PTUA transport

One month of Myki

COMMUTERS are ignoring Government advice and are using myki cards on trams as well as trains.

(Jean Ker Walsh said) ”Myki equipment on trams is turned on for use by testers and system auditors,” she said. ”Everyone else on the tram should have a valid Metcard.”

The Age, Caution urged for travellers who take the myki on trams

Myki scanner out of serviceThe Myki scanners on the trams (those that work, anyway; I saw lots yesterday that aren’t) are sitting there like everything’s fully functioning, asking you to touch your card.

How about if they said “Testing only” or “Valid for authorised testers only”? How else are people meant to know? Or even notices on the trams that say so? Would that be so hard?

MYKI has been in operation for a month and the verdict is to keep using Metcard for as long as you can.

The Public Transport Users Association has advised commuters to stick with the old system until all myki’s bugs are ironed out.

Herald Sun, Caution urged on myki use

Too right.

I know some people are using it and like it. And I think on trains, it’s probably 90% there.

But there are enough problems with station gates being slow or unresponsive that it would cause utter chaos if everybody was using it.

Not to mention the problems with over-charging, or most seriously, payments through the web site just completely going missing.

One of my neighbours summed it up best when he said to me that he paid money in and it just vanished. He rang the call centre.

“Yes, we’ve heard of a lot of problems like this.”

“… And? What are you going to do about it?”

They didn’t know.

Apart from the system faults, even basic stuff, like putting a Myki machine in every station, hasn’t been done.

The many Metcard machines of Frankston stationI was at Frankston station on Monday. One of the busiest suburban stations, it has five Metcard machines, and NO Myki machine. Even if space was a problem, why on earth couldn’t they have taken a single Metcard machine out so there was at least one Myki machine?

“We are continuing to advise passengers not to use Myki, but to stick to Metcard instead. By all means get a Myki card while they’re offered for free, but stick it in the drawer for a few months until the system works properly”

PTUA, Month-long Myki muddle — New system’s many problems

That page has a long list of problems found in just the first month of operation in Melbourne.

Like I’ve said before: Don’t use it unless you’re looking for trouble. And whatever you do, do NOT pay any money into the web site.



Was watching an email list discussion about imperial vs metric.

I’m young enough that all I learnt at school was metric, but most of the adults around me (such as my parents) were more familiar with imperial, and some of it rubbed off and entered my knowledge and vocabulary.

So I do know that an adult male is about 6 feet tall. That railway lines (in Victoria) are 5 foot 3 wide.

Computer monitors I know in inches, and some TVs, but I can’t quite grasp how much smaller my 19 inch computer monitor is compared to my old 68 cm TV.

Airlines refer to altitude in feet and yards, but otherwise all long distances to me are metric. The only reason I know about miles is that they are roughly 1.4 1.6 kilometres, and a yard is just under a metre.

The weight of newborn babies still seem to be more commonly referred to in pounds, but I have no concept of imperial weights apart from that; it’s all grams and kilograms.

music Working life

The Loud list

At work I have a “Loud” play list, for when things are noisy in the office and I need to concentrate on something.

Loudness helps, but an all-encompassing sound is even better for when I need to drown out other noise.

Most artists in my collection have at least a few loud songs, but some which have more than others and are more prominent on the list, such as:

The Living End
Led Zeppelin
Spiderbait, obviously
Hoodoo Gurus, especially their live album
Ocean Colour Scene
Green Day

Who else would be good?



See also: 2015 update

Just so we’re clear here about which type of train is which, here’s a quick guide…

Firstly, this is the train that’s in the news today: the Siemens. Their brakes have problems. (Update 2012: The brake problems have apparently been fixed.)
Siemens train at Glenhuntly

Whereas this is the Comeng. Their air-conditioners tend to konk out above 35 degrees. (Update 2012: The air-con has been fixed.)
Comeng train at Glenhuntly

This is the X’Trapolis, about which the Rail Tram and Bus Union recently said: ”You get what you pay for, and they did: these trains are cheap and nasty overseas shit and drivers aren’t happy with them.”
X'trapolis train at Richmond

And finally, this is a Hitachi, from the 70s. They don’t have any air-con, and they also don’t have CCTV or passenger intercoms. The good news is they are known for being very reliable. The bad news is most of them got scrapped, so there’s only half-a-dozen left, which is why we’ve got such a shortage of trains now. (Update 2014: These trains are now out of service.)
Hitachi train at Bentleigh

See also: 2015 update

Culture transport

Happy birthday, Flinders Street Station

The current Flinders Street Station is 100 years old today.

Flinders Street Station

Flinders Street Station as seen from Fed Square

Flinders Street Station - to platform 9

Rush hour at Flinders Street

There’s a newish book on the history of Flinders Street Station called Beyond the Facade by Jenny Davies. Recently I was walking through the Degraves Street subway and noticed a display for the book. Then something in one of the windows caught my eye; amongst the cartoons, a familiar logo:

Flinders St station history display

Below this was a copy of the press release marking the PTUA’s 30th anniversary.

The display continues until Saturday.

Also something I recently noticed underneath the concourse: Maybe the book would explain it, but I haven’t yet worked out why these archways are shaped like this:

Architecture, Flinders Street

Perhaps the ramps from the concourse down to the platforms (now replaced with escalators and lifts) necessitated the lower height on one side. Any other guesses?


Laptop vs USB stick for school

Was chatting a while back to a colleague about his kids in high school. One of them ends up carrying an enormous amount of stuff to and from school, including books and sports equipment, but also a notebook (laptop) computer costing a couple of thousand dollars.

Giving students laptops makes no sense to me. Compared to desktops, they’re damaged more easily, they’re more expensive to buy (or less well specified), they depreciate in value much faster, and they’re Yet Another Thing for kids to have to carry around (which means more weight, and risk of theft).

I’m also wary of their portability, and the need to keep computers at home in a “public” area of the house.

My kids get given USB drives instead, so they can easily transfer their work from home to school and back again.

Admittedly you can’t put a laptop through the wash, as happened with one of our USB drives, though the data was recovered without problems.

I’d have thought in general having desktop computers both at home and school was a better solution than lugging laptops around the place.

Unless perhaps the laptop support contract comes with free chiropractor sessions.


Transport in the west end

Work has moved me to the west end of the city, and apart from needing to figure out where there’s a decent newsagency and ATM, I’m also figuring out the transport links.

Flagstaff station is the closest. Easy. Well, until they go ahead with that plan to move Frankston trains out of the loop, which is not a bad idea in and of itself, but it’ll mean a little extra hassle.

But within the CBD, and to the surrounding areas?

The train is an option for some trips, but not for others — and it depends on what time of day it is. Thanks to the enormously confusing lunchtime loop reversal, you can get to Southern Cross and Flinders Street before about 12:45, but not after that, at least not directly. You can get back to Flagstaff from those spots at any time however as the Clifton Hill loop runs clockwise all day on weekdays.

CBD transport map

Trams along Latrobe Street are the City Circle and the 30. The former is packed with tourists, and invisible to TramTracker, the latter doesn’t run outside business hours.

The William Street tram is also nearby. The catch with this one is it’s the worst tram street in the CBD. One route, only every 12 minutes in off-peak hours.

Nearby is Lonsdale Street, which is home to many buses. Of course these are impenetrable to many people, because you can’t just follow the tracks, and they have a confusing route structure.

In recent years they’ve rejigged them somewhat, concentrating most routes along Lonsdale Street and Queen Street. In fact they’ve built a bus turnaround thing at the western end of Lonsdale Street, which looks a tad bizarre until you figure out what it does; not to mention it seems only one route uses it right now.

However the information an overview of where all the buses go isn’t particularly easy to find. The best map to explain it is on some of the bus stops (see above), but nowhere to be found on the Metlink web site. (Mind you, it doesn’t have the change to tram 48 that moved it into Collins Street last year.)

In summary, 30x buses run up Queen Street and then east along Lonsdale Street. 216/219s run up Queen Street and then west along Lonsdale Street. 220 and 232 goes all the way along Queen Street. I am yet to establish if I can remember all that.

And despite its presence on the map, one can safely ignore the 684 bus, which is actually a service to Eildon which runs once a day, and stops only at Southern Cross Station, St Vincents Hospital, then not again until Ringwood.

driving Morons on the road

On the roads

The horrific car accident on Sunday morning that left 5 teenagers dead reminds me of some very stupid driving I saw from people on the trip down to Inverloch and back.

On the way down I saw a motorcyclist come up behind me on a stretch of single lane road. I was doing about the speed limit. He sat behind me for a few minutes. I saw a sign noting we were coming up to an overtaking lane, and thought he’d wait to overtake, but no, while we were on a curved stretch of road with double-white lines (indicating it was unsafe to overtake, don’t cross the lines), he decided to zoom past me. Only then did I see his pillion passenger on the back.


Driving back to Melbourne, I saw a couple of instances of people (one a zoomy sportscar, one a big truck) overtaking by using lanes marked for vehicles moving in the opposite direction to turn right.

And that was just two days after a nearby fatal crash close to Phillip Island. (In that accident, the man killed was not wearing a seatbelt.)

What can be done to stop this kind of behaviour?


Lynne Kosky resigns

People, people, people, you may be celebrating the fact that Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky has resigned. But it’s not that simple.

Just as the replacement of Connex with Metro hasn’t miraculously fixed the trains, neither will everything magically be okay with a new minister at the helm.

She was spot-on last week when she said “If I could fix it overnight I would, but it will take time to fix.”

The irony is that under Kosky’s tenure, almost unprecedented investment has been secured for the train network, including the 38 trains which (if it keeps up with patronage) will relieve overcrowding, and the increased maintenance and better infrastructure which will resolve a lot of the reliability problems we see today. But because she’s leaving now, she won’t be around to see it.

PS. Who will the replacement be? Some have assumed Pallas, because he has the other half of transport — Roads and Ports. I don’t think it’s that simple. Should find out tomorrow.


Over the holidays

Over the holidays, I became a bikie:

Daniel the bikie

… discovered the truth about Roger Ramjet:

Roger Ramjet was a terrorist (near Northcote station)

… and took a ride in a harvester: