Dr Michael Enright had a bad run-in with Authorised Officers over a Myki disagreement. So far, nothing out of the usual. The Myki officers issued a summons seeking to have him fined. The summons was eventually withdrawn, but with a “warning”.
He was offended, and wrote back to them. Here is his letter, which I publish with his permission:
“How dare you write to me in such a braying and patronising manner.
By what authority, moral or legal, do you both withdraw a charge and issue what you claim to be an official warning? If your original charge had been so enforceable, why was it withdrawn? You cite your discretion. I would cite the ineptitude of the system you represent.
Those who preside over the system you represent are engaging in a dance with fantasy, grounded as it is in a perception of infallibility in the face of mounting public and legal pressure to the contrary. I challenged your officers on the day the fine was imposed and stood by this to represent not just myself, but all the other unfortunate, valid myki-carrying card holders who have endured your officers bringing their bullying tactics onto the civilized streets of this city.
I do not recognise your authority or your so-called warning.
You represent a morally bankrupt and largely unenforceable regime characterised by standover tactics, relying as it does on officers employing an instrument of extortion. Apart from being generally dishevelled and unkempt in appearance, your myki officers occupy public places in a manner and with an appearance one would associate with the more unsavoury street gang elements, albeit endowed with powers clearly in excess of their social skills and beyond their capacity to interpret in the immediacy of a situation.
Your system is a disgrace, ignores reasonable argument, and has a press gang air that has no place in Australian twenty-first century society.
I trust that your vile, cruel, bullying, foul and odorous system, those who oversee it and those who seek to enforce it will soon be consigned to their rightful place in a democratic society; the dustbin of the inglorious past.”
How about this for a great night out ruined by PTV. This was sent to me by a person who has only recently returned from Sydney and hit awful strife trying to use Melbourne’s train system. It was supposed to be a good night out, but turned into Nightmare on Public Transport. I have removed all identifying details:
My husband … and I decided on the night of Monday 20th July 2015 to catch public transport into the city where we held tickets to a concert. We have been living in NSW for the past 5 ½ years and this was to be our first excursion on the train since arriving back from Sydney.
In preparation for the trip, that afternoon, [my husband] looked up the Public Transport Victoria website (http://ptv.vic.gov.au/tickets/myki/) to make sure we could indeed purchase a Myki card each at our local train station … With the information from the website we felt confident that it would not be a problem to do so and we walked up from our home to the station. …
At the … station, platform 1, we split off onto a Myki ticket machine each. We both found it hard to work out how to buy a Myki card and I ended up walking over to the machine [my husband] was at (terminal ID 091200214) where we both tried again to work out the system without success. (This machine was later discovered to be faulty, as admitted to me during a phone conversation on 10th August 2015 at 1:34pm.)
Feeling confused and defeated by the system, we walked out of the … station in search of a taxi. Not 20 meters from the station, we turned to one another and said (in regards to the ticket machines)’it can’t be that hard’, and we headed back up to the station to try again. Our movements would be clearly visible on the … station’s CCTV surveillance footage. My husband requested the CCTV footage along with the transaction list/report from the offending machine …
At approximately 6:15pm, we both went back to the same machine (terminal ID 091200214). We clicked through the options to buy a Myki card, the machine asked for money and we put in a $20.00 cash note. The machine took the money and issued us with a receipt for the $20.00 but did not issue a Myki card. We checked to see if a Myki card had been dispensed from the machine and it had not and there was no staff at the … Station to assist us. At this time, the train arrived and we boarded the train thinking that the receipt would be sufficient evidence to prove we had tried to buy the tickets and that we would be able to reconcile the transaction at Flinders Street Station. Please note that we took the receipt that came out of the machine after our transaction was completed, no other receipt. We did not try to purchase a second Myki card due to our problems in trying to purchase the first one. …
Almost as soon as we sat down on the train, we heard the voice of one of the PT officers asking for passengers to show their Myki cards. I immediately thought’thank goodness, we’ll be able to tell them what happened and they will be able to explain what we can do from here’.
Unfortuantely, it is not the way the interaction with the officers went. We explained to Officer 2139 [name] and Officer 2135 [name] what had happened and from the outset 2139 was very hostile toward us. After explaining the problem we had with the ticket machine Officer 2139 told us that he hears a lot of’stories’ and has a very low tolerance for such things. His manner was very accusatory and we felt like we were being treated like criminals. He asked to see the ticket machine receipt that the machine had created for our transaction. This was the first time we noticed that the receipt had the correct transaction amount ($20.00), but the incorrect payment type and time of transaction was wrong too. We paid in cash and the receipt said we used a MasterCard; it also had the incorrect time on it. Officer 2139 further accused us of carrying the wrong receipt and was inferring that we were lying about our transaction and that we had simply picked up a receipt from the machine that another passenger had left behind. He basically told us we were lying and he did not believe us.
I started to get a bit emotional and explained that we were not trying to do the wrong thing, in fact quite the opposite. We were trying to do the right thing by researching how to buy a Myki card on the website before leaving home and by consciously trying to purchase 2 Myki cards at the station. [Both officers] said they needed to write a report on the incident. We asked whether this meant that we were going to be issued with infringement notices, and they said that it was out of their hands once the report was handed in. Officer 2139 then said that we could either wait and see if an infringement notice arrived in the mail or we could pay an on the spot fine of $75.00 each there and then. He was using this as an obvious threat. (ie:’You either pay now, or pay later’). Officer 2139 was essentially using bullying behaviour and stand over tactics to intimidate us.
At this stage I said to Officer 2139,’Regardless of what is happening here, I do not appreciate your tone or the way you are speaking to us. It is very accusatory and offensive’. [Both officers] had by this time finished writing their reports. Officer 2139 turned on his heel and walked off, muttering to himself. …
I turned to Officer 2135 and stated that I was not happy with how we had been treated by Officer 2139 . Officer 2135 apologised for Officer 2139’s rudeness’ (her words) and told me to appeal the infringement if/when it arrived. Officer 2135 then pointed out the 1800 number for complaints and implied that I should call the number.
At Flinders Street station I called 1800 800 007 at 6:35pm and spoke with Andrew to explain what had just happened with the ticket machine and with Officer 2139’s inappropriate behaviour toward my husband and I. I spoke with him for 12 minutes and he gave me a call …
The next day, Tuesday 21st July, I rang the same 1800 number and spoke with Subra for a further 23 minutes at 2:12pm. This second call was to add further detail to my complaint about the incident and Officer 2139’s behaviour on the night before. A few times, Subra tried to tell me that we picked up the wrong receipt from the machine. I said we definitely didn’t. He then said he would ensure we got a refund (his exact words) for the $20.00 spent at ticket machine 214 and gave me a further case number of #…
I received a phone call (from caller ID – 03 8363 4000) on Monday 10th August at 1:34pm. I was surprised to receive a phone call about the matter because I had requested correspondence to be via email. As I was out, I did not get a chance to take down the caller’s name. The lady told me that the machine 214 (terminal ID 091200214) was indeed found to be faulty and that we would be receiving a refund for the $20.00 we put into the Myki machine. She asked if we had since bought another Myki card that she could have the refund credited to. I said we had not used the public transport system since and therefore still do not have a Myki Card. Due to this she asked for our home address and said to expect a cheque in the mail for the $20.00 in the next 14 days. …
On Thursday 20th August, I was then shocked to receive an email from [name] …. stating that after a comprehensive investigation they have found that a Myki card had indeed been dispensed from the machine around the time of our incident and therefore we would not be issued with a refund. To date, we have not been provided with any evidence to prove the machine was not faulty. It is not a very ’just’ system when [my husband] and I have to prove every movement and event during the time in question, yet PTV essentially asks us to take their word that the machine is not faulty with no evidence to support their claim.
After receiving the email, I once again called 1800 800 007 on Thurs 20th August at 1:42pm, this time speaking with Michelle. … I explained what had happened and she seemed to have all of the information at her disposal already, which I was pleased about. I asked her why were we told to expect a refund cheque in the mail if the decision was going to be overturned 10 days later? Wouldn’t it seem more reasonable to finalise the investigation before promising a refund? [my husband] and I are not happy with the resolution of this matter, and so Michelle opened another case file to investigate further (Ref: 032512_340). It is not fair that a decision can be flip flopped in this way, not to mention terribly unprofessional and unreasonable.
[My husband] and I both work freelance jobs and carry around lots of professional gear. This means we drive our cars to our jobs etc. Neither of us has caught the train in Victoria for over 8 years. Although we are not familiar with the PTV systems, we are law-abiding citizens and were really trying to do the right thing. And as it now stands we have been slugged with a combined penalty amount of $446.00 for one train trip.
In conclusion, [my husband] and I work very hard whilst raising our 2 ½ year old daughter. We do not get to go out on ’dates’ together very often due to our hectic family and work schedules. We had planned the evening down to a ’T’, with a babysitter, a train ride and a concert. It was to be a special night to celebrate our move to Melbourne with a very ’Melbourne’ night out. Unfortunately, the public transport system let us down due to a faulty ticket machine, not to mention an overly complex and sub-standard ticketing system. And due to that we were humiliated and bullied in front of a packed train by a very rude and accusatory staff member, Officer 2139, and left feeling very angry and upset for the rest of the evening. It seems that PT Victoria would prefer their passengers to feel guilty until proven innocent instead of the other way around. The incompetent Myki system combined with the surrounding bureaucracy has cost us many hours of our time. …
What on earth does Public Transport Victoria think it is doing? It is acting as if it is above the law.
Here is a story sent in to me by a Melbourne commuter. In short: he had touched on, and was actively prevented from touching off by an Authorised Officer, who then charged him with Fail to produce a valid ticket and Refuse name and address.
Here is his story:
On the morning of March 5th, 2014, I was traveling from my home in Yarraville, to work near Parliament railway station.
I had a valid myki which I touched on when I commenced my journey at Yarraville railway station. I changed trains at Southern Cross in order to get to Parliament station.
On exiting Parliament station, I noticed a larger than usual crowd attempting to exit the station. The crowd was using both the barriers, and the overflow (pedestal only) area.
I chose to exit via the overflow (pedestal only) areas, as there were less people using it than were using the barriers.
A number of Authorised Officers were checking (what I assumed to be) a random selection of travelers.
These Authorised Officer were on the ‘inside’ of the pedestals (that is, on the train side of the world. The Authorised Officers were checking the myki’s of people who were yet to touch off).
As all Authorised Officers were busy, I simply proceeded to the closest available pedestal and attempted to touch off.
Touch Off Interrupted by Authorised Officer
As my hand approached, and was in fact at the pedestal, an Authorised Officer swept my hand away from the pedestal.
The Authorised Officer must have lunged towards me in order to do this, as, when I approached the pedestal, I saw no idle Authorised Officers standing in a position to engage me.
It must be noted that the Authorised Officer actively prevented me from touching off; he interrupted an activity which I had commenced PRIOR TO any interaction by the Authorised Officer.