Happy birthday Andrew

For his birthday, Andrew asked for a few bloggers to post something on a topic of his choosing. He asked me for:

The time you had such a bad experience on public transport that you rang the minister or one of his minions, or similar.

I had a think about this, and I don’t think I’ve directly had a whinge to a contact about something that only affected me. But I’ve certainly seen and been annoyed by plenty of things which were more systemic problems that needed fixing, and have passed that feedback on.

For instance, my brother-in-law catches the train from Bentleigh to South Yarra (zone 1) but can’t catch the connecting 703 bus to the station without paying a premium because it only accepts zone 2, even though it connects to two zone 1 stations and a zone 1 tram. I’ve raised that and other cases with the fares people.

On New Year’s Morning last year at about 1am I noticed about 30 people waiting at Footscray for the 82 tram, which unlike most others, wasn’t running all night. I called to the people to say it wasn’t running, but they’d heard all trams were. Maybe after an hour or two of waiting they eventually did believe me. That got fed back to the CEOs at Yarra Trams and Metlink: either run all routes all night, or be very very clear about what is and isn’t running.

The lack of bus services in the evening and Sundays, despite shopping hours at the big centres like Chadstone and Southland hampered me for years. With recent upgrades, this has now been mostly resolved, and although they’re infrequent (mostly hourly) you can at least now go shopping at those places on Friday night or Sunday afternoon and not have to deal with the parking.

A friend drives to Epping Station (and sometimes all the way to the city) because the South Morang rail extension still hasn’t been built, despite being promised in 1999. A lot of local residents are up in arms about that. I had them all in mind when I raised that with the (previous) minister one time I ran into him at a function.

And one Sunday morning last year I was with the kids on the train, and it was a short train, and really crowded. Not the first time I’d seen that and complained about it, but this time, I got my camera out to document it, and gave it to Channel 7 the following week.

I blogged about it here, and have followed-up by raising it in meetings with Connex and the government. Connex don’t have a good excuse for it (eg it really is just cost-cutting), and some bureaucrats are quite appalled that this sort of thing occurs, but can do little about it. It’s actually a really good example of why privatisation in its current form doesn’t work. Will keep pushing.

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.

3 replies on “Happy birthday Andrew”

my biggest gripe with the trains is Connex’ requirement that staff must cut out 99% of their brains before starting work. Ask any question of a Customer Service Operator and you’ll always get the first thing that pops out of their head. They are trained to get rid of you – fast.

Yep it’s that time of year, we are back to 3 car trains on weekends again. Last weekend I travelled exclusively on 3 car trains, while not fully loaded, there were quite a few standees through the inner suburbs. On Friday night I noticed 3 car trains running as early as 6:50pm (was an inbound service, but still…). Surely we have reached the point were 6 car running 7 days a week to at least 10pm is necessary.

Not unusual to see 3-car trains at 6:50pm. the Werribee line go to 3-cars from the 6:43pm train from the City onwards.

Others go much later – ie Lilydale/Belgrave after 8:00-8:30pm.

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