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Complaints about ticket inspectors on Victorian public transport have surged 60 per cent in 12 months, while myki ticketing problems remain the biggest commuter frustration.
More than 4300 angry commuters lodged a formal complaint with the Public Transport Ombudsman during the financial year, up from 3555 in 2011-12.
Myki-related issues made up almost 40 per cent of them.
Commuters lodged 2710 complaints about myki, to do with faulty cards and machines, refunds, replacement, compensation and information, up from 2319.
But among the sharpest rises were complaints related to ticket inspectors' behaviour and conduct.
Complaints about authorised officers soared to 220 in the 2013 financial year, up from 138 a year earlier.
The Ombudsman's annual report said the complaints included allegations about inspectors' demeanour, discretion, unreasonable force, and exceeding their authority.
Public Transport Victoria spokesman Adrian Darwent said many commuters often contacted the Ombudsman without giving PTV a chance to handle their complaints.
He said it was a positive sign that the Ombudsman had investigated 41 more myki cases than the previous financial year, given more than 500,000 extra customers were using myki on at least a weekly basis.
"The PTV call centre receives on average 8000 calls per week about myki, or more than 400,000 over a year, with only 0.14 per cent resulting in a call to the Ombudsman," he said.
"In the context of a significant increase in myki use, the number of [ombudsman] investigations has trended downward significantly."
Mr Darwent said PTV had worked with the Ombudsman to improve customer service, such as introducing on-the-spot card replacements and providing better information.
Public Transport Ombudsman Janine Young said it was important not to only focus only on the fact myki made up the largest proportion of cases.
“We should not lose sight of some other very important areas that cause complaints," she said.
"All operators and the industry as a whole must continue to look at ways they can improve the services they provide including accessibility and customer service."
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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