Here are some real-life public transport complaints the Public Transport Ombudsman has handled.

We have changed the names of the people who contacted us to protect their privacy.

Pradeep tried to top up his myki at a myki machine at a tram stop. The amount of $126 was debited from his bank account but the money did not go on his myki.

He contacted PTV who looked into his complaint. They told him that he must have inadvertently purchased a new myki. This means that instead of topping up his existing myki he inadvertently purchased a new myki, which was then topped up with $120. Because Pradeep wasn’t aware of this at the time, he didn’t collect the new myki from the machine. PTV were going to look further into his complaint, but he didn’t hear back from them, so he contacted us.

The travel history of the new myki was distinctly different to Pradeep’s usual travel history. It seemed most likely that the new myki had been retrieved from the machine and used by someone else. In those circumstances, PTV agreed to refund Pradeeps’s money. PTV also apologised for not providing Pradeep with a timely response.

PTV arranged to have $126 credited to Pradeep’s myki and the complaint was resolved.

Joanne went to Winchelsea train station to catch a train to Melbourne. At the station there was a notice advising that due to track works, a coach replacement service was operating.

There was no advice as to where the replacement coach would be leaving from, so Joanne went to the coach stop in town and waited there. However the replacement coach did not stop, and drove straight past Joanne. Joanne contacted V/Line and PTV a number of times and then contacted us because she was not happy with the response she received.

We established in our investigation that the replacement service had some coaches stopping all stations and some running express. The coach Joanne saw was an express coach. We confirmed that the notice did not tell people where to wait for the replacement coach or which services were express.

V/Line acknowledged these issues and said that it would ensure that future communications about replacement coach services would tell people where to wait for the replacement coach. V/Line also acknowledged that the information they provided to Joanne had been unclear and was likely to cause confusion.

V/Line offered Joanne a complimentary travel voucher in recognition of the inconvenience and distress she had been caused. She was happy to accept their offer in resolution of her complaint.

In November 2008, the then Public Transport Ombudsman (PTO) made a binding decision to resolve a complaint against V/Line. In the absence of an agreed outcome, the Ombudsman has the power to make a decision that is binding on the public transport operator. A binding decision can be up to the value of $5,000 or $10,000 with the agreement of the operator. This is the only case to date in which the PTO has made a binding decision.

Colin complained to us after he was removed from a V/Line train travelling between Geelong and Melbourne. He was carrying a periodical Metcard (the ticketing system before myki) and a V/Line extension ticket – valid tickets for his travel. When the tickets were checked, the conductor wrongly concluded that the tickets were not valid for Colin’s travel and asked him to leave the train at Werribee station. Colin refused and police were called to remove him from the train. This was not the first time Colin had been removed from a V/Line service while holding valid tickets.

During our investigation, V/Line agreed that the conductor could have handled the matter better, and action was taken to address his conduct. The Ombudsman directed that Colin be provided with a letter from senior V/Line management, confirming his entitlement to travel with a periodical Metcard and V/Line extension ticket. The Ombudsman also recommended that V/Line staff who sell or check tickets be reminded of the entitlement of rail passengers to use extension tickets. This recommendation was implemented by V/Line.

The Ombudsman made a binding decision that required V/Line to pay compensation to Colin of either a 26 week full fare ticket between Melbourne and Geelong, or the equivalent monetary amount ($1245.40). The compensation recognised the hurt and embarrassment Colin was caused, and provided an opportunity for Colin to regain confidence in V/Line train services.

Claudia contacted us in desperation after significant periods of disrupted sleep due to level crossing works directly across the road from her home. From late in the evening until early morning, Claudia heard the noise coming from the level crossing works from generators, large trucks and cranes. Dust and debris were also covering her car and home.

Claudia had contacted the Level Crossing Removal Authority (LXRA) several times and efforts were made to address her complaint by planning to have her house and car cleaned. In addition, Claudia was relocated to alternate accommodation during a period of excessive overnight level crossing removal works. However, when she returned home, the noise and disruption continued through her first night back home. Claudia thought this was unreasonable, so she contacted us with her complaint.

Our investigation found that LXRA had forgotten to tell Claudia that the disruption from ongoing level crossing removal works would continue and that she was still entitled to ongoing relocation and cleaning assistance. As a result of our investigation, LXRA put in place new procedures to prevent this type of oversight occurring in future. LXRA apologised to Claudia and undertook to assess any future cleaning needs on a case by case basis. Claudia was happy with this outcome and we closed the case.

Alia was waiting on the platform at Brighton Beach station to travel into the city. She was with four other adults, her young daughter and an empty pram. The train was stationary long enough for one adult to board the train with her daughter. Alia was immediately behind with the pram, but the doors closed before she could board the train, trapping a pram wheel in the door. She needed help to pull the pram out of the door. This was made more difficult because of the gap between the train and the platform.

Alia said that she was approached by a train station staff member who told her that she had been at fault, that her group should have used two doors to board. Alia says this would not have made any difference as a group of people at the next door had also been left behind. She made a formal complaint to Metro and then contacted our office.

Alia had not yet heard from Metro when she contacted us. However, given the serious nature of her complaint, we decided to refer the matter immediately to Metro Customer Relations as an assisted referral. Under this process, we asked Metro to contact the customer directly to resolve her complaint, and to provide us with a copy of the response. Alia was advised of the process and told that she could contact us again if Metro’s response did not resolve her complaint.

Metro advised us that they contacted Alia and apologised for her family’s experience. Using CCTV footage, Metro confirmed Alia’s version of events and said that the train doors had only been open for 9 seconds. Given the curve of the platform at that station and a pram waiting, this could not be considered long enough. The report had been referred to the Train Driver Manager to take up with the individual driver, so he could learn from the incident. Metro also followed up with the Customer Service Manager to address the customer service issue with train station staff at Brighton Station. Metro advised us that Alia accepted the explanation and the apology to address her complaint. Alia did not contact us again, so we considered the matter resolved.

Lea was travelling home by bus. When she reached her bus stop, the bus driver lowered the bus ramp so she could exit with her wheelchair, but he did not lower the bus itself. Lea contacted the Public Transport Ombudsman and told us that as a result, the ramp was too steep, and she fell out of her wheelchair. Luckily, she wasn’t injured, but her wheelchair was damaged. The bus driver did not apologise, instead he told her that it was her fault and she should have been going slower as she exited the bus.

We began investigating Lea’s complaint and looked at CCTV footage which confirmed Lea’s version of events. We found that the bus company did not have a documented practice to instruct drivers to lower the bus prior to putting out the ramp. The bus company contacted the manufacturer of the bus for advice and was issued with a bulletin on the safe operation of the ramp. The bulletin was then issued to all bus drivers as a procedure they
must all follow.

In response to our investigation, the bus company apologised to Lea for her experience and advised that several steps have been taken to make bus drivers aware of the procedure for using a ramp. Lea advised us that the damage to her wheelchair was repaired without cost. Lea was satisfied with the bus company’s response to her complaint and our investigation was finalised.