Politics and activism


Ye olde paper ticket. Sold by a real human.Remember these old things? Sold by a real human, as I recall. I found this one in a book I dipped into last week. A book I never finished. Must have been there for six or seven years.

The government announcement the other day of the board for the Public Transport Industry Ombudsman should have been greeted with delight. It’s certainly been a long time coming. But delight has given way to cynicism upon seeing some of the details. It boils down to two points: juristiction and people.

What’s the number one cause of complaint for public transport users, I ask you? “Inspectors!” I hear you cry. “They (or at least some of them) are over-zealous officious annoying twits! Why, that time I forgot to bring change for the tram…” Okay okay, I get the idea.

So, for an ombudsman for public transport this would be bread and butter stuff, right? Wrong! Turns out the PTIO won’t hear complaints about inspectors. Nup, they’ll continue to fall under the auspices of the State Ombudsman, who is simultaneously juggling a zillion other important issues which would normally be considered a higher priority. Like police corruption, for example.

And the people? Well, whereas the working group (who have had some of their key recommendations fall by the wayside) had a mix of transport operators and consumer groups, the inaugural board has three members from transport operators and… uhh… three people who … uhhh… well they’re meant to be consumer representatives… but from reading their brief bios in the press release it’s apparent that they have minimal experience in public transport, and none of them appear to have experience in consumer advocacy. Uhhhhh… So they might be the nicest, most conscientious people in the world, but if they’re facing up against the other three board members from the transport operators, tell me, whom is likely to be running rings around whom?

But maybe I’m being a wee bit cynical. After all, on Sunday the shakeup of the transport operators comes into effect. Should be the dawning of a new age for us users, shouldn’t it?

Or is the truth in fact that nobody will notice except they find their train or tram is painted a new colour? Does anybody really care who runs public transport, as long as it’s frequent, fast, clean, safe and cheap?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

4 replies on “Nobbled”

Don’t forget to add accessible to your last sentence. Try living in Rowville. 2 buses every half an hour (infrequent, odd times and odd routes)to get to a train station where you have to wait 15 minutes for a train that takes 45 minutes to the city. All up 1 and a half to 2 hours one way to the city. (not to mention the mess at Melbourne central)

Put it this way – I know of certain *ahem* good employees of the transport companies that weren’t offered a job in the new “metropolitan transport structure” who weren’t over-zealous and who were a service to the travelling public. It is all a bit of a shambles, and you watch it degenerate more so over the coming months. The main reasons the operators are staying in this country is $$, and passengers matter very little in their modus operandi.

I forgot to tell you this the other day when there was a teenage boy got pushed into a path of train and killed. IIRC Tim, one of the PTUA member quote on Herald Sun that that the incident would not happen if the station is staffed, while I agree on that but the incident took place at Mooroolbark, a premium station….

I guess it doesn’t help when most of the time the staff is at the back playing Nintendo…

i still have my very first Melbourne tram ticket… I think it was up elizabeth to the market… such a novelty! much more interesting than something a machine spits out.

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