I was pondering awareness of a couple of things, so decided to try a quick online survey. Over about 24 hours it got just over 100 responses… unfortunately unless I pay SurveyMonkey $19 per month, they’ll only tell me about the first 100. I think I’ll just go with those for now. (Some people didn’t respond to questions, which is why the totals add up to 98.)
This seems to show that while most are aware of it, some still aren’t, despite having been available in various forms since April 2005 — over 8 years. At $3.50 for all-day travel in zones 1+2, it’s a bit of a bargain, and while price isn’t everything, where the services are half-decent, it can encourage more people to use PT on weekends.
Secondly, the ten minute services that have been running for about a year:
I didn’t ask where people are from or where they travel, but it seems few are aware that on the three longest & busiest lines there’s now a pretty damn good weekend service frequency.
What these responses say to me is that PTV are still lacking when it comes to promotion.
Cheap fares, and trains every ten minutes on the three busiest lines? They should be promoting the hell out of this.
As I’ve said before, weekend train services are now better than they’ve ever been, but there’s been hardly any promotion, and what there has been has been so vague as to be pointless.
If we’re going to see frequent services on all lines, every day, demonstrable growth in patronage on these first ones needs to be shown. For that to happen, they have to be promoted properly.
PTV is meant to be promoting public transport. They do so, but in promoting these two key messages, they don’t appear to be kicking goals.
A few other good things that are not well promoted
Touch-on Myki at the station then find trains aren’t running? Touch-off again between 30 secs and 15 mins later; you won’t get charged.
No time (or no facility) to top-up your Myki Money? As long it’s 1 cent or more, you can make one trip and top-up later.
The Huntingdale station to Monash Uni 601 shuttle runs every 4 mins 7am-7pm weekdays (then every 12 mins to 9:30pm)
The North Melbourne station to University/Hospital Precinct 401 shuttle runs every 3-6 minutes 6:45am-7:30pm weekdays.
A lot of the unfortunate jellybean characters are depicted around CBD railway stations at the moment as part of Metro’s Dumb Ways To Die campaign. I was amused at the placement of this one:
…but this one is even better. (Only a short video — don’t bother with the sound; it adds nothing.)
Perhaps I’m easily amused, but that did make me laugh. Very clever.
Noted at Flinders Street Station the other week, on one of those automatic rotating advertisement things: competing ads for Myki.
(The third ad in the sequence was not Myki-related… after that it flipped back and repeated the two above.)
It’ll be interesting to see if these types of adverts encourage people to use off-system top-ups such as at 7-Eleven, and/or auto-topup (which works quite well for Myki Money users, and is literally a “set and forget” system — once set up, this too is instant).
If you improve a product, and want it to sell well, you need to make people aware of it.
When they launched trains every 10 minutes between the City and Ringwood, Dandenong and Frankston last year on weekends, there was an initial bit of publicity via the media, but very little else.
Metro did some advertising via MX and billboards which was incredibly vague:
Witty? Perhaps. But what does it tell you? It could mean anything. And it implies the boost is on Sundays only.
Even now, while the excellent Dumb Ways To Die campaign has gained a lot of awareness, as far as other promotion goes, they’ve reverted to non-specific advertising:
It might build brand awareness, and hint at the idea that people should consider PT for travel everyday, not just to and from work/school, but does nothing to tell you that, actually, weekend train services are better than they’ve ever been — and let’s face it, that’s what’s going to get people on board.
While those who know have started using ten minute trains more (and loving it), and it’s relieved the crowding, a lot of people are completely unaware that Melbourne’s three busiest rail lines have such a frequent weekend service.
The problem was brought home to me a couple of years ago (before the latest upgrade) when my stepfather said that he wished they’d improve Sunday (daytime) train timetables from running every 40 minutes. In reality on his line they haven’t run every 40 minutes since 1996. In that year they changed to every 30, then to every 20 in 1999. He had been thoroughly discouraged from using trains on Sundays many years ago, and hadn’t heard they’d improved.
Many people are also unaware that you’ll pay a maximum of $3.50 per day on weekends and public holidays to travel anywhere around Melbourne.
There are good examples in the not too distant past of targeted, clear promotion that gets the message across. Here’s a local newspaper advert from 1992:
With Melbourne’ CBD booming on weekends, and inner-city traffic and parking often causing hassles, fast frequent trains have real potential to help people get around Melbourne.
Not every line runs frequently, but if we’re going to see that happen, the ones that do need to be successful. Proper, clear promotion is vital to help make it so.
- Some operators DO know how to advertise frequent services
- Pondering: Why aren’t MetroTrains promoting the hell out of their ten minute services?
- Preaching to the converted — train advertising to existing users, and how patronage is expected to double in ten years
One of the chemists in Bentleigh is renovating, and this old signage has been revealed — soon to be covered up with something new. Apparently they used to sell stuff called “film” from a company called “Kodak”.
The windows have also shown up some old ads. Anybody care to estimate how old they might be?
Evidently “Beyond 2000” finished in 1999.
What is cross linked elastin cream, anyway?
The sign on the top of the shop might be a good submission for Our Fading Past.
This train is rolling around with advertising for Sportingbet plastered all over it.
It provoked this letter in The Age yesterday:
THERE’S much disapproval of the AFL regarding the promotion of gambling to minors during game time. I eagerly await seeing equal concern at the state subsidised rail system, which now has an entire train painted with a betting slogan. Who catches trains to school? Minors. At least matches on TV can be switched off.
Can we please dismiss this valueless economic model of marketing everything everywhere all the time and rediscover executives who regard themselves as pillars of the community. They would lead by example and really understand the concept of choice – such as the right not to be subjected to advertising in public spaces and the right of the community over that of shareholders.
David Cathie, Mordialloc
I’m unsure about this. Where does one draw the line? Do we also ban ads for MA-rated video games, MA and R-rated movies, booze, novels aimed at adults, theatre performances with adult themes, anything else marketed at adults that we don’t want children to use…? Dunno.
The other issue I’m interested in is the visibility through the windows. I haven’t seen it from inside, but certainly from outside you can’t see anything. This reduces safety by going against CPTED (Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design) principles, particularly that of natural surveillance:
Natural surveillance increases the threat of apprehension by taking steps to increase the perception that people can be seen. Natural surveillance occurs by designing the placement of physical features, activities and people in such a way as to maximize visibility and foster positive social interaction among legitimate users of private and public space. Potential offenders feel increased scrutiny and limitations on their escape routes.
In general I have no problem with advertising on public transport if it’s unobtrusive — the revenue helps subsidise the system and fund improvements. But advertising that completely covers windows, reducing visibility is not welcome.
Observed at Southern Cross Station this week: IKEA seat covers.
They seem to be confined to platforms 11 and 12, though if you’re trying to get to IKEA by public transport, platform 9 (train to North Richmond, then a tram) is probably a better bet.
Not every seat has them, and there are no cushions underneath the covers — just bare metal. Maybe I missed it, but I didn’t spot any specific posters or signage for IKEA, apart from the logo.
At least it’s not potentially misleading like the Red Rooster destination screens, or blocking useful information like the ads at the Bourke Street entrance — or indeed blocking your way in and out of the station.
From what I’ve heard, the campaign was originally quite successful, but started to wear off after a few months, so I guess they need to keep revamping it to continue to get the message across.