This year marks 20 years since the Public Transport Ombudsman (PTO) commenced operations.

We first opened our doors in April 2004, with a remit to resolve complaints about public transport where individuals had been unable to resolve their complaint directly with a public transport operator.

Since then, we’ve helped more than 51,000 Victorians, handled over 31,000 complaints and investigated or conciliated nearly 7,000 cases.

Establishing Ombudsman oversight of public transport was a response to the privatisation of Victorian public transport services in the late 1990s. The PTO was one of many industry Ombudsman schemes that began operating in Australia from the 1980s onwards, as the private sector began operating formerly state-owned essential services like utilities, telecommunications and banking. Ombudsman oversight was recognised as necessary for ensuring operators in these industries met community expectations. 

2004-2024, 20 Years Public Transport Ombudsman

“The decision to establish an Ombudsman for public transport really underscores that public transport is an essential service,” says Victorian Public Transport Ombudsman, Ms Ann Jorgensen.

“For many Victorians, public transport means being able to live more independently, or access social or economic opportunities they wouldn’t otherwise have.”  

The purpose of the PTO, both then and now, was to give Victorians a free, fast and accessible way to resolve disputes with public transport operators and agencies.

In 2004, the PTO had six inaugural scheme members: Metlink, Connex (metropolitan trains franchisee), Metrolink (tram franchisee), V/Line, the Bus Association of Victoria and Southern Cross Station.  We’ve since expanded to 17 members, including agencies responsible for major public transport projects, and multiple bus operators.