Shameful: Public Transport Victoria / Metro Train Inspectors

Over the last two months, I have put in two complaints about this type of intimidation style behaviour by ticket inspectors. I have sent the letters through with no acknowledgment nor response from either Metro or PTV. Yet, here we are again, with this behaviour still rife and unchecked.
Coming off the vline service on the morning of Monday the 25th November, I make my way to the southern end of the platforms to be affronted by a barrier of uniformed members of the PTV. They stood all of seven feet in front of the gates in a fashion that, lacking a better way to describe it, a wall of bullies.  They stood there, mere steps in front of the myki gates, forcing everyone to have to walk around them as they glared in seeming defiance of the right of the passengers to be there.

Now before you ask, yes I had a valid ticket and thus “had nothing to worry about” … in fact, one would ask why the need for this wall was required?

After all, every vline train has active conductors, there are existing gate inspectors already present and the fact remains that one can not exit the platform without using a valid ticket to open the gate.
However, none of this seemed to deter this line of “inspectors” and thus plants the initial question of what indeed they were hoping to achieve at this location?  Was it merely a show of intimidation? Just under a dozen uniformed people stood there. There was no inkling of customer service nor indeed any inkling of service, let alone activity.

As mentioned earlier, this is not the first time this tactic has been utilised. Nor is it the first time I have questioned it via a customer feedback form. About 5 weeks earlier, the same tactic had been deployed and it also seemed to have only the one function – intimidation – a premise enforced when four “officials” surrounded the one poor sod who found his myki card was faulty.

I understand if someone has deliberately made a decision to be a fare evader. However, considering the number of known issues with the cards and the readers, one would expect some leeway and understanding under certain easily verifiable circumstances. Being that the officers in question were loud enough to hear across the walkway, I could ascertain that the four officers surrounded the gentleman and berated him because he should have “made the decision” to miss his train, purchase a new card, add funds to said new card and then request a refund of the existing funds on his old card … even if that meant he had to await another hour for the next train and a fortnight to receive the funds he had on the faulty card?

When did the failure of the technology become the responsibility of the customer? Rather than the ability to retrospectively pay a fare from an existing account on presentation of the card at service desk not five feet away from the gates, it’s apparently not only “appropriate” to issue a fine, but to do so by outright intimidation? This is what we need inspectors for?

In a previous complaint, I made the comment that if  the line was deployed on the etihad stadium footbridge exit – where there are neither gates nor manned inspectors – one could see how this would have made sense. However this was not the case and I return to my initial appraisal that this line affronted me with – this was nothing less than a tactic based on intimidation that would make many a fascist state proud. My next question is just how much money are we wasting on this show de farce?

On the 26th November, I did indeed find these same inspectors on the Northern side upon the Etihad stadium footbridge. Wow, they listened! They were actively doing their job! And active they were, practically breathing down the neck of passengers as they tried to touch off. In fact, my own card misread the first time – and an officer all but commanded me to step over and present ID. I managed to re-present my card to the reader and have it read correctly before he “hurrumphed” and stepped aside. This is NOT why we have or need inspectors.

With a system that has been in the media far too often for the waste of public funds, surely there are better ways to spend our funds?

Personally, I saw twelve people who could have been deployed as on train conductors, checking tickets and assisting those with faulty tickets.

The PTV seems to have forgotten that we, the public, are both the tax-paying owners of the system and that as ticket holding passengers, are also customers.

Upon asking one of these PTV employees what they hoped to achieve by these bullying tactics I was informed Dumb ways to die parady imagethat “we are just standing here sir, how is that intimidating?” and continued to inform me that “if you have a valid ticket then there should be no reason you should feel that way,” and further that “we are simply doing what the government pays us to do, if you know of a better way perhaps you should write and tell them about it”

So, I have scribed my thoughts, thrice now. Add the CCTV footage released this week of a 15 year old girl being shoved, picked up and body-slammed onto concrete by a man three times her size and if now is not the time to lift the game, then when is?

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