I’ve been listening to the Transit Unplugged podcast for a while now on my (sometimes quite long) weekend walks.
They typically interview CEOs and other senior managers from public transport systems in the USA, often small-to-medium sized operations.
In recent weeks they’ve published a set of interviews with CEOs from much larger operations – and the reason this is of particular interest to locals here is that they’re all in Australia – mostly Melbourne.
While I know and have spoken to some of the people involved, it’s interesting to hear about issues from this perspective – interviewed by host Paul Comfort, who is a former CEO of an American public transport operator.
They’re not challenging interviews – but some of the challenges facing these operations certainly get highlighted.
The interviews are also a reminder that behind the scenes of the public transport operations that we passengers see day to day, there’s a lot of management of people and finance that’s also going on – something in common with any big organisation.
The other theme is that of change. For instance the PTV interview notes that one seat journeys are no longer realistic for all trips in a city the size of Melbourne, but work needs to be done on better interchanges. The V/Line interview notes the transition from a regional rail operator to (at least for many passengers) a commuter railway.
I can see a few typos in the transcripts – especially for Jeroen Weimar, who is a fast talker when he gets going – and Nicolas Gindt’s reference to gunzels, in his French accent, which must have confounded the host, is missing.
Perhaps the transcripts were generated by a computer – and you might also note a few minor gaffes in the recordings, but still, these are very interesting and well worth a listen.
I’ll leave you with this great optimistic quote from Howard Collins from Sydney Trains:
Australia has hit the golden age of rail. I think for the first time in probably 50 years, Australians realize public transport is the only way to get cities to work. Expanding cities like Melbourne and Sydney, which are going to grow from five million to eight million in the next 20 years, you can’t drive, you can’t have that culture of car anymore. You’ve got to look at London and New York, and you’ll see that public transport.
- PTUA members and would-be members: the next member meeting on 25th July features Councillor Nic Frances Gilley from City of Melbourne, talking about their draft transport strategy. Details here.