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, tram 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, 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.

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

If you break the rules on public transport, you can be fined. If you are fined you will receive an infringement notice that describes the offence you are alleged to have committed. You could be fined as much as $200, or substantially more if you are charged or fail to pay within 28 days and go to court.

Some of things you might be fined for are:

  • using a concession ticket without a valid concession card or student ID card;
  • failing to show your ticket, student ID card or concession card when asked;
  • refusing to hand over an invalid ticket;
  • blocking the path or creating a nuisance, including swearing;
  • throwing things out of a bus;
  • graffiti;
  • littering;
  • carry dangerous or offensive objects on board; and
  • climbing through windows or opening locked doors.

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 acted in a way that is insulting or threatening, or if you are trespassing or damaging property, including with graffiti, then they will take you a police station to be dealt with by the police.

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 may search you if they have placed you under arrest and use any reasonable force necessary to take any dangerous items off you (like explosives, firearms, syringes or graffiti instruments).

You may also be stopped and searched if a transit officer reasonable suspects you to be in possession of something you’re not allowed on public transport.

You may only be searched by someone who is the same gender as you. If there are no officers of your gender available, the officer might direct a nearby person who is the same gender as you to conduct the search. A transit officer is never allowed to perform a cavity search.

If the transit officer finds something on you that you shouldn’t have, they may seize it. If they do, they must record that they have taken it, and what they do with it. Under some circumstances you might be able to get the item back.

Can I be kicked off public transport?

A transit officer can remove you from a bus, train or tram if they believe you’re behaving in an offensive or disorderly way. If you don’t do as they say, they are allowed to use reasonable force to remove you.

You may also be banned from using public transport if you’re found guilty of something like assault or vandalism more than once in a 12 month period. The length of the ban will depend on how many offences you’ve committed. If you continue to use public transport after being banned, you might be sent to prison.

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 them on 13 62 13.

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