Remember these old things? Sold by a real human, as I recall. I found this one in a book I dipped into last week. A book I never finished. Must have been there for six or seven years.
The government announcement the other day of the board for the Public Transport Industry Ombudsman should have been greeted with delight. It’s certainly been a long time coming. But delight has given way to cynicism upon seeing some of the details. It boils down to two points: juristiction and people.
What’s the number one cause of complaint for public transport users, I ask you? “Inspectors!” I hear you cry. “They (or at least some of them) are over-zealous officious annoying twits! Why, that time I forgot to bring change for the tram…” Okay okay, I get the idea.
So, for an ombudsman for public transport this would be bread and butter stuff, right? Wrong! Turns out the PTIO won’t hear complaints about inspectors. Nup, they’ll continue to fall under the auspices of the State Ombudsman, who is simultaneously juggling a zillion other important issues which would normally be considered a higher priority. Like police corruption, for example.
And the people? Well, whereas the working group (who have had some of their key recommendations fall by the wayside) had a mix of transport operators and consumer groups, the inaugural board has three members from transport operators and… uhh… three people who … uhhh… well they’re meant to be consumer representatives… but from reading their brief bios in the press release it’s apparent that they have minimal experience in public transport, and none of them appear to have experience in consumer advocacy. Uhhhhh… So they might be the nicest, most conscientious people in the world, but if they’re facing up against the other three board members from the transport operators, tell me, whom is likely to be running rings around whom?
But maybe I’m being a wee bit cynical. After all, on Sunday the shakeup of the transport operators comes into effect. Should be the dawning of a new age for us users, shouldn’t it?
Or is the truth in fact that nobody will notice except they find their train or tram is painted a new colour? Does anybody really care who runs public transport, as long as it’s frequent, fast, clean, safe and cheap?