News State Victoria News Court ruling could overthrow train fines

Court ruling could overthrow train fines

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A landmark court decision in Victoria has threatened the validity of public transport fines in the state.

The previously undisclosed verdict, reported first by The Age, revealed the state’s Myki fines were successfully challenged last year.

Fare evasion officials continued to issue fines, although a new system of on-the-spot fines was introduced after the verdict, which The Age speculated was a response to the decision.

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The case in question involved a Myki user who in 2014 attempted to tap on but was met with a malfunctioning machine. He was told to continue travelling to Flagstaff to buy a new card.

Julian Burnside
Mr Burnside has sworn to fight the Myki prosecutors. Photo: AAP

When the commuter arrived at Flagstaff he explained his situation but was fined.

In court, Magistrate Peter Mealy ruled the man had taken more than necessary actions to travel with a valid ticket and that the system had failed him.

The case could have wide-reaching consequences for the troubled system, which has suffered glitches and blackouts since inception in December 2009.

It could act as a precedent, making it harder for prosecutors to prove fare evasion.

On Tuesday, Melbourne barrister Julian Burnside QC said he had set up a team of young-gun barristers to help fight bogus Myki charges in court, free of charge.

Labelling the Myki system a “standover racket”, Mr Burnside said cases were being dropped by prosecutors despite reasonable excuses being rejected by Public Transport Victoria, a clear sign that something was wrong, he told ABC radio on Tuesday.

In New South Wales, bus drivers have been reporting increasing accounts of Opal card readers breaking down.

The Opal system was introduced in 2012, but in 2014 the system was fully rolled out across all depots, and bus drivers began noticing increased glitches.

The problems have led to late buses and commuters being forced to pay with the old, paper tickets, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

– With AAP

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