Disadvantaged Victorian school students are falling even further behind by skipping school because they can't afford myki top-ups and have no money to pay the fines incurred for riding without a valid travel card, according to a new study.
The joint project between Victoria University and the Sunshine Youth Legal Centre arrived at the findings after noticing more than half the centre's young clients were seeking help to pay for transport fines or applying for valid myki cards with pre-loaded funds.
Su Robertson, Director of Clinical Programs at the VU College of Law and Justice, says she encounters many vulnerable children and young adults - already facing myriad problems - were deliberately missing school because they don't have enough money to pay for public transport.
The Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan, said she would review the study and ask Public Transport Victoria for its advice on the recommendations.
"Public transport plays a key role in social inclusion, particularly for young people," Ms Allan said.
"Current concession fares significantly reduce the cost of travelling for students, but we recognise that, for the most disadvantaged, even a small fare can have a big impact."
Currently, students who are over 16 years of age must apply for a concession card to receive a discount on fares.
The fine for travelling without a valid myki ticket for under-18s is $74 with no discounts available for on-the-spot payments.
Ms Robertson called for a rethink of public transport charges for school children, citing the United Kingdom as a model to replicate, where all children travelling to and from school by public transport did so for free.
She went as far to call the matter a "human rights issue."