a default fare. When we investigate these complaints, we look at the consumer’s individual circumstances and what a fair and reasonable outcome to the complaint would be.

If you don’t have a valid ticket when you travel on public transport you may receive a fine.  Fines also apply to other transport offences. 

Why we cannot help you with a fine

If public transport staff such as an AO decides to report you for travelling on public transport without a valid ticket or concession, they will record your details and complete a report of non-compliance for the Department of Transport (the Department). You may then get a fine of $248 in the mail. In some circumstances, the Department may issue you with a warning.

Public transport fines and warnings are issued by the Department, which is not a member of the Public Transport Ombudsman scheme. Information about appealing against a fine can be found on the Department’s website. 

What we can help you with

Although we cannot look at an appeal against a public transport fine, there may be other issues we can help you with.

For example, we can look at the conduct of AOs and other public transport staff, as well as problems with myki and public transport infrastructure such as myki readers and card vending machines.

We can investigate complaints about noise and public transport. However, there are some significant limits to our jurisdiction which are explained below.

What you need to tell us

When you make a noise complaint to us, you will need to provide the following information:

  • Relevant dates, times and locations;
  • Frequency of the noise;
  • Types of noise (a clear description will help to identify the source);
  • Carriage numbers, bus numbers, tram numbers where possible; and
  • Any changes in services/noise levels that you have noticed.

You will need to tell us what you are seeking to resolve your complaint and we will discuss with you whether this is likely to be achieved through our process.

Where relevant, we may look at what measures you have implemented to reduce the impact of noise on your property.

Our investigation

We will consider all the information provided in assessing the merits of your noise complaint. This will include investigating:

  • The source of the noise and whether any laws or codes exempt the operator from liability;
  • Whether practical steps have been taken by the operator to reduce the noise emissions as far as is practicable;
  • Whether any further practical reduction in noise emissions is possible; and
  • The handling of your complaint by the operator.

Site visits

We may arrange a site visit which allows us to meet with you and the operator and identify the noise that is of concern. A site visit is useful because it ensures the nature of the complaint is understood by everyone and all parties will have the opportunity to hear the noise and assess whether it is unusual or standard operational noise.

Limits to our jurisdiction

There are limits to our jurisdiction in relation to noise complaints.

The Ombudsman can make a binding decision up to the value of $5,000 or $10,000 with the agreement of the public transport operator. The likely costs involved in making changes to infrastructure or rolling stock to eliminate the cause of noise would in most cases exceed our monetary limit.

Tram and train operators have exemptions from some environmental controls under legislation, which generally place the needs of operators to run an efficient and effective passenger service for the general public ahead of the rights of individuals to quiet enjoyment of their property.

Responsibility for the specification and design of trains, trams, sidings, depots, stations and platforms rest with the Victorian Government, therefore we cannot investigate this aspect of a noise complaint.

We can identify when an operator is not complying with legislation, regulation or standards, but we do not have an enforcement role. We need to refer these issues to the relevant regulator or enforcement body, which can include PTV or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Outcomes

Noise complaints can involve complex issues and in some instances the outcome being sought (cessation of all noise) may not be possible. We may consider that other remedies should be provided to ensure a fair and reasonable outcome is achieved, in the context of our jurisdiction. These remedies may include:

  • Provision of information
  • An apology
  • A commitment by the operator to review internal processes/conduct
  • A change of internal policies/procedures
  • The provision of a goodwill gesture

We aim to resolve complaints through agreement, but when investigating noise complaints this is often not possible. If your complaint cannot be resolved through agreement and we cannot assist further, we will try to refer you to another organisation.

Compensation

When we look at a public transport complaint, we can consider what compensation may be appropriate to resolve the complaint. It is important to realise that not every complaint will result in compensation.

Here are some examples of when we would consider compensation for loss suffered by a consumer:

  • Significantly delayed or cancelled public transport services
  • A significant breach of privacy
  • The provision of inaccurate advice and poor staff behaviour
  • A failure or lack of operator policies or procedures
  • In limited circumstances, claims from businesses for loss of profits.

We do not consider compensation for the following types of claims:

  • The costs associated with making the complaint
  • Claims for exemplary or punitive damages
  • Claims for injury to feelings or pain and suffering, except in some limited privacy related complaints
  • Claims more appropriately handled by another body such as the TAC, or a court or tribunal due to the complexity or value of the claim

Personal injury

In some circumstances, we can consider claims for loss caused by personal injury.

Claims for costs associated with personal injury can be very complex and involve amounts of money greater than the Public Transport Ombudsman’s binding decision monetary limits ($5,000 or $10,000 with the consent of the public transport operator). We will only consider claims for actual costs incurred or loss suffered, and not future or ongoing loss.

We will carefully review your claim to ensure we are the most appropriate body to handle your public transport complaint. We may refer you to the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), as no fault compensation may be payable if the injury was as a result of a transport accident involving a public transport service.

What you need to tell us

To help us investigate your public transport complaint, you need to give us:

  • A detailed explanation of your claim, including all relevant dates, times and locations and a description of people involved (where relevant) in case we need to view CCTV footage of the incident
  • A timeline of events can be useful to help us understand the background of your complaint
  • If available, copies of any supporting information you have, such as receipts, tickets, photos, witness statements, medical reports and other correspondence
  • What you are seeking to resolve your complaint, including the amount of the claim. You may need to provide supporting documentation such as receipts and information about insurance payments or other rebates.

How we approach your complaint

We will consider all the information provided by you and the public transport operator when we assess your claim for compensation. This includes:

  • Investigating the link between the operator’s actions and the loss you are claiming
  • Looking at whether there are any laws or codes that exempt the operator from liability, or limit their liability
  • Whether reasonable steps were taken by either party to reduce the loss
  • Whether we have been provided with sufficient information to support the amount of the claim.

If following our investigation we think payment of compensation is appropriate, we will work with you and the operator to reach a fair and reasonable outcome.

Outcomes

Aside from compensation, there are several other outcomes that could be appropriate to resolve your complaint. They include:

  • A detailed explanation
  • An apology
  • Refunds or goodwill payments
  • Changes to operator policies and procedures
  • Public transport operator staff training or counselling

If an agreed outcome cannot be reached, we will look at whether further investigation of your public transport complaint is warranted. We will speak to you about your options at that time.

Authorised Officers

Public transport operators employ Authorised Officers (AOs) to perform a range of functions, including checking tickets, providing information, assistance and customer service and deterring anti-social behaviour. AOs have broad statutory powers to inspect tickets, request a person supply their name and address, report a person for public transport infringements, confiscate tickets, remove a person from public transport infrastructure and to arrest a person.

AOs are authorised by the Department of Transport (the Department). Prospective AOs are vetted by the Department and the public transport operator during the recruitment process and receive specific and ongoing training. AOs are required to abide by the Code of Conduct for Public Transport Authorised Officers (AO Code of Conduct). You can find out more about AO accreditation and training and read the AO Code of Conduct here.

An AO cannot perform their duties unless they have an approved identity card and badge issued by the Department. An AO must show their identity card and badge to any person they intent to report for a fine. They must also show their identity card and/or badge when requested by a passenger.

Authorised Officer complaints

We can look at most public transport staff complaints about AOs, including:

  • Behaviour
  • Failure to check tickets
  • Failure to provide safety/security
  • Customer service
  • Provision of advice/information
  • Privacy and identity verification

If you have a complaint about an issue which is not listed, please contact us and we will tell you whether we can look at it for you.

Our shared jurisdiction with the Victorian Ombudsman

The Public Transport Ombudsman shares jurisdiction for AO complaints with the Victorian Ombudsman. Under the agreement between our offices, we will refer complaints about the following issues to the Victorian Ombudsman:

  • Use of excessive force
  • Unlawful restraint
  • Injury caused by an AO
  • Police involvement other than to verify identification
  • Potential prosecution by the Department following an interaction with an AO.

Complaints referred to the Victorian Ombudsman are recorded in our case management system and are included in our annual reports.

Why we cannot look at complaints about Protective Service Officers

Protective Service Officers (PSOs) provide specialist protective services for the general public at metropolitan and major regional railway stations from 6.00pm until the last train of the evening, seven days a week.

While on duty at train stations, PSOs have several powers, including:

  • Arrest and detain – including arrest for drunk and disorderly offences
  • Search people and property – and seize items such as weapons and alcohol
  • Issue on-the-spot fines (infringement notices) – including for graffiti offences
  • Issue a direction to 'move on' from the area.

PSOs are recruited, trained and employed by Victoria Police. Victoria Police is not a member of the Public Transport Ombudsman scheme therefore we are unable to look at complaints about PSOs.

You can make a complaint about a PSO to:

Victoria Police – The Police Conduct Unit (complaints and compliments), Ethical Standards Department.

Telephone: 1300 363 101

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

New bus stops 

There are three types of complaints we typically receive about bus stops:

  1. A consumer unhappy about the location of a new bus stop
  2. A consumer complaining they were not notified about a new bus stop
  3. A consumer unhappy with the consultation process for a new bus stop

Who can look at bus stop complaints?

We generally can’t look at complaints about bus stops because PTV is authorised by legislation to construct public transport infrastructure. There is no requirement for public consultation or notification in the legislation.

PTV’s process for determining new bus stops

PTV advises that it consults publicly when it creates new bus routes or substantially changes existing bus routes. However, it does not publicly consult on the location of individual bus stops. PTV generally provides written notification of a new bus stop to any property abutting the bus stop.

There are several different factors PTV considers when determining the location of bus stops, including (but not limited to):

  • Input from the relevant bus company and the local road authority;
  • The distance between bus stops;
  • Whether a site is accessible and fit for a bus stop;
  • Whether there is enough space for a bus stopping area;
  • The location of side roads near the bus stop; and
  • Whether other factors such as general site and road geography make the sitea practical location for a bus stop.

Making bus stops accessible

PTV ensures that all new bus stops are compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), except where there are factors outside its control such as a road with a steep gradient. PTV may build a compliant bus stop but it is not accessible because of a lack of surrounding infrastructure such as a footpath. Not all existing bus stops are DDA compliant. PTV is involved in an ongoing project to update existing bus stops to make them DDA compliant.

Making a complaint about a new bus stop

PTV will consider requests from the public to update existing bus stops to make them DDA compliant and more accessible. Consumers should make their request to the PTV Call Centre on 1800 800 007. PTV advises that it may be a process of some months from approval before a bus stop is updated.

Bus stop complaints should be referred to the PTV Call Centre. The Call Centre has information about bus stops and staff will try to resolve the complaint in the first instance. If it cannot be resolved, the complaint will be escalated internally to PTV Customer Feedback.

PTV says that in rare cases, it may agree to move a new bus stop for safety reasons. Consumers with concerns about the safety of a new bus stop should contact the PTV Call Centre and their concerns can be raised with relevant staff at PTV.