Categories
transport

How to print your own personalised train/bus/tram timetable

One side of my fridge has my local train and bus timetables on it.

It’s very handy, and pretty easy to do.

Bentleigh station to the City timetable

Method one (quicker for trains, a little haphazard for buses and trams)

1. Go to www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au.

2. In the right hand side Station / Stop search, type the name of your station (or street for trams and buses) and click Go.

3. If more than one option comes up, click on the one you want and then click continue.

4. Choose the direction you want and click on the appropriate Stop Timetable PDF.

5. Print it, stick it to the fridge.

Method two (good for buses and trams if you’re not sure which is your stop):

1. Go to www.metlinkmelbourne.com.au/timetables.

2. Click the option you want: Trains, trams or buses.

3. Select the route you want, then click Get Route Timetable.

5. Click on the direction you want, eg “To city”

6. If bus or tram and your stop isn’t on the default list of timepoints, click the plus symbol as appropriate to get the complete list, then click on the stop name.

7. Choose the direction you want (if required) and click on the appropriate Stop Timetable PDF.

8. Print it, stick it to the fridge.

Notes and quirks

You can also search using the Station and Stop page, but you have to know precisely what suburb it’s in and the cross-street or location name used in Metlink’s database, which can be difficult for tram and bus stops.

Sadly the CBD to suburbs train timetables are pretty buggy. In the case of Melbourne Central to the Sydenham line, for instance, which should be straightforward, it lists trains only up until 12:29pm on weekdays , and claims there are no services on weekends — indicating it has some kind of phobia about services that run anticlockwise.

Other combinations from the CBD outbound sometimes indicate trains terminate at odd places such as Footscray and Caulfield; what it means then is that it’s showing you trains for other lines that service part of the line you asked for (which is probably useful in some cases, and not in others).

Oh, and watch out… the system has some stations in there twice, once for V/Line and once for Metro… even though they’re the same physical stations of course.

Quirks aside, it’s handy to have the timetable on the fridge rather than have to look it up online each time, or find the booklet.

Categories
books Film

My verdict on the Tintin movie

Look! It’s Tintin on a bus…
Tintin on a bus

And here’s Tintin on a tram (and a tram in Tintin)…
Tintin on a tram / a tram in Tintin

So anyway, we went to the Tintin movie yesterday — in 2D, as 3D doesn’t work on me. I enjoyed it a lot. They did a good job of recreating the look of Herge, and there were plenty of references to keep Tintin nerds like me entertained.

The first half of the movie had a lot of bits of Tintin stories all mushed together, and it was a bit like watching a rock concert, recognising the start of a scene, but being keen to see how they used the material.

[Limited spoilers ahead]

Categories
transport

Fringe Benefits Tax craziness: driving, going nowhere

The old FBT company car rules resulted in some quite ridiculous outcomes. In fact they still do, because apparently they still apply for existing leases.

Basically the rules meant that the further you drive, the less tax you pay. Which means people were strongly encouraged to drive long distances to save money — often driving for no real reason other than to make it into the next distance bracket and get a lower rate.

  • Less than 15,000km travelled a year – 26% FBT liability = 0.26 statutory fraction
  • 15,000 – 24,999km – 20% = 0.2 statutory fraction
  • 25,000 – 40,000 – 11% = 0.11 statutory fraction
  • Over 40,000km travelled in a year – 7% FBT liability = 0.07 statutory fraction.

I don’t know what genius came up with the way the tax laws worked, but really, what an utterly stupid system.

The other day I heard of a friend of a friend who has got her car doing the ultimate: I forget the precise numbers involved, but basically in order to avoid a big tax bill she needs to put thousands of kilometres on the clock by the end of the year.

Rather than spend the week going on a pointless long drive, her mechanic has devised a scheme whereby the car is up on blocks, and is set up so it can drive while stationary. Presumably they’ve put a brick on the accelerator and/or put it into cruise control, and the car is clocking up all those kilometres while not having to have a driver in it.

Quite amusing in a way, but this is the result when there are stupid laws.

Thankfully the tax system has changed, and for new leases signed since May, a more sensible flat rate system applies.

Categories
Consumerism

Christmas pics

Here’s a pic of some fools taking a shopping trolley on the escalator at Highpoint, where Marita and I managed to do a surgical strike for last-minute presents, and be back on the tram to her place within 30 minutes, before it got stupidly busy this morning.
IMAG1407a

Here’s some wrapping paper I bought last week…
Wrapping paper

…and here, with the brightness and contrast adjusted, is kinda what the wrapping paper looks like when in a darkened room. Hmmm.
Wrapping paper in the dark

And finally, here’s my experimental office Christmas photography…
Experiments in office Christmas photography

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Categories
Consumerism

If Myer went totally online, would the Christmas Windows turn into a web site?

Myer will close stores in Victoria and New South Wales and shrink surviving stores in response to the two-speed economy and online shopping.

Myer to close or shrink stores as retail malaise bites

Remembering that Myer Melbourne has already shrunk in size by about half, this isn’t a huge surprise. Sounds like some of the smaller stores will be closed.

Myer Christmas windows

I can’t see it happening, but I suppose if Myer went totally online, the Christmas Windows would be transitioned into a web site. Some kind of Flash animation, a Youtube clip or a Flickr slideshow?

I like shopping in person, seeing things up close, and the instant gratification of avoiding delivery times. But I also like online shopping — the flexibility of hours, the wide variety of products, and the generally better prices. This year my Christmas shopping has been a mix of both.

The Bourke Street Mall has been packed this week, especially from lunchtime onwards. It’ll be interesting to see how the retailers have gone this Christmas.

Categories
transport

Flinders Street Christmas decorations, and coming Myki changes

Apparently there were some delays in getting these decorations up, but now they’re in place, I do think they look rather splendid, don’t you?

Flinders Street: Merry Christmas
(Click here to view bigger)

Anybody know if this lights up at night?

Myki news

In today’s news, the Herald Sun reports that from January, Myki cards are to be reduced in price to $6 ($3 concession) and the $9.80 refund fee removed, meaning they’ll be fully refundable for tourists.

Update: However refunds will not include the initial $6/$3 fee for the card, and the refund will be issued by a cheque in the mail rather than over-the-counter, making the scheme useless for overseas tourists.

Yearly Metcards to be withdrawn, and it sounds like other Metcards (Monthlies, Weeklies, 10×2 hours?) will also be phased out in the next few months, to get more people moving over to Myki.

And I understand the retail network will expand and move ahead on selling cards, as will station and tram superstop vending machines.

It’s good that moves are finally afoot to get back onto one ticket system — given the costs and confusion around running two — but there are still questions over whether transitioning passengers will see the level of staff assistance they need, and what will happen with on-board (on trams and buses) purchase of tickets. Will there be any kind of option at all, or will we see mass fare evasion?

And will they ever fix the single beep sound problem so we can tell the difference between touch-on and touch-off, even if we’re in a hurry/not looking at the screen/unable to see it due to sun glare?

Categories
Geek music

Records, cassettes, CDs, iTunes

Back in 1995, I wrote as part of my History Of The World:

1964
Beatlemania sweeps the world. Shortly afterwards, electronics companies devise a fifty year plan to get people to buy all their favourite music many times over, by introducing new recorded music technology every decade. This works until the 1990s, when, due to a tactical miscalculation, everyone is perfectly happy with their CDs.

I guess the joke’s on me.

Love the advert, by the way… but I’m resisting. My CDs, some going back to the late-80s, all still work (though I admit getting suckered into upgrading to the remastered Abbey Road a couple of years back).

Categories
transport

Myki’s “headless” mode

This is Myki’s “headless mode”.

Myki's headless mode

It’s the Myki driver console, but temporarily shifted into a spot out of the way, while tram and bus drivers (in Melbourne) continue to use the Metcard consoles instead. (You can just see the old console at the top of the picture.)

It means drivers currently have no interaction with the Myki equipment.

Some of the consequences of this are:

Bus drivers can’t sell short term (Myki) tickets or take Myki card topups, like they can do on regional town buses. It appears the Baillieu government’s plans will mean the short term ticket option never gets used in Melbourne. It’s not clear if bus drivers will still take topups — obviously it would be handy if they would, particularly for outer-suburban users who may only rarely get to a railway station or major tram stop with a vending machine (though it’s arguable that they should institute a policy such as that used with Queensland’s Go Card, where it has to be at a multiple of $5, to prevent long transaction times from holding up the bus.)

Tram and bus drivers can’t reset Myki equipment on the vehicle if it goes ga-ga. Which it sometimes does.

Tram and bus Myki equipment has limited accuracy in knowing where it is, and where it’s going. Eventually the driver will enter information into the console about the route and direction being run, and this will be used in conjunction with the (apparently slightly dodgy) GPS to determine the current zone of the vehicle. It will also be used to determine the “default” (no touch-off) fare for buses, which is equal to the fare from where you boarded, to the end of the route. But for now, it’s just using the GPS, which sometimes leads to problems.

Less directly, all the other issues around running both systems in parallel… including the added cost, the confusion (you often see occasional users waving their Metcards at the Myki readers), less Myki readers and vending machines because the “good spots” are currently taken by Metcard equipment, and the reliability issues of “Frankenbarrier” Metcard fare gates with bolted-on Myki readers.

Obviously things will be a lot easier for Myki on trams and buses once Metcard is gone and “headless mode” is a thing of the past… though we’re yet to see solutions offered in lieu of short term tickets, and it’s unclear if/when they will really solve some of the other issues such as reliability, speed, and usability problems such as touch-on and touch-off returning the same identical beep.

Update February 2012: It has since been confirmed that bus drivers will accept topups.

Categories
Politics and activism

Crime and punishment

The barber the other day was having a rant about crime (as well as a number of other issues), and claimed that white-collar criminals almost always get caught (specifically, he reckoned they get caught 95% of the time), but muggers and others who commit crimes against the person almost never get caught (he reckoned 95% of the time get away with it).

It sounded pretty unlikely, and frankly I was relieved when his ranting got onto more hazy, less provable (or disprovable) ground. I think he’s been listening to too much tabloid talkback radio.

So what are the real figures?

The Victoria Police publish statistics on crime, including “single year clearances”. From page 14, and quoting the 2010-11 year:

Category Offences recorded Offence rate per 100,000 population Single year clearances
Crime against the person 48,511 868.5 78.0%
Crime against property 252,417 4519.1 29.5%
Drugs 14,789 264.8 98.3%
Other crime 43,362 776.3 92.3%

I’m going to assume that the clearance rates for the bottom two categories are so much higher because they might generally be reported as a result of proactive police action, whereas the others are generally reported by members of the public, and then investigated after the fact.

On the face of it, the opposite to the barber’s claim is true: you are more likely to get caught for a crime against the person than for a property crime such as theft. (Presumably some crimes are cleared after more than a year, bringing the figures up a bit further.)

I like the barber, but I suspect his ranting that the carbon tax will ruin the country is equally wrong, and I’m not entirely sure about his theories on what the CIA’s up to can be trusted either.

Other stats

There’s some other interesting stats in the VicPol document, such as the temporal trends (pages 103-112), which show that crimes such as assault are more likely on Friday and Saturday nights, there appears to be a spike in homicides on Mondays around midday (hmm. Could be the small sample size skewed it?)… and burglary (residential) is most common on weekdays during the day (eg when people are at work) — which makes me think the home insurance people should ask if there’s a car in the driveway on weekdays, and give a discount for it.

Burglary: time of day/week

Page 114 covers the locations of crime. More crimes against the person occur in residences than anywhere else (18,568 out of 48,511, or 38%). In contrast, 1,873 (3.8%) occurred on public transport. There’s also a figure of 1,180 for “other transport” — I’m not sure what this means — people beating each other up in their cars? There were no homicides on public transport, but one on “other transport”.

Page 116 has figures on the relationship of the victim to the offender. For most types of crime against the person, the victim was known to the offender. No relationship was recorded in 25.6% of cases.

Some interesting figures. Well worth a read.

Categories
music TV

Get well soon, Molly

Music industry legend Molly Meldrum has undergone surgery overnight to relieve swelling on his brain after he fell from the roof while putting up Christmas decorations at his Richmond home.

Bedside vigil as Meldrum fights for life

I reckon for most Australian Gen-Xers with an interest in music, Molly Meldrum is just someone who’s always been there, as host of Countdown, then later on Hey Hey.

As a kid I used to regularly watch Countdown on a Sunday afternoon, always keen to see what had made it into the top ten. I can’t claim I liked all the music, but was fascinated by the music videos and live performances.

I remember watching the psychedelic music video to Ashes To Ashes. (Released August 1980, so I must have been about 10.) My mum looked at the TV and made some remark along the lines of how strange it was. I recall getting all self-righteous and saying back “you wouldn’t understand” — as if I had some deep, knowing connection with it.

Despite for a while living a short distance from the ABC’s Ripponlea studios, I never actually went along to a recording of Countdown, though my sister did once. She came home with a freebie LP of Cyndi Lauper.

Molly popped up on the Queen documentary recently aired by the ABC, in archival footage, interviewing Freddie Mercury. I know he’s still active as well, so his influence is still felt in the music industry, and I’m sure many will be wishing him a full and speedy recovery.