If I had that 2.5 minutes again

Morning radio can be very fast-paced. In the case of yesterday morning’s two-and-a-half minutes on Jon Faine’s programme, about railway security, I’d been dashing around, and only had a couple of minutes between hearing their voicemail and being on-air.

Maybe that’s why they call it the “hectic half-hour“. Not sure it excuses me being unable to pronounce the word “represented” though.

Inevitably, seconds after it finished the things I should have said came flooding into my head. Principally:

Yes, putting staff back on stations would cost a lot of money up-front (in the region of tens of millions per year), plus some infrastructure works to get stations (particularly booking offices and toilets) up to scratch… BUT

Against that would be reduced cost in vandalism on stations, which more broadly across the system costs $11 million per year.

…and it would cut the costs of fare evasion, particularly “accidental” fare evasion where people have difficulty buying a ticket because of problems with the machines, and give up.

…and most significantly, it would result in more people using trains (and thus more fare revenue), particularly after dark, when many have safety concerns. Which is the whole point of the discussion, of course.

Far from costing a fortune, overall the exercise would probably come close to revenue neutral. Anyway, the state government has a $38 billion transport plan — in all that somewhere can they not afford to employ a couple of hundred station staff?

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6 Replies to “If I had that 2.5 minutes again”

  1. I caught a train at night last Sunday from an attended station to an unmanned one, and can you guess which one felt less safe?

    The station in question (Ringwood) is already staffed for all services but it keeps a reputation for being unsafe, which is true as the one person in the ticket office does bugger all.

    What would the PTUA propose for this scenario? Nothing? Or to add a ticket office manned full time to the next stop down the line where two people get off, and hope it all goes away?

  2. oh, and to add to that, I like how in Perth they have a booth with a couple of transit guards at each major station who also patrol other locations in the same area (I think they have a car available as well).

    It seems a bit extreme at Perth’s relatively quiet “main” suburban stations, but would that kind of thing work in Melbourne? Just as long as the main priority is for security and not ticket inspecting.

  3. You know we can’t afford to staff stations. That money is so desperately needed for projects that actually deserve high priority funding. These include projects such as the $11 million Cranbourne-Frankston Road Duplication in Langwarrin which are the solution to all our transport woes.

    You do indeed have to wonder, when is the government really going to get serious about public transport? Good on you for lobbying for train station staff. Station staff will definitely improve safety on the rail network and are (at least in my opinion, but I’m sure you and many others will agree) far more useful than for example duplicating the road at Langwarrin.

  4. Oh and by the way, “Somebody” raises a fair point. We might even need security in stations like Dandenong which are already staffed but are still the scene of transit crimes.

  5. Absolutely agree — putting staff isn’t a complete answer to everything. It’s a first step for those stations where there’s nothing.

    Other things to consider depending on the location and the problems would include “designing out crime” (eg laying the stations out so they are well-lit with good sight-lines and there’s nowhere you can lurk without being seen), more CCTV (apparently linking it directly to local police stations works well at some stations), dedicated security or platform staff, and of course looking at wider social issues of why troublemakers might be congregating there in the first place… it’s not always to catch a train!

    I think the jury’s out on playing classical music!

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