Transit officers and ticket inspectors

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What powers does a transit officer have?

A transit officer is not a police officer, instead, they’re employees of the government who are around to help make things safe for everyone.

If you’re on a bus, train, or ferry and a police officer wants to speak to you, their powers are governed by the ordinary police laws.

A transit officer is allowed to ask for your name and address if they reasonable suspect you’ve done something wrong, you must answer truthfully.

If you don’t answer a transit officer’s questions, or if you lie to them or try to stop them from doing their job, you can be fined.

You can ask to see their official identity card, they must show you. They must also be in uniform.

What sort of things can a transit officer fine me for?

If you break the rules on public transport, you can be fined.

You must always travel with a valid ticket (and concession card if you are only paying the concession fare). A transit officer can ask you to show your ticket and any id, if you fail to you can be fined as much as $243.

Some of things you might be fined for are:

  • damaging the train in any way (for example with graffiti);
  • eating or drinking on a train;
  • placing feet on seat of train;
  • leaving litter in a carriage or on the train tracks;
  • drinking alcohol; and
  • smoking.

To avoid a fine, you should always pay the correct fare and behave politely on public transport.


Can a transit officer arrest me?

If a transit officer witnesses or reasonably suspects that you have committed (or will continue to commit) a detainable offence they may arrest you. The officer may use a level of force that they believe is reasonably necessary to detain you.

The transit officer needs to tell you why you have been detained. They cannot question you, and you have no obligation to make a statement to them.

The transit officer must immediately contact the police, and release you into their custody when they arrive.

A transit officer should only detain a child as a means of last resort.

If you are fined by a transit officer and continue to do the thing that you were fined for, you might be arrested.


Can a transit officer search me?

A transit officer can ask you to remove any outer layers of clothing, like a jacket or coat. A child can’t be asked unless they’re in the company of a responsible adult.

You might also be subjected to a frisk search. You have a right to reasonable privacy. A child can’t be searched unless they’re in the company of a responsible adult.

If a transit officer finds something that might be dangerous to you or someone else, they may seize it to give to the police.


Can I be kicked off public transport?

A transit officer can remove you from a bus or train if they believe you’re creating a disturbance or a nuisance. If you don’t do as they say, you might be fined up to $480.

If you ignore a direction to leave a vehicle or station, a transit officer might arrest you.

What should I do if I think a transit officer has done the wrong thing?

If you believe a transit officer has done the wrong thing, you should make a complaint online here or call Transport & Main Roads on 13 23 80 (between 8am and 5pm, Monday to Friday).

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