Categories
transport

#Myki myths 4: You have to give them your name and address – No, you don’t

Myki: how to use

Some people seem to be a little paranoid about this:

There is no requirement to provide a name and address to get a Myki card.

You can buy a full fare Myki card from a vending machine. No details given, using cash or credit/debit/EFTPOS card to pay.

You can buy a full fare or concession Myki card from a station booking office or retail outlet, using cash or card to pay. No details given.

You can buy a full fare or concession Myki card online using a card to pay. Obviously they need your details to mail out the card. They then delete those details after the card has been sent. If you don’t trust them on this, use one of the above options.

People can choose to register their name and address to a Myki card. That means if the card is lost, it can be blocked and the balance transferred to a new card. It also means you can view the account online — however you can do online topups even with an anonymous card.

So if you’re concerned about your details and don’t want to give them to the Transport Ticketing Authority, you don’t have to.

Categories
transport

Should Metro move driver changeovers out of Flinders Street, and confine drivers to line groups?

Seems the stuff in today’s Age to do with moving train driver changeovers out of Flinders Street is a bit controversial.

I don’t particularly want to discuss it in the myriad of places I’ve seen people (mostly train drivers, I suspect) leave me comments about it, so I’ll do so here instead.

Lynbrook station

From the article:

Central to the plan is a proposal to ”decentralise drivers” by removing them from their current city hub and basing them at five separate suburban locations. The new hubs would serve as the network’s changeover points.

Drivers have warned the Baillieu government that the plan mimics the failed break-up of the network into two operators – Connex and Bayside – when Melbourne rail was privatised in 1999.

”The initial privatisation of the system which saw it split into two separate operating companies was an absolute disaster, with drivers unqualified to run trains on both sides of the system,” one driver wrote to Minister for Public Transport Terry Mulder.

”Metro now intends to go even further down this ridiculous path by dividing the system into five separate divisions. Drivers will be locked into one group … This will lead to constraints on available qualified staff to run the system.”

But Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen backed the proposal to decentralise drivers, saying it would help keep trains moving.

”Removing changeovers from Flinders Street would be an improvement, given the delays there,” Mr Bowen said.

As always with journalism, you need to be wary of paraphrasing. Note the quote. I did not say I agree with splitting the drivers into five groups, and only training them on individual lines/groups of lines. What I did say is that I (and the PTUA) supports moving changeovers out of Flinders Street.

What’s the situation now?

Train drivers may drive on any line on any day, and generally on a mix of lines. In fact there are rules that restrict the number of trips they can take on a single line on one day.

Changeovers occur at Flinders Street, as well as outer-suburban stations.

Delays

It’s the driver changeovers at Flinders Street which, as any regular passenger will tell you, are far from unknown.

Apart from the simple act of handing a train over to another driver taking an extra few seconds, drivers coming off other services can be delayed. If one line is suspended, drivers who had been driving inbound trains into the city may get caught up in it, causing delays on other lines on the other side of town.

Metro and the government want to move driver changeovers from Flinders Street. I think this makes sense, to maximise throughput of the busiest station in Melbourne. It’s not just about cutting delays to current operations, it’s also about allowing more trains to run on the current infrastructure, by pushing them straight through, keeping them moving, as per a stop at somewhere like Southern Cross or Melbourne Central.

Other cities around the world already do this. For example, Sydney, London and Paris all have networks designed so that most or all trains from the suburbs, straight through the central city, then out again. This change, combined with the City Loop, would effectively do the same for most lines.

Splitting up the system

This is a related, but separate, issue.

Metro also, it seems, want to completely sectorise the rail system, and have drivers dedicated to specific groups of lines.

There seem to be a number of very good arguments against confining drivers like this (even though this is what many other systems, including London Underground, do). The primary reasons against this include:

  • It reduces flexibility. You can no longer move drivers around the network as needed if they aren’t qualified to drive on all lines. Which is not to say that every single driver would be restricted in this way; it would be logical to have at least some who could drive anywhere.
  • Safety issues. It’s said that drivers who get too “bored” of a line may get less attentive, creating more issues such as Signals Passed At Danger.

On the pro side, it would cut the training required, meaning the recruitment process for new drivers would be quicker.

But I think it’s a really hard issue, with genuine drawbacks.

One way of doing it which would avoid many problems would be to move driver changeovers to the burbs, and have drivers confined to a single line group on a single day, but move them around between groups on different days.

Thoughts welcome.

(Gentle hint: if you want your comment to be approved, then unlike some commenting elsewhere online, address the issues, rather than claiming I don’t know what I’m talking about.)

Categories
Home life Net

Oh no! Home Interwebs is down

Disaster! No internet at home.

Yesterday iiNet/Netspace had major outage in Victoria. It was eventually fixed, but even after a modem reboot we couldn’t get back online.

Then I noticed the home phone (yes, I still have one of those) was getting no dial tone. My assumption initially was that this was just an unhappy coincidence; I’m unclear as to how a widespread ISP outage would somehow affect a home phone line.

So I rang Telstra, whose call centre person (offshore, I’m assuming, given how scrupulously polite she was) ran through some basic checks before declaring a tech will need to look at the lines on the street.

That will apparently take until Wednesday or Thursday. Sigh.

Netspace support was closed last night by the time I got around to looking at things, but I’ll try and reach them this morning to see if anything can be done from their end.

Until then, apart from limited mobile use, I guess we’re cutoff from the outside world.

Update lunchtime: Got hold of iiNet support; they can’t see a problem that would affect the phone line, but asked me to check the sync light on the modem. Since I’m not at home, they suggested they could ring me back tonight (at 8:39pm to be precise) to go through it with me. Cool.

Update 6pm: Text message from Telstra a couple of hours ago to say all is resolved, and it appears to be so. Woo hoo!

Categories
transport

Metro changes to achieve punctuality: good and bad

The Herald Sun reports today that Metro punctuality figures have improved markedly in the last 12 months, including the figure on the Frankston line jumping from 68.4% to 87.1%.

Certainly this is due to some changes in the way the trains are run. The question is, are these changes good, or bad?

Good: Departing platform 2

Westona stationTraditionally Melbourne’s suburban station platforms are numbered so that platform 1 is the one usually used for city-bound trains.

This means platform 1 is also usually on the left (facing the city). An exception is at Westona, where the trains arrive on the right (I’m guessing it’s perhaps because they’d prefer the driver, in the left of the cab, to have better visibility of the platform).

At my local station Bentleigh, there are three platforms, in the morning using two of them in city-bound direction. It used to be that stopping trains would use platform 1, and express trains would zoom through platform 2, with trains from the city using platform 3.

Reflecting this, almost all the benches on the platform face platform 1.

Last year it changed, with at least two stopping trains using platform 2, and some express trains going through platform 1. Call me slow, but I just figured out why.

Bentleigh station, platform 2

It’s because those two services start at Moorabbin two stations away, and are formed by trains from the city that terminate there, then reverse back into the city. Running them on platform 2 (the middle track) means they don’t have to cross two tracks at Moorabbin (from track 3 to track 1), risking delaying other citybound trains.

This may seem like a trivial, inconsequential change, but this sort of thing — making little tweaks to operations to better use the infrastructure capacity available, with only minor impact to passengers — is what we need to see more of.

Bad: Express alterations

In contrast, the widespread alteration of services to run express because they’re late is having a detrimental impact. Metro are claiming it’s rare and “for the greater good”.

It might be understandable if they were only doing it, for instance, to off-peak trains, in order to get trains into position for the peak, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that is not the case.

For instance, on Friday (the morning of The Age’s story on it), the 8:25 from Moorabbin was altered to run express to Caulfield. I saw it fly through Bentleigh at 8:31, which means assuming a minute was gained between Moorabbin and Bentleigh, it was only 2-3 minutes late. It would have arrived at Caulfield early, and all the passengers from Patterson to Glenhuntly had to cram onto the following train.

This particular service has plenty of fat in its schedule anyway — it regularly arrives at South Yarra 2+ minutes early due to excessive timetable padding, so the late change was for no good reason. This is not good customer service from Metro.

Another recent example was the 6pm-ish departure to Frankston, altered to skip most of its stations, as highlighted last month on the PTUA web site and in Friday’s Channel 10 story:

Thus ends today’s Neville Shunt-like train post.

Categories
transport

Parking promotion: “Why are you still on the train?” Lots of reasons actually.

"Why are you still on the train?" parking brochure

Someone was handing these out at Flagstaff station the other day. The bloke was in the exit area at ground-level, and was not on the public footpath. If it were Southern Cross station, where the security guards are super-vigilant about this kind of thing, he’d have been moved on unless he had a commercial arrangement with the station operator.

(It could be worse; 10ish years the original incarnation of Yarra Trams was encouraging people to give up on public transport for 90% of their trip; drive to Docklands Stadium, the Tennis Centre or Melbourne Museum, eg battle through most of the traffic, and park & ride a tram to work. For a while they promoted this by handing out brochures outside Parliament station, and via banners on fences outside the Tennis Centre that faced towards nobody but passing rail passengers.)

So, why am I still on the train?

Many reasons actually.

Because the heavy traffic I’d face while driving is a waste of my time. (Google maps estimates a travel time of 27-40 minutes depending on traffic; the train trip is about 25 minutes.)

Because not being able to play with my phone or read a book or newspaper while travelling is a waste of my time.

Because parking costs alone at around $7 per day is more than the cost of my daily travel (based on $1215 for a discounted Yearly Myki Pass and travel of at least 220 days per year = $5.52 per day).

Because petrol at $1.47 per litre (or whatever it is this week) is a waste of my money.

Because the wear and tear of an extra 30km round trip per day would cost me even more money.

Because I have no wish to add more smog and petrol burning emissions to the environment, nor add to the traffic.

Because despite problems, most of the trains turn up, and they are mostly (more-or-less) on time.

Because leaving my car in the driveway may be (hopefully, maybe?) a deterrent to burglars.

Because the walk to and from the station is doing me good.

And finally because, well, for me, it’d wouldn’t be a good look to drive to work :-)

Update: Dallas noted the text on their web site:

No more Public Transport, No more Parking Fines!

If you’re fed up with the stress that comes with catching public transport and you’re looking for a safe, secure and convenient place to park your car any time of the day or night, Secure Parking has the solution for you.

Thanks, I’ll give it a miss.

Categories
transport

Myki cards can (sometimes) be shared

With little fanfare, there was a change last year to the ticketing rules that appear to allow Myki cards to be shared, so that for instance you can keep one at home to lend to visitors from interstate or overseas, or a company office can keep one handy to lend to employees who don’t use PT.

It doesn’t mean you can let multiple people use a single “fare product”, such as a Myki Pass, but for instance a single card with Myki Money on it can be used by different people on different days. At least, that’s my interpretation of it:

If a myki that is not registered does not have a myki pass loaded on it, any person lawfully in possession of the myki may use it for a journey or an entry to a designated area.

A myki that may be used by more than one person must be used by only one such person for the whole of any journey and any related entries to a designated area or for the whole of any other entry to a designated area.

Update Saturday: PLEASE NOTE the above clearly states a Myki Pass cannot be shared.

It also talks about a Registered Myki being able to be used by others, with the consent of the registered cardholder.

So it’s now a little closer to may be common practice anyway (though note it specifically prohibits the equivalent of a regular commuter lending a colleague their Monthly Pass to a colleague for a lunchtime tram ride — this has long been effectively outlawed).

This is all in the Government Gazette, or page 87 of the Fares and Ticketing Manual, but as far as I know hasn’t been explained in plain English to anybody anywhere — let alone announced or promoted in any way — despite it being of intense interest given the removal of Metcard and all short-term ticket options.

Flagstaff: extra standalone Myki readers to take gate overflow

Those watching such things may be interested to know that standalone readers to work as overflow for the fare gates are now in use during morning peak at Flagstaff.

Categories
Consumerism

The data mining behind loyalty cards shows just how devious they can be

Flybuys cards, whether you wanted them or notThis interesting article about data mining shows just how devious they can be. For example, a casino:

The system collects data each time a gambler uses their casino loyalty card – be it for gambling, purchasing food in the restaurant or paying for snacks from their room minibar – to create a pattern of their behaviour.

The system can see, for example, that the last few times Gambler X visited the casino, they stayed for two days and lost between $200 and $300, then promptly left the gaming floor, spent no more money and went home the next day.

”As a casino operator you don’t want that, you want to make people happy and spend more money,” Quinn says.

Enter Tibco’s event processing software. When the system detects the customer is falling into a particular pattern, such as the consistent losing streak that caused them to leave during their last visit, it sends an automatic note to a gaming floor attendant to offer the person a free meal, or ticket to a show.

The idea is to distract the gambler long enough that they’ll come back later and continue to play and lose money, albeit in more palatable amounts.

Ingenious. For the cost of a meal (and installing the computer tracking in the first place) the Casino gets heaps more money. No wonder gamblers get sucked into losing lots of money.

IMAG0462The same type of logic is the real reason behind loyalty cards like Flybuys, and why Coles would like nothing more than for absolutely everybody to have one.

They apparently want this so much that last week they sent me two cards “to the householder” even though I’ve never been a member — and I hear I’m not the only one.

I do have a Woolworths loyalty card, because I more often shop there. It earns me Frequent Flyer points which sometime in the next couple of decades might add up to enough to take a flight somewhere (or more likely will earn me a small discount using Points+Pay… or a thing such as the barbecue I got via the Qantas FF shop a few years ago).

But I happen to know that you don’t earn any points for transactions less than $30, so I deliberately don’t present the card for those, ‘cos really, they don’t need to know too much about my spending patterns.

You can call me paranoid if you wish, but note the comments in this article the other day:

But analysts said that the programs took from customers as much as they “gave back”, in terms of valuable information on their shopping habits. “This is essentially just a new form of marketing,” Citigroup equities analyst Craig Woolford said. “There are two globally perceived benefits – one is retaining your customer, and the other is developing insights into your customers’ shopping behaviours.”

Oh, I also love this quote from someone at Coles:

“Australian customers tell us they want discounts on the products they buy the most,” Coles finance director Tony Buffin told BusinessDay.

Well duh.

Categories
driving Morons on the road

Pics from the road

This guy must be a Top Gear fan… notably a few minutes later he was seen careering across two lanes, at about 20 kmh over the speed limit.
STIG

Do drivers of the BMW 320d realise that it says “pose” upside-down? (Well okay, POZE.)
BMW 320d - "Pose" upsidedown

It just staggers me that people still do stupid stuff like queue over level crossings. Pure idiocy.
Cars queuing across level crossing

Categories
Home life

New toy: hedgetrimmer

A cheap and cheerful hedgetrimmer, $50 at Bunnings.

Daniel's hedgetrimmer

To be used for occasional trimming of hedges (well duh) in between visits from Andy, my trusty gardener… specifically around the back of the house, where sometimes the hedges grow so fast it feels like the open space in the garden is getting a little smaller everyday.

No, I don’t plan to go all Edward Scissorhands and do any topiary… though having looked at some of the examples on the Wikipedia entry for it, I reckon it’d be pretty funny to develop one that was, say, Dalek-shaped.

Categories
Melbourne music TV

Sights of Old Melbourne Town – as seen in music videos

Dragon: Are You Old Enough (1978) — around Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, including the now-gone behaviour of riding the running board on a tram, and a Silvertop taxi back when they really did have a silver top.

John Paul Young: Yesterday’s Hero (1975) — around Swanston Street

Paul Kelly: Leaps and Bounds — mostly the Nylex sign, of course

Everyone knows this one… AC/DC: It’s A Long Way To The Top (1975) — Swanston Street again

More recent… The Living End: All Town Torn Down (1998) — various spots, including Citylink and Parliament station

What others are out there?

Update lunchtime

Suggested by Scott: Skyhooks — This is my City (1976) (sorry, can’t embed)

And of course I should have thought of this obvious one: The Whitlams — Melbourne (1997):