About the PTO
The PTO was established in 2004, as a not for profit, independent dispute resolution body, providing a free, fair, informal and accessible service for the resolution of complaints about Victorian public transport operators, who are members of the PTO scheme. We're independent from the transport operators and government. Equally, we do not act as a consumer advocate.
The majority of Victorian public transport operators must participate in the PTO scheme and are called 'members' in our Charter. We can only handle complaints about operators who are members.
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What We Do
We investigate and resolve complaints against public transport operators in Victoria who are part of our scheme. You can see a list of our members here.
If you come to use before you have contacted the relevant public transport operator we will provide you with impartial advice and referral information. However we can only investigate a complaint if the public transport operator has been given an opportunity to resolve it. You can find out about making a complaint to a public transport operator here. We will also try to help you with advice and information if your complaint does not fall within our jurisdiction.
When we investigate your complaint, we work with you and the operator to find a reasonable and fair outcome. We handle complaints independently and promptly, and where an agreement can’t be reached, the Ombudsman has the power to make a binding decision.
We also identify and investigate systemic issues and improvement opportunities, which are issues that affect or have the potential to affect a larger number of consumers. We work with public transport operators to resolve all the issues that are identified. This work prevents complaints arising in the future and contributes to ongoing improvements in Victoria’s public transport services.
The PTO participates in the ongoing public conversation about public transport in Victoria and contributes to Government inquiries into public transport and alternative dispute resolution more widely.
We comply with the Benchmarks for Industry-based Customer Dispute Resolution (the Benchmarks) which were published by the Federal Government in 1997 and reviewed in 2015. The Benchmarks were conceived to encourage best practice in industry-based dispute resolution schemes. The Benchmarks are supported by the Key Practices for Industry-based Customer Dispute Resolution (Key Practices) which sets out practical ways to implement the Benchmarks.
To promote access to the office on an equitable basis.
We make ourselves readily available to consumers by promoting knowledge of our scheme, being easy to use and having no cost barriers.
To ensure that the processes and decisions of the office are objective and unbiased, and are seen to be objective and unbiased.
Our decision making process and the administration of our scheme are independent from members.
To ensure that the office performs its functions in a manner that is fair and is seen to be fair.
Our procedures and decision making are fair and are seen to be fair.
To ensure public confidence in the office and allow assessment and improvement of its performance and that of participating organisations.
We publicly account for our operations by publishing determinations and information about complaints, and reporting systemic issues to members and the relevant authority.
To give the community and participating organisations confidence in the office and to ensure that the office provides value for its funding.
We operate efficiently by keeping track of complaints, ensuring complaints are dealt with by the appropriate process and regularly reviewing our performance.
To promote community confidence in the office and ensure that the office fulfils its role.
We are effective by having an appropriate and comprehensive jurisdiction and periodic independent reviews of our performance.
Who We Are
The PTO is a not for profit company limited by guarantee. We investigate and resolve complaints about Victorian public transport operators. We're independent of government and the public transport industry.
Treasure Jennings is the Public Transport Ombudsman. She joined the PTO in December 2014 and has over 20 years of experience as an adviser and leader in business operations, service delivery and cultural change. Her career experience covers large Australian corporations and small to medium businesses across private sector and government. Treasure holds a postgraduate qualification in Organisational Leadership and is currently completing her Masters of Dispute Resolution.
Treasure is a member of The Australian and New Zealand Ombudsman Association (ANZOA) which is the peak body for Ombudsmen in Australia and New Zealand. For more information about ANZOA, click here.
The PTO Board
The PTO is governed by a Board of consumer and industry representatives with an independent Chair. The responsibilities of the Board include oversight of the PTO Scheme and maintenance of the day to day independence of the Ombudsman. You can find out more about the role and responsibilities of the PTO Board in the PTO Constitution and the PTO Charter.
Kay Rundle – Chair
Bernard Stute – Company Secretary
Glenyys Romanes - Consumer Director
Llewellyn Prain – Consumer Director
Mark Davies – Consumer Director
Chris Lowe – Industry Director (BusVic)
Edward Thomas – Industry Director (Yarra Trams)
Pete Ryan – Industry Director (Metro Trains)
We receive, investigate and resolve complaints from consumers who use or are affected by public passenger transport services in Victoria provided by members of our scheme. We can only investigate a complaint if the public transport operator has had an opportunity to respond to it.
Matters we can look at include:
- Service delivery
- Infrastructure and rolling stock
- Authorised officers
- Penalty fares
- Customer service
- The conduct of operator staff and contractors
This is not a comprehensive list. If you are unsure whether your complaint falls within our jurisdiction please contact us and we will advise you.
The things we can’t look at include matters such as ticket prices, service frequency and free school bus services. We also can’t investigate complaints about the content of Government policy, legislation and codes.
If you have received a ticket infringement notice, we cannot hear your appeal against the fine. However we can provide you with information and advice, and we can look at any related issues that are within our jurisdiction such as customer service complaints.
If your complaint is not within our jurisdiction, we may still be able to help you with information and advice. If we can’t help you, we will try to refer you to someone who can help.
The jurisdiction of the PTO is set out in the PTO Charter.
History of the PTO
The PTO began operating in April 2004, as the Public Transport Industry Ombudsman (Victoria) Limited. In 2006, our name was changed to the Public Transport Ombudsman Limited.
From April 2004, the PTO was operated by Acting Ombudsman Charles Bare, with a temporary staff provided by the State Government. James Hartnett was appointed as the first Public Transport Industry Ombudsman in July 2004 and continued in the role until February 2008. Simon Cohen was then appointed as the second Public Transport Ombudsman in February 2008 and left in August 2010 after accepting the role of Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman. In August 2010, Janine Young was appointed as the third Public Transport Ombudsman. Janine left the PTO in October 2014 to take up the role of Energy and Water Ombudsman NSW.
Treasure Jennings commenced as Public Transport Ombudsman on 8 December 2014.
The PTO has continued to grow and develop since 2004, refining the way we receive, investigate and resolve complaints and pursuing best practice dispute resolution. We have seen large changes to the public transport industry, particularly through the re-franchising process. We continue to respond and adapt to the needs of consumers and the changing public transport landscape in Victoria.
Independent Reviews and Surveys
The operations of the PTO are reviewed every five years by an independent party. The review looks at the effectiveness of the PTO as well our compliance with the Benchmarks.
Independent Review - 2014
The last independent review was undertaken by CameronRalph Navigator in October 2014. The Ombudsman and the Chair of the PTO Board responded to the review. You can read the review report and the PTO response:
Independent Review – 2009
The PTO was independently reviewed by The Navigator Company in April 2009. The Ombudsman and the Chair of the PTO Board responded to the review. You can read the 2009 review report and the PTO response:
Independent Customer Survey
In 2013 the PTO commissioned Buchan Consulting to undertake an independent customer satisfaction survey. In response to the survey, the PTO developed an action plan to address areas for improvement.
The PTO continues to survey consumers who access this office to get feedback and identify improvement opportunities.
Careers at the PTO
The PTO is a not for profit company limited by guarantee. We investigate and resolve complaints about Victorian public transport operators.
We are a small and dedicated team, committed to providing best practice dispute resolution services. The PTO is an equal opportunity employer.
Currently we don’t have any positions available, but we always welcome expressions of interest from people seeking a challenging career in dispute resolution.
If you would like to submit an expression of interest, please send us your resume with a covering letter to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll keep your resume and letter on file for 12 months for consideration when a suitable position becomes available.
Complaints About the PTO
From time to time, the PTO receives complaints about our service. We have an established process for handling complaints from consumers and operators. The following types of complaints may be made to us:
Complaints about Case Handling
When a consumer or operator complains about the way an individual case has been handled by a PTO Officer, it may be reviewed under our Internal Case Handling policy. We ask that the PTO Officer be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint in the first instance, unless the nature of the complaint is serious.
Complaints about the Closure of a Case
Where a consumer is dissatisfied with our decision to close their case on the basis that there is insufficient merit or a fair offer has been made by the operator, they may seek a review of the decision. Grounds for seeking a review may include:
- Error mission in the investigation
- The availability of new information.
Complaints about Jurisdiction
Where a consumer or operator disagrees with our assessment of whether a complaint is within the PTO jurisdiction, they may seek a review of our decision.
Complaints about the Operation of the Scheme
Where a consumer or operator wants to complain about a broad aspect of the scheme's operation, they can lodge a complaint that will be reviewed by the Ombudsman and/or the PTO Board. This does not include concerns about the handling, investigation or finalisation of an individual complaint investigation.
Click on the link to download a pdf file of our Internal Complaint Handling policy.