I’m running a bit behind in my blogging due to general business.
Here are some pictures from the brand new shiny West Footscray station a few weeks ago.
The platforms seem uncluttered, and there are Passenger Information Displays (PIDs) and a clock, which are becoming the standard now for new stations:
There’s a pretty big car park, in part to make up for the parking lost at Footscray. You can also clearly see the space for the new Regional Rail Link lines which are being added:
There are bike cages as well as car parking, as well as a bike path/ramp from the concourse to the streets on either side. The main concourse/bridge over the tracks is pretty imposing, very visible from the surrounding areas.
Chris Hale from Melbourne Uni presented at the PTUA Annual General Meeting recently. He remarked that Roxburgh Park station looks like a jail.
Although I wouldn’t say it’s beautiful, happily the same can’t be said for West Footscray. At the very least, it’s more colourful, with blocks of green, and areas of wood on the ceiling (apparently to help the acoustics and reduce noise).
Looking east towards Footscray (central) through a tiny hole in the concourse wall, you can see the amount of development that’s going on there:
Minister Mulder’s decision to provide ramps as well as steps and lifts means there’s plenty of choice for getting between the concourse and the platforms. At least if the lifts break down, now there’s an accessible alternative. As you can see from the hoarding, despite having been officially opened, the work wasn’t quite complete when I went through:
All in all, not half bad for what will become a busy station as urban renewal takes hold in the area.
It’s not staffed, apart from PSOs. I would hope and assume that space was set aside for future staff facilities and toilets should they ever be needed — it appears so from the amount of closed-off space on the bridge.
One local I know seems to like it. As an occasional user of the old West Footscray station, I’d say it’s an improvement.
Hopefully future stations will continue to look less like jails and more like a welcoming spot to catch a train.
- Related: Lynbrook station design
I spotted this a while back, but forgot to blog it. It was published by the ABS in October 2012, but it’s still worth noting:
“While the household car is still the preferred method of travel to work for most Australians, the train has overtaken walking as one of the most preferred modes of transport,” Mr Henderson said.
“The proportion of people opting to take the train has increased from 3.4 per cent in 2006 to 3.9 per cent in 2011, putting the train in the top three methods of travel to work.”
Trains being in the top three is pretty amazing given that while walking and driving are more-or-less universally available in every area in Australia (the latter subject to income and ability), travel to work by train is confined to a much smaller proportion of the population.
Of course, driving still dominates because most people have no viable choice — as I’ve said before, if we want more people to choose efficient modes, they have to be given the choice… which, remember, is the sort of investment that what most people want.
Car (driver) 60.2%
Car (passenger) 5.3%
News from London is that they are planning 24-hour Tube services on five lines from 2015 at weekends.
It’s tied to a grand plan which will also see staff taken out of ticket offices (in favour of helping customers more directly, for instance with ticket machines), more Wifi on stations, and contactless bank card (eg Paypass) payments.
All interesting, but let’s focus on the all-night trains.
Running all-night services on weekends only is an interesting balance between meeting big city passenger demand, helping late-night economic growth, and still allowing time for maintenance — which can still happen on weeknights.
Could we do it in Melbourne? Would we do it in Melbourne? Nightrider buses might well be adequate for demand on weeknights (but don’t even run at present), but on weekends (Friday and Saturday nights) are frequently swamped with users. Particularly on the busiest lines, and particularly over summer, trains would cope better with the loads.
Here’s the interesting thing: early planning for all-night weekend trains appears to be already be under way.
For such a thing to happen, there’s any number of factors that would need to be carefully planned — maintenance regimes, rosters for drivers, signalling and support staff, stations, PSOs…
One obvious step is ensuring that any future development on the rail network doesn’t get in the way of it.
The planning for Southland station includes such a clause. In a document obtained via FOI by The Age, the requirements clearly state that the infrastructure should allow for a future timetable with trains running 4:30am to 1am on weekdays, and “Friday 0530 through to Monday 0200″ — in other words, continuous services from Friday morning through to late Sunday night.
It doesn’t mean 24-hour weekend trains will be starting any time soon, nor that they would necessarily run on every line — a more likely initial outcome is the busiest lines only, where Nightriders don’t cope.
But it does appear that the early planning for it is happening now within PTV — ensuring that no new initiatives get in the way of doing it in the future. Great to see it’s on their radar.
Want to see it happen? Then get busy making your voice heard in the media and with your local MP.
For anybody with an NFC (Near Field Contact)-compatible phone (such as my new Google Nexus 5), you can use the this little app — Tag Info Lite to read Myki cards.
Not that it’ll tell you very much — see below. All the actual useful information appears to be encrypted.
Apparently in some parts of the world an unencrypted copy of the card balance/status is also stored, allowing apps that will let you check your balance. For instance Farebot works with cards from Seattle, San Francisco, Singapore, the Netherlands and parts of Japan, and Travel Card Reader looks similar.
Shame Myki doesn’t appear to have this option, not even in PTV’s own apps — though I guess in theory they and/or Keane could do it, given they issue devices to Authorised Officers to do card checks.
With the old Metcards, you could easily see the expiry date(s) as it was printed on the card itself.
This is an opportunity, of course. As more phones include this technology, perhaps a future (hopefully minor) upgrade could allow people to check their card balance or fare expiry in this way.
(Some apps claim to do this with Myki, but what they’re really doing is checking your online account, which is not necessarily up to date — the card is the point of truth.)
Oh, and here’s what I get from a Brisbane Go Card:
The PTV logo is gradually replacing the Metlink and Viclink logos across the public transport network.
It’s just the latest rebranding — remember, some trains and stations have had up to seven different logos in the last 20 years… from the old The Met three-pronged logo, to the newer Met logos, to Hillside/Bayside trains, to Connex/M>Train, then unified all to be Connex, then Metlink/Connex, then Metlink/Metro.
Obviously it all costs money, so hopefully there won’t be any more rebranding in the near future. Could we at least try and go a couple of decades with the current logo?
Unlike the Metlink logos, the PTV ones are much more prominent on vehicles, and for the first time will (eventually) result in common branding for buses. This is not a bad thing — it helps inform and remind people that we actually have one network, rather than a bunch of independent, disparate routes… helped of course if network service planning is done properly.
I was watching a documentary on London Underground the other week, and it remarked that they realised common branding was an important thing back in 1933! We almost got there in the days of The Met in the 80s, but back then, it was only trams, trains and government-owned buses that were in green and yellow. Private buses kept their own colours. This time, they’re included. Here’s a bus run by Transdev (formerly Melbourne Bus Link) spotted last week — at first glance, there is no indication at all of the operating company.
Some people have noted that a lot of passengers use the current differing bus operator colours to easily tell when their bus is coming — unlike trams and trains, buses have for a long time been run by different companies, with different colours.
I suppose passengers will have to start more carefully checking the route number. What would make this easier is if buses consistently had route numbers not just on the front, but also on the side and rear of the vehicle. Some buses have this already, but others don’t. And some front displays are not particularly readable. Improvements can be made.
…documents obtained by the Greens through freedom of information reveal that the positive results did not include many trains that were affected by the knock-on effect of a cancelled or delayed service. Of the 437 trains surveyed, 113 were excluded.
– The Age, Train overcrowding getting worse: Greens
Here’s the thing. Load surveys aren’t measuring overcrowding for the sake of measuring overcrowding.
You don’t hire scores of people to stand on platforms with clipboards to learn that cancellations are bad because they result in crowded trains, and we should avoid cancelling services. That is obvious.
Load surveys are for designing new timetables, to identify where and when extra trains should run. So while some may disagree, I think it’s perfectly sensible for them to exclude cancellations. To not do so would make it impossible to know where services should be added.
By all means they could publish the raw figures, or a version that does include cancellations, but for the primary purpose — service planning — they have to be excluded.
Here is another in my series of old photos from when I first got a digital camera.
M>Train (which came after Bayside trains, and before Connex) had a rather nice livery and logo. Here’s a Comeng train heading towards the city on the outer stretches of the Upfield line. Myself and Peter, another PTUA bod, had gone out there to look at the spot for the proposed Campbellfield Station… still not built.
Do you remember when you could exit straight out of Melbourne Central, up to Swanston Street via a direct escalator, without having to navigate a maze of shops along the way? Ten years ago this month the plans to change it became public.
A 3-car Hitachi train, looking the worse for wear, rolls into Murrumbeena station. I assume the lead cab was normally in the middle of a 6-car set, and years of residue off the pantographs hadn’t been cleaned off properly. Within a year or two, most Hitachi trains would be prematurely scrapped, leading to overcrowded trains as patronage leapt up.
From the (hopefully) easy to change, but quite beneficial department:
What if they ditched the rule that to touch-on a Myki (without an active Pass on it) you need at least 1 cent, and made it zero instead?
Why would they allow touch-on with $0.00? Well…
Myki cards would become a de facto single use ticket: You could touch-on, make a single trip, then touch-off, sending the balance into negative. You’d have to top-up if you wanted to use it again. So a single trip becomes $6 for full fare, $3 concession — in other words, a premium from the typical Z1 2-hour full-fare of $3.50.
(It wouldn’t resolve the problems of no single trip ticket on trams, given no sales on-board, and only a minority of tram stops having vending machines, but would help passengers on trains, and buses — assuming they’re still selling cards on buses; this was done at the start of the year but isn’t mentioned on the official info now.)
It gets around the exact fare top-up problem. It’s incredibly confusing that when buying a new card, you have to top-up with a little bit more than the fare. For instance if you have $3.50 on your card, you can’t use the weekend daily $3.50 fare all day, because it stops working when the card balance falls to zero, which might be as soon as straight after one trip.
It would resolve the free travel on no balance problem which famously resulted in thousands of Seniors Myki cards (valid for free weekend travel in Melbourne) being withdrawn and re-issued with 1 cent of balance. This issue also affects others, for instance those with a full fare Zone 1 Myki Pass trying to travel into zone 2 on weekends (which should be free) have problems if their balance is zero.
People might throw the cards away after one trip. That means wasted cards/lost revenue. How much do cards cost? Not clear, though this web site quotes numerous manufacturers in China supplying MiFare DESFire EV1 cards at under US$1 each if bought in bulk. (Is that legit? Are these unauthorised clone products based on that from the NXP/Mifare people, or do NXP just supply a reference design which anybody can manufacture?)
Cards thrown away may not be too much of a problem though, if people are aware that their subsequent trips are cheaper if they hold onto it.
The card cost will need to stay above the cost of a two zone 2-hour fare (currently $5.92), which probably means a price rise this coming January. But I’d expect it to go up anyway, as currently you can run down the balance to as little as one cent and still make one trip.
Am I missing anything?