Australia: Complaints about public transport staff more than double - - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia Complaints about public transport staff more than double

21:50  21 october  2019
21:50  21 october  2019 Source:   theage.com.au

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Complaints about public transport staff have doubled as rolling rail shutdowns to build the state's major transport projects trigger a wave of commuter backlash.

Unprofessional conduct, customer service failings and poor responsiveness to complaints are fuelling the surge in frustration, according to the Public Transport Ombudsman, with public transport staff the top source of commuter complaints.

Complaints about drivers and customer service staff spiked from 886 last financial year to 2035 this year, the watchdog's latest annual report reveals.

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Dissatisfaction with public transport staff overtook service delivery as the top source of complaints this year. However, changes to the way the Ombudsman records staff complaints also played a key role.

Complaints about disruptions and late and mismanaged replacement services rose by 54 per cent to 212 this year.

Ombudsman Treasure Jennings said public transport operators could improve the way they trained and supported their employees, with customer service staff and drivers increasingly relied upon to provide information and assistance during disruptions.

“People who are caught up in unplanned public transport disruptions need to be provided with clear and consistent information about what is going on and their alternative travel options,” Mr Jennings said.

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Many commuters had a particular gripe with drivers, especially those driving buses and coaches, who had to deal with changing road conditions, passenger queries and ticket sales.

Bus and coach driver conduct made up 52 of the 87 driver-related issues investigated by the Ombudsman. Concerns included dangerous driving and failure to pick up or drop off passengers.

Nearly 1300 complaints were also made about myki this year, with commuters complaining about delays in processing  refunds and mobile myki systems.

A government spokesman said more than 600 million trips were taken on public transport last financial year, and while there were only 3600 approaches to the Ombudsman, “there is always room for improvement”.

“Victorians rightly expect our public transport operators to have the best customer service – we expect operators to do all they can to improve passenger experience.”

Public Transport Users Association's spokesman Daniel Bowen said planned shutdowns were now commonplace and commuters expected more from the crowded and slow bus replacement services they were enduring.

"Authorities need to do more to better plan for disruptions, including contingency plans and providing accurate real-time information to staff on the ground and to passengers," he said.

Rail, Tram and Bus Union's secretary Luba Grigorovitch said her members were on the "front line" of rolling disruptions and were under pressure to "help people who are understandably infuriated".

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