Thursday, July 14, 2005

Public Transport Digest 14/7/2005

Posted by AmishThrasher at 12:50 pm
Such a world class system
that it's getting canned.
Welcome to a new feature I'm launching on the site: a quick wrap-up of public transport news. First, the good news for anyone who intends on travelling to the airport via public transport: Metlink has announced a Skybus Metcard Trial whereby travellers can buy a '2-in-1' Metcard and Skybuy ticket; a good step forward in public transport integration. Unfortunately these tickets won't be available for Zone 2 or 3, and won't be available on Metcard Machines. Speaking of Metcards, they're going to be replaced with SmartCards as a new Ticketing Company has been announced - more info at the DOI. Cancellations aplenty - Particularly between North Melbourne and Essendon, and Clifton Hill and Macleod. Finally, an interesting blog advocating public transport at Melbourne In Transit. Click through for details and analysis. Welcome to the first Public Transport Digest, where we look through the good, the bad, and the ugly of commuting around Melbourne. This is a new feature for the AmishThrasher, so if you have any thoughts about tweaks I could make to it, feel free to e-mail them across. Let's start off with the good...

The Good
Skybus Metcard Trial
Metlink, in conjunction with Skybus and OneLink, has developed a new ticket aimed at encouraging tourists and travellers to use public transport for travel around Melbourne.

Currently in a three-month trial period, the new Skybus Metcard allows passengers to travel on the Skybus from Melbourne Airport to the city and then within Zone 1 on Melbourne’s public transport network, all on the one ticket.

The Skybus Metcard is a normal Metcard with a Skybus barcode printed on the back and is available from the MetShop (corner of Swanston and Little Collins Streets) and from the Skybus ticket booth at the airport.
During the three-month trial period the Skybus Metcard is available in two forms:
• 2 hour Zone 1 Full Fare Metcard with Adult one-way Skybus         $16.00
• Daily Zone 1 Full-Fare Metcard with Adult one-way Skybus          $18.50
Skybus staff will be collecting anecdotal feedback from customers to determine level of demand for a Zone 1+2 and/or Zone 1+2+3 version of the Skybus Metcard. 

At the completion of the trial, sales and feedback will be analysed to determine the success of the product offer, distribution channels and whether further expansion is required. Skybus staff will be closely monitoring the level of demand for a Zone 1+2 and/or a Zone 1+2+3 version of the Skybus Metcard.


This is great for people who are travelling to the airport. Leaving your car at home and catching public transport to the airport seems like a good option compared to leaving your car in a long-term carpark at the airport. The problem is that the Skybus hasn't been added to the regular Metcard system, and these tickets are unavailable for Zones 2 and 3. Let's hope that these changes get rectified in the near future, and we all get a more useful and better integrated transport system.

Speaking of which, during the week I came across a blog advocating just that at advocating public transport at Melbourne In Transit I might, at some stage during the week, take a better look at that Blog and some of the ideas it raises for improving public transport in Melbourne. Suffice to say, if you have a few minutes, it's worth a look.

The Bad
The bad news is that there are train cancellations aplenty - Particularly between North Melbourne and Essendon between the 21st and 28th, and Clifton Hill and Macleod on the 23rd and 24th. Thankfully there will be busses, but it's going to be a pain for anyone who relies on public transport in the north and northwest over the next few weeks.

The Ugly
Well, at least potentially, anyway. Here's the Metlink Spin:
Tuesday July 12, 2005
Premier Steve Bracks and Transport Minister Peter Batchelor have just announced that Kamco (Keane Australia Micropayment Consortium) has been awarded a $494 million contract following a rigorous nine-month tender and evaluation process led by the Transport Ticketing Authority (TTA).

The TTA and Kamco now finalise contractual arrangements and start the hard work of designing and building a new world class ticketing solution for Victoria.

Completion of this process signals the start of a “business requirements” phase, designed to enable the TTA and Kamco to continue to work closely with transport operators, customers, special interest groups and other key stakeholders to develop the detail of the Victorian smartcard ticketing solution.

There is more spin on this at the DOI. Basically, the Metcard system has been such a 'world class' system that it's being dumped. Instead, we're getting SmartCards, on which you will pre-charge a certain ammount of cash, and the system will 'determine the best ticket for you'. This has the potential to get quite ugly for a number of reasons, however. The most obvious will be the headaches it will cause for many technophobes and elderly users of the public transport system, or occasional users.

It will be interesting to see how well this system handles, say 10x 2 Hour tickets - do you automatically go from (say) having 'used' 2 hour tickets over x days to getting a 10x2 as your use increases, or do these fares simply dissapear from the system? Commuters will need to watch the state of the 'zone' ticketing system and various weekly and monthly tickets to make sure that the new tickets aren't an excuse to eliminate these. Similarly, unless these new ticketing machines have a way of fending of vandals at unattended train stations, I wonder how it will cope with several thousand commuters whose local platform's ticketing machine has been smashed in overnight?

Anyway, that's the good, the bad, and the ugly of public transport this week; feel free to leave your thoughts.