Consumerism transport

Spot the difference – transport advertising in the lead-up to elections

I was thinking the government ads about transport upgrades back in 2009-10 (Labor) are pretty similar to 2014 (Coalition).

How would it be if I got them both and dubbed the audio of one over the video of another?

The 2010 version is mostly about trains; the 2014 one has been chopped a tad to remove around 15 seconds that was about East West Link. But it’s surprising how well they fit. (The full unedited versions are shown below.)

This time around, Channel 7 reports ads like this have cost at least $3.2 million so far.

Comparing 2010 to 2014

Let’s play a little game of Spot The Difference.

2009-2010 – Labor 2013-2014 – Coalition
Advert for new Smartbus route 903
Advert for a measly 6 extra services on bus route 630
Nice placement: Advertising, Cheltenham station
Victorian Transport Plan advertising, December 2009
Myki billboard advertising, February 2014
Bayside Rail Imorovements poster, Bentleigh, February 2014 (cropped)
Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the ad campaign should now be considered “electioneering” and withdrawn immediately. He vowed to cut advertising spending in the transport portfolio if the Coalition won government in November. “If I’m the transport minister, the money I have available to me will be going into nuts and bolts business, not self-promotion,” he said.

The Age, 1/9/2010

Rather than invest in public transport Napthine Govt invests in advertising 2 tell us how good it is. But you can’t spin lived experience!
Jill Hennessy, Labor Public Transport Spokesperson, 28/2/2014, Twitter

Denis Napthine will fight for his survival with the last dollar of your money #springst
Martin Pakula, Labor Spokesperson for Scrutiny of Government, and Transport Minister 2010, 1/3/2014, Twitter

Is advertising ever justified?

Yes, sure it is. Public transport is a product which competes against other modes of travel, particularly cars.

But it the ads should be informative, or at the very least should tell you why (even at a high level) you should be using the product.

Some of the ads have been informative at some level. From the sample above (and it is only a sample), Labor’s newspaper ads and the Coalition’s billboard/noticeboard ads have some level of useful information in them.

Amazingly, none of the Coalition’s ads spell out a huge improvement they’ve delivered in the last couple of years, but almost totally failed to promote: frequent weekend trains on much of the network.

And the TV ads in particular, placed by both sides of politics over the years, tell you very little — they seem purely design to try and convince you that your Government is doing Good Things with your money.

Update 13/8/2014: The video mashup features in this Age story today: State transport ad campaign costs mount

It’s worth noting that from comparing these ads, while the current Coalition campaign promotes a lot of projects that are years away from completion (and in some cases haven’t been fully funded yet), most of the Labor campaign from 2010 focussed on projects which were then at the delivery stage, or at least were fully funded.

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.

10 replies on “Spot the difference – transport advertising in the lead-up to elections”

Great comparison. Thanks for that. Yes, very curious that Government is not promoting frequent trains on Frankston line since there were 3 seats along that line that swung to the Coalition last election to get them in government. So why not publicise it?

The Dandenong line is also due to get 10 minute weekday services at the next timetable change during the year. That would be a perfect time to advertise the frequency increases.

They are also due to remove the Frankston and Sandringham lines from the city loop on weekends in the upcoming changes., so it will remain a cross city service all week.,

Are they also removing the Newport lines from the loop on week-ends? With a 10 minute frequency to Newport?

Does that ad say that the X’Traps are the fastest trains on the network? The same ones that are limited to 90km/h? They’re the fastest in a sprint but would be mauled in a marathon.

frankston/sandringham/werribee will be removed from loop on weekends and operate as it does on weekdays

“Using gerunds inappropriately”. Victoria.

The myki top-up billboard, which I’d seen from a train before I saw it here, is almost appropriate. I say “almost”, because it doesn’t tell me whether they fixed the bug that was the reason I don’t use it (the one where your credit card expires and the card is blocked even though it has a positive balance). Of course it might require some humility from the PTV to write in huge letters “We’ve fixed the credit card block bug.”

The “free trial” of route 903 just compounds matters: money spent on promotion, and money forgone from the farebox. The bus is either needed or it isn’t (in my observation at the Mentone end, it isn’t.) It isn’t the role of government to stimulate demand for a service running at a loss.

Money spenf on political advertising like this should be retrospectively paid back by levying the persons who were members of the political party in power at the time. I would go back to Bracks, when it first started to get out of hand. It makes my blood boil that they are so blatant about it.

So that is a yes to 10 minute services to Newport then?

They will have to update their 10 minute frequency on the weekend ads. With Newport and Dandenong getting 10 minute services on weekdays, they could run weekday 10 minute service ads as well.

HA! X’Trapolis, or should I say X’Crapolis trains are the slowest, even the Hitatchi trains have a maximum speed of 113km/h whilst X”craps are limited to 90km from their Maximum of 148km/h, THATS 58KM SLOWER! The Seimens train would be the fastest with the maximum being 148km/h, Max operating 130km/h and limited to 115km/h, plus they’re MUCH more comfortable. (A train driver I know said it was because the X’Traps are lighter and they also have spring suspension) I wonder if the Pakenham line gets a speed increase to 130km/h to cut travel times.

Interesting comparison. The Libs went to the last election with a lot of promises but haven’t delivered much, and the absence of their proposed “quick wins” like the Southland train station is glaring.

On another note, these PT ads aren’t nearly as on the nose as the awful Speed Camera Urban Myths ad running at present ( It’s like the government have given up on asking people to adhere to speed limits and are instead pushing positive PR for the cameras!

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