What can council elections teach us about aspect ratio?

One of the things you start noticing a lot more when you have two tertiary-level film and television students in the house is aspect ratio.

Local council elections are in October, and posters have started going up for candidates.

In some wards you see full-sized billboards, but in ours — so far — the most prominent posters are small, displayed in shop windows.

Glen Eira council election posters 2016

Not that it’s important, but I can’t help noticing that Oscar Lobo’s picture is the wrong aspect ratio.

I’ve met the guy; he’s often in Centre Road talking to constituents. His head isn’t that spherical, and his torso isn’t that bulky. (Some of his posters have his picture in the correct aspect ratio.)

Some others have been seen out and about.

So, who to vote for?

In many cases, council candidates are relatively uncontroversial. And in our area (Tucker Ward), most candidates are not strongly (publicly) aligned with the major political parties. There are three vacancies, and 14 candidates.

As far as who to vote for, all I can say is:

I’m overall pretty happy with my local council. Most services seem to be run efficiently, facilities are good, and rates are lower than in a lot of other areas. They’ve also tried to do some education on keeping footpaths clear of vehicles and trees, though this could be stepped up with more, and enforcement.

As the Dandenong line skyrail project now seems inevitable, it would be nice to see the council proactively working on how the freed up land beneath the tracks will be used.

I would single out Jamie Hyams (loosely Liberal-aligned). I met him years ago, when he was originally standing for council. He asked what City of Glen Eira could do to help the cause of public transport. One thing I suggested was to join the Metropolitan Transport Forum — at the time, Glen Eira was one of the few councils that were not a member. He said he’d look into it if elected. He was elected, and subsequently they joined. More recently he was mayor when the council unanimously passed a motion accurately pointing out that East West Link will bring little benefit to our area. I’ll vote for him again.

I’m not sure about my other preferences; I’ll consider them closer to voting time as candidates make their views on issues known.

A few days ago, the local newspaper reported stormy council meeting in Glen Eira, Kingston and Frankston. Locals should have a read and judge for themselves how their councillors fared: Glen Eira, Kingston and Frankston council meetings end in chaos

Voting in October

I haven’t checked other areas, but in Glen Eira electoral rolls have already closed, as have nominations. Ballot packs are sent through the mail in early October, and are due back in the mail by the 21st — I assume most council areas are the same.

Is Australia in danger of being swamped by 24-hour time?

24-hour time is common in Europe, and in the airline industry, and the military.

Internally, many industries use 24-hour time, but publicly 12-hour time is dominant in Australia.

I have seen 24-hour time used at cafes. Perhaps they were run by Europeans; perhaps it was an attempt to seem more European.

V/Line uses 24-hour time in most cases, including on their public timetables — they switched back in 2000. Other public transport operators in Victoria use 12-hour time in public.

Except… at the brand new Metro stations… where somehow, they’ve used both on the handy new screens.

As you can see, train departure times are in 12-hour time. But the current time is in 24-hour time. Ingenious!

Bentleigh station - new Passenger Information Display on platform

(Note that in the background, there’s a standalone LED clock showing… 12-hour time.)

Both formats have their advantages. 12-hour is more commonly known, though 24-hour is less ambiguous. But wouldn’t it be better to choose one or the other?

I’d love to know how this happened. Is it some devious plan to get people gradually used to 24-hour time?

Or did someone just not think about how gloriously inconsistent this is?

Update: I’m told it was an error, and the displays will be updated shortly to consistently show 12-hour time.

Update 7pm:

You can judge a station by its cover

Yesterday’s horrific accident at Surrey Hills is a reminder of the many benefits of level crossing removal (though that one is not on the list).

With our local crossing at Bentleigh gone, it’s rather wonderful that the angst of further accidents is gone, and crowds no longer get stuck at the railway gates every second day…

Another benefit is that train users get a brand new shiny station.

But with the wet weather this week we’re able to judge how well that new station deals with the rain.

Bentleigh station concourse entrance

The entrance is pretty good – shelter along the street is reasonably well aligned with the nearby shops. In fact it’s very pleasing to have the station as an integrated part of the streetscape, rather than breaking it up as it used to.

While before there was a long uncovered walkway into the station, now you walk straight into the concourse, and there’s continuous cover down the steps (or in the lift) down to the platform.

And then it falls down.

Bentleigh station in the rain, view from concourse

Bentleigh station in the rain

At McKinnon and Ormond the sections of platform closest to the entrance are under the road, providing a fair degree of cover. There’s more shelter down the platform, though it’s not continuous; there are substantial gaps.

However at Bentleigh, the only cover close to the stairs/lift is fairly small.

There’s a lot more cover at the northern end of the platform, but the only way to get there is to brave a long section of uncovered platform, or the even longer uncovered ramp from the concourse — which in dry conditions is very useful for spreading people along the platform, by the way, far more useful than at the other stations where the ramp doubles back.

So you have the old effect of many people huddling near the entrance from the rain, and thus concentrating on just one or two carriages of a six carriage train — not much better than the old station.

Bentleigh station in the rain

Bentleigh station, June 2015

(All this applies to platforms 1 and 2, which are the most commonly used. Platform 3 seems to have slightly less cover, but nowhere near as many people use it.)

Bentleigh station, view from concourse


Even where the platforms are covered, modern designs mean there’s a gap between the edge of the roof and the train when it arrives. If it’s pouring with rain at the time, you’re still going to get wet.

Bentleigh station in the rain

Why not cover the platforms completely?

If you’re rebuilding the station anyway, it would only be an incremental cost to have rain cover right along the platform.

The benefits are obvious — by providing shelter and shade all the way along, it encourages crowds to spread along the platform, decreasing boarding times, and more evenly distributing people along the train.

It may also help with PM peak alighting times, as in heavy rain, people don’t pause in the train doorway to find their umbrella. It would also reduce the instances of people running on slippery surfaces to avoid the rain.

It’s helped at Richmond, where full platform shelters were retrofitted (at a cost of $7.28 million), and is provided at our busiest stations Southern Cross and Flinders Street.

Granted, no suburban station is that busy, but if the benefits are numerous and the cost is minimal, then why not?

  • PTUA called for all-over platform cover on the Dandenong line “sky rail” stations — as well as for all to be upgraded to Premium status

Old photos from September 2006

Another in my series of ten year old photos… September 2006.

Most of my photos this month were snapped with my phone camera of the time, the Nokia 6230i. Not bad for 2006, but a bit grainy by today’s standards.

Richmond station, before we got the all-over platform cover. Other than that in some ways it hasn’t changed a great deal.
Richmond station, September 2006

A sighting of the Myki truck, at Birrarung Marr near the Tennis Centre. The smartcard project had been running for a couple of years, but this was when they unveiled the name “Myki”.
Myki truck, September 2006

Here are a couple of grabs from Channel 9 (7/9/2006), with then Transport Minister Peter Batchelor launching Myki. It was said to be planned for operation in 2007 (this actually occurred in 2009), with full implementation in 2008 (actually 2013).
Myki launch September 2006 (Channel 9)

And who’s this youthful looking bloke rambling on about the importance of staff alongside automated tickets? He looks a bit like me, but with less grey hair.
Commenting for PTUA at the Myki launch, September 2006

The Manchester Unity Building, with Burke and Wills looking on. This view has barely changed.
Manchester Unity Building, September 2006

Before there were tram platform superstops across the CBD, there were just “safety” zones. This is Flinders Street, eastbound at Elizabeth Street.
Flinders Street at Elizabeth Street tram stop, September 2006

Nearby, the Flinders Street Station centre entrance. Unstaffed and one gate left open, as was common in those days (and is still common at suburban stations).
Flinders Street Station, Centre entrance, September 2006

An old (even then) 404 bus timetable in Footscray, in one of those ancient “The Met” timetable cases. I’d assume this was from the 1980s. Note the bus was every 20 minutes on Saturday mornings back then. Now it’s every 40 minutes.
404 Bus timetable, Footscray, September 2006

Roller coaster rail?

On Tuesday the Level Crossing Removal Authority put out a whole raft of information on options for removal of crossings on the southern end of the Frankston line. If you have any interest at all, particularly if you’re a local, they’re definitely worth a look.

The Opposition’s withering response:

“The controversial ‘Sky Rail’ monstrosity on the Pakenham line has been dumped by Daniel Andrews for a ‘Roller Coaster Rail’ on the Frankston line.

“The Big Dipper belongs at Luna Park, not on the Frankston line.”

David Davis reported in the Herald Sun.

Three things on this:

1. The Big Dipper at Luna Park closed and was demolished in 1988. (The remaining original wooden roller coaster is the Scenic Railway.)

2. Unless there’s an extended section of elevated rail or trench, you do end up with rail lines going up and down like a roller coaster. It’s inevitable.

Extended sections of elevated rail between crossings are clearly not what the Opposition want, because that’s “sky rail”, which they’ve decided is evil (or at least, a chink in the Andrews Government’s political armour).

Extended sections of trench are impossibly complex and expensive and disruptive to build. The longer the trench, the more underground services have to be moved, and this takes a lot of time and money to do properly.

The three level crossings recently grade separated at Ormond-Mckinnon-Bentleigh are in relatively close proximity to each other, but between each, the rail line comes back up to ground level because it wasn’t practical to do it any other way. For instance between Ormond and Mckinnon there’s a massive storm water pipe (at Murray Road) just below ground level, so the rail line goes over it.

As shown in this video, and the top photo (snapped from Bentleigh, looking towards McKinnon), the ups and downs are very visible.

But — despite suspicions from myself and others that it would feel like a roller coaster, it really doesn’t when you’re on the train, thanks to only very slight grades (typically no more than 2%) and the natural topography of the area.

(Heading north out of Ormond is slightly steeper, and is more noticeable. This was done to preserve the Dorothy Avenue underpass, which is also part of the old Rosstown Railway line.)

This sort of thing happens all over the place without anybody noticing — except perhaps the train drivers.

Riding the trains, you might think it’s flat from Caulfield to Malvern… but it’s not:

Looking towards Melbourne, from Caulfield station platform 1

If this is “roller coaster rail”, then we’ve already got it, lots of it.

Finally, something to always keep in mind whenever a politician opens their mouth:

3. This is the Opposition doing what Oppositions do; criticising government no matter what.

In this case the options documents that have been published are a really good step to help locals understand the design decisions to be made, and the trade-offs of each method.

In fact, it’s not hard to argue that this sort of information should have been provided on all the crossings before designs were finalised.