PSOs to check tickets, but won’t have #Myki readers? That won’t work.

Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay, talking about deployment of Protective Service Officers on stations:

“From time to time they will check tickets. When these PSOs see a group of young people that they believe are up to no good on a railway station a really helpful tool is to say, ‘Show me your ticket’. If they haven’t got a ticket, off they go,” he said.

He denied they would be equipped with Myki card readers.

— Herald Sun online — Footscray station next stop for PSOs

The problem here is that without Myki readers, there is no way that the PSOs can tell if a Myki card is valid. They can’t tell if it has any credit loaded on it, they can’t tell if it has been touched-on.

PSOs at Flinders Street

PSOs having the ability to do ticket checks does make sense. Chief Commissioner Lay is right; it is a useful tool to help ensure people on a railway station are actually there to catch a train. And given officers will eventually patrol quiet stations with little or no crime, they might as well check tickets.

But a ticket check where you can’t tell if someone is fare-evading or not is not much of a ticket check.

And the requirement for being on a station is not just “a ticket” but “a valid ticket”.

Along with the statistics showing that around half of all assaults on stations occur before 6pm when PSOs won’t be on duty, it’s just another one of these things which suggests to me the PSOs plan has not been properly thought through.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

9 replies on “PSOs to check tickets, but won’t have #Myki readers? That won’t work.”

Whew! As a middle-aged man it’s good to know that PSOs will target “young people that they believe are up to no good”.
So I can be drunk, abusive, urinate on the platform and steal other passengers’ bags but won’t be targeted.
I do admire Ken Lay, but I think he should have chosen his words better.

Well on a small station, they could walk the person to the gate and make them scan their ticket at the reader, couldn’t they? That would move them away from where they were too. Perhaps that’s the intention of this plan.

I’m not sure it’s working that well as it currently stands. I’ve only been checked with a portable Myki reader a couple of times with the more likely scenario a team of inspectors at the station watching people touch off.

I hear the readers only have a few hours’ charge before the batteries run down – is this true?

@Philip, making someone touch their ticket at a reader could potentially touch them off earlier than desired, which in some cases would mean their fare was no longer valid for travel. It’s also pretty clumsy. “Hey guys, could you all come over here and touch your tickets? Okay, thanks, you’re touched-off now, so touch again. Not yet, you’ll have to wait 30 seconds for the timeout period…”

They could ask them to touch at a Myki Check or Vending machine, but it’s still a pretty clumsy way of doing it.

@Andrew, they did have problems with portable reader batteries, but I understand these have been resolved.

I watched the 2012 version of The Tube after your original post about it – the portable Oyster readers they were using were about the same size as my old-skool Nokia. Are the Myki ones similar?

I also found out that you can end up with a negative amount on your Myki and if that happens the card will not activate if you try to charge it up as a Myki pass. What did work was getting a $4 Metcard and using it and then putting some Myki money on it later. Charge and go my arse! Touch my foot up your arse!

Thanks for this information Daniel. I’m doing a media interview with 3CR tomorrow on the breakfast show on PSO powers for ticket offences and your blog was really useful. Victoria Police confirmed that PSOs don’t have Myki readers. This means that you could have a Myki card with a zero balance and not get pulled up by a PSO for not having a ticket. A different story if you have an unvalidated metcard or don’t have a Myk card on you.

It shows that the ticket laws are potentially not being applied to all people equally.

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