The 601 is the most important train-bus connection at Huntingdale. Why is it missing from the signs?

The 601 Monash University express shuttle service runs every four minutes during semester time weekdays. It provides a high-frequency, rapid connection from the station to the university campus.

Thanks to good publicity from the University, it has a high level of awareness among students and staff, and is used for tens of thousands of trips each week — about 4800 each weekday according to a recent survey.

It was originally trialled in 2011 following years of complaints, and given permanent funding in 2012, and has quickly become the most important train-to-bus connection at Huntingdale Station, perhaps the most important in the state.

So, wouldn’t you think they’d bother to put it on the signage leading out of the station?

Huntingdale station: sign to buses

How do they miss this stuff?

(If you’re wondering, it’s not because the 601 doesn’t run every day. The 704 is also a weekday-only route, with shorter operating hours than the 601.)

Hopefully people can find the 601 to Monash via the sign for the 630. They might get caught out if they go to the separate 900 stop, which runs less frequently on weekdays, but does run 7 days-a-week. The fact that it’s a separate stop to the 630 is likely to be a problem on weekends, when people end up having to guess which one will arrive first.

Not everything at Huntingdale is messed up. There are plenty of Myki readers to try and help cope with large numbers of students arriving heading to campus in the morning:

Myki readers, Huntingdale station

And it’s rather good to see the Parkiteer bike cage is well-used, even on a weekend:

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  • Update: Waverley Leader 3/2/2014: Huntingdale bus Link to Monash University let down by poor signage. PTV spokeswoman Andrea Duckworth said the sign would soon be amended but did not say when.
  • Update 15/2/2014: After I posted this blog post, I used the PTV web site to provide feedback. Yesterday they responded:
    I forwarded your feedback on to our Signage area and have been advised that this matter has been addressed.
  • Update 20/2/2014: Sure enough, the sign has been altered — see below — though there’s little else in the way of directional signage to help you find the stop.

Huntingdale station: Signs to the buses

Flashback to 1993

My old uni buddy Brian recently emailed through a copy of a photo from graduation day at Monash Uni, from 1993.

Brian and Daniel on graduation day, 1993

It was at the main Clayton campus, which we rarely actually went to in our student days, though I do recall one memorable session in the campus radio station recording a demo tape of us being comedy DJs with Nick Marvin (then student newspaper editor, now CEO of the Perth Wildcats NBL team) which, to my knowledge, never got broadcast.

Brian and I started uni in 1989. Our degree — Bachelor of Computing (Information Systems) — at Caulfield campus was meant to be three years, but Brian did Honours, and I… uhh… well, I failed a core subject in second year, and thus was a year late finishing. But I got to do some extra electives as a result which taught me some really good stuff I’ve since used in my IT career.

So we both finished in 1992, and by the time graduation day rolled around, we were colleagues, fresh-faced graduates in a small team somewhere inside the machine of corporate Australia, and travelled down to Clayton for the day to put on the gowns and silly hats and get our degrees.

Being the serious young men that we were, in the learned grounds of the campus, we took a few minutes to thoughtfully ponder what the future might hold.

The less serious photo from graduation day

(Thanks to Rae for digging out an old pic and inspiring this post.)

Monash transport FAIL

Monash students going back decades will tell you of the poor connection from Huntingdale Station (the closest for people coming from the city direction) to the Clayton campus. Even after they added an extra bus route in 2006, most connections aren’t timed well outside peak hours, and during peak hours you get delays from long queues and packed buses. This year it’s been so bad the University themselves have funded shuttle buses.

Queue at Huntingdale Station for bus 630 to Monash Uni

It’s made worse by the fact that the two bus routes have their stops to campus at different locations, around the corner from each other, so you get the classic multiple queue conundrum for passengers arriving off the train, and sometimes apparently the queues (which head in opposite directions) even cross each other.

(Other buses from Oakleigh station to campus were, until recently, only able to be used by paying an extra zone 2 fare. This has been fixed, but it’s not clear if anybody’s bothered to tell the local users about it.)

The Clayton campus, like VFL/AFL park, was built there with the idea that a rail connection would be provided along Wellington Road, which was purposefully provided with a nice wide median strip to cope. But like the Eastern Freeway (where the median and overhead bridges were specially designed) it never happened.

What apparently usually happens is that by about mid-year, enough students have given up and bought cars and joined the traffic that the problem dies down for a while, apparently giving the Department of Transport an excuse not to do anything about it.

So in summary you have a bunch of people who want to use PT, but that option is made so hard that they give up and drive instead. More cost to them, more traffic on the roads, more congestion, more pollution. Sustainable transport FAIL.

Up and down like a yoyo

Back in uni, we had a Unix server which (unlike the faculty machines) was available for use by any student. Its name was yoyo, and it was invaluable back when internet access was hard to come by, and official university access was only granted to students studying IT subjects.

Why “yoyo”? There was a hope that it wouldn’t be up and down like a yoyo.

Looks like it’s still around: yoyo.cc.monash.edu.au

Unfortunately, my web hosting has been up and down like a yoyo for the last 30 hours or so. Apparently this was due to a DDOS attack on the web host. The ISP moved accounts over to another host, but delays in the DNS propagation meant for a while some people would see an image of a Lamborghini Wank-5000 (or something) that the server was named after. Most inappropriate, at least for me. They’ve now changed this.

Anyway, this is why my various web sites have been very unreliable for the last day or so. Hopefully things have settled down now.

Update Wednesday night: Turns out this was part of a religious war, a distributed denial-of-service attack on the Athiest Foundation of Australia, which was hosted on the same server, run by Netlogistics.

Up until now, Netlogistics have been pretty good, and the price is good for an Australian-based host. As far as I can tell, NetLogistics did reasonably well with the DDOS attack, with a couple of caveats: the information provided was minimal (I never saw anything on their Network Status page when I looked, though they were quick to reply to enquiries, and their discussion forum was kept up-to-date) and that car image instead of a proper outage message made it looked like the site had been hacked.

Daniel is happy

I’m in an astoundingly good mood today. My week started off really crappily. You know the saga… boring job doing literally nothing… contracted until 21/11… can’t escape early. But no matter, ‘cos I got the most brilliant news last night.

For the first time in the universe’s recorded history, somebody is going to pay me for something I’ve written! No, I don’t mean boring corporate computer programs, I mean a bunch of words arranged together in an apparently witty and amusing combination. Writing.

Yes, bits of mine have been published before… the uni newspaper Naked Wasp (with their shocking page layouts and refusal to have articles delivered electronically), the inaugural Monash Comedy Revue (with it’s terrible "rip the script to shreds, then perform it in such a way that it gets zero laughs" production), and even, would you believe, a needlecraft shop newsletter in Palmerston, NZ!

But for the first time I’m making actual dosh out of it (unless you count the amount of writing I’ve done sitting at work being paid to do nothing.)

It seems like they’ll be paying me a reasonable amount for 830 words. Heck, it only took a couple of hours! Those 830 words will appear in the January issue of a slightly nerdy rag called "Portable Computing Direct Shopper", or something like that. They found me via something I’d written on the Web site. And they want more!

So, while it’s not quite "give up my day job" time, today nothing can get me down. I’m happy, happy, happy.

PS. No you can’t read the article here yet. But look out for the magazine.