Is it time to buy a Yearly Myki fare?

Generally every January, public transport fares in Victoria go up.

This year it’s expected to be a 4.3% rise — this is CPI of 1.8% 2.8% (for the year to September), plus a 2.5% 1.5% rise that was first announced by the Coalition in December 2013, to be implemented in January 2015-2018, and dutifully followed by Labor each year.

(Did the Coalition plan that rise to cover the Free Tram Zone and Zone 1+2 capping? I’m betting yes; they announced the zone changes as an election policy just three months later in March 2014, which was quickly matched by Labor. I wonder how long it’ll take for zone 1+2 fares to reach their previous levels?)

Just before the price rise is a good time to decide if buying a Yearly Pass is good value.

These are available for any combination of Myki zones, provide a discount (365 days for the price of a 325 day Pass) — and because you pay up-front, you’ll be getting travel during 2018 for the 2017 price.

Cheaper than buying a Yearly Pass at the retail price is buying it through Commuter Club. CC is a discount scheme offered by a number of large corporate employers, particularly government departments and universities.

The biggest seller of CC tickets is the PTUA. PTUA membership plus the cost of the ticket is still a saving compared to the full price — $84 cheaper at 2017 prices. And by being a PTUA member, you’re supporting the organisation and its campaigns.

PTUA CC orders at the 2017 price will close on 30th November. This is imposed by PTV on all CC re-sellers, though some may have slightly different close dates.

  • PTUA CC tickets are paid in advance. Some employers who offer CC will do it by regular salary deductions, which could be a better option.
  • Unfortunately CC tickets are only available for Zones 1 and 2. (That said, if you’re a V/Line user living further afield, you could probably buy a Zone 1+2 CC ticket and load Myki Money onto it for your travel further out.)

New Myki signage on trams, October 2015

So, how much can you save? It varies, according to how much you usually travel. Here’s a couple of ways of working it out.

Cost in days – this compares the cost of 365 days on a Pass, with the cost if you’re paying for individual days

What this means is that if you buy a PTUA Commuter Club Yearly for $1515, you’re getting 365 days of travel for the same cost of 184 days of Myki Money, or 308 days of Myki Pass days (assuming you buy Passes of between 28 and 325 days).

In both cases, the cost in days goes down in 2018 if you’ve paid in advance, because the prices go up.

Another way of working it out is Cost Per Day (inspired by this Reddit post).

So a PTUA CC Yearly will cost you $4.15 per day if you travel every single day, or $5.83 per day if you travel on weekdays only — compared to a Myki Money price of $8.20 (2017) or $8.55 (2018).

A secondary saving might be if, because you’ve prepaid your travel, you end up using public transport more often instead of driving.

Flagstaff: extra standalone Myki readers to take gate overflow

If you think this all sounds more complicated than it needs to be, you’re right. Myki was originally designed with automatic weekly and monthly capping which would have made it a bit easier to pay-as-you-go on Myki Money but still get the discounted Pass rate.

Perhaps one day it’ll be re-instated, but until then, for regular users it’s worth doing a little research to find the cheapest option.

Would you want a spaghetti junction in your neighbourhood?

In a plan that takes the popular level crossing removal program but flips it on its head, the State Coalition have announced they will grade-separate 55 road intersections around Melbourne if elected in 2018. (Reports: ABC / Age / Herald Sun)

Here’s an animation created by the Coalition:

And here’s the list of intersections announced so far:

  • 1 Torquay Road and Settlement Road, Belmont
  • 2 Barwon Heads Road and Settlement Road, Belmont
  • 3 Point Cook Road and Princes Hwy, Point Cook
  • 4 Geelong Road and Somerville Road, West Footscray
  • 5 Ballarat Road and McIntyre Road, Sunshine
  • 6 Ballarat Road and Geelong Road, Footscray
  • 7 Gap Road and Horne Street, Sunbury
  • 8 Mickleham Road and Broadmeadows Road, Gladstone Park
  • 9 Sydney Road and Cooper Street, Somerton
  • 10 Sydney Road and Mahoneys Road, Campbellfield
  • 11 Plenty Road and McDonalds Road, South Morang
  • 12 St Georges Road and Bell Street, Preston
  • 13 Albert Street and Bell St, Preston
  • 14 Banksia Street and Lower Heidelberg Road, Heidelberg
  • 15 Fitzsimons Lane and Main Road, Eltham
  • 16 Fitzsimons Lane and Porter Street, Templestowe
  • 17 Williamsons Road and Foote Street, Templestowe
  • 18 Whitehorse Road and Springvale Road, Nunawading
  • 19 Springvale Road and Burwood Hwy, Vermont South
  • 20 Springvale Road and Ferntree Gully Road, Glen Waverley
  • 21 Princes Hwy, Springvale Road and Police Road, Mulgrave
  • 22 Stud Road and Wellington Road, Rowville
  • 23 Princes Hwy and North Road, Clayton
  • 24 Dandenong Road and Warrigal Road, Oakleigh
  • 25 Nepean Hwy and Glenhuntly Road, Elsternwick
  • 26 Nepean Hwy and North Road, Brighton East
  • 27 Nepean Hwy and South Road, Bentleigh
  • 28 Warrigal Road and South Road, Moorabbin
  • 29 Nepean Hwy, Warrigal Road, Lower Dandenong Road, Mentone
  • 30 Boundary Road and Governor Road, Mordialloc
  • 31 Heatherton Road and Hallam Road, Endeavour Hills
  • 32 Racecourse Road and Bald Hill Road, Pakenham
  • 33 Thompsons Road and Western Port Hwy, Lyndhurst
  • 34 Hall Road and Western Port Hwy, Cranbourne West
  • 35 Moorooduc Hwy and Cranbourne Road, Frankston

My initial thinking: grade separating suburban intersections is a terrible idea.

It has the potential to be extremely hostile to pedestrians and cyclists, as well as businesses and other properties immediately adjacent the roads affected.

Melbourne has rightly moved away from grade-separated intersections, eg King St/Flinders St, where the City of Melbourne noted:

One of the principal benefits of the redevelopment of the former Fishmarket site and removal of the Flinders Overpass is that it reconnects the city to the river. The Flinders Street Overpass has provided a physical and symbolic further barrier ensuring that the city ends at Flinders Street. The provision of a variety of activity on the former Fishmarket Site will activate that corner of the city significantly compared to its current role as a public carpark and impound facility.

King Street overpass (October 2003)

The Coalition’s new proposal goes backwards. And it includes signalised right hand turns, as well as signalised pedestrian movements across the road above, negating much of the traffic moving benefit.

It’s unclear how many of the projects would require land acquisition to provide space for the ramps. That’s the problem with grade-separated road intersections – unlike rail/road grade separations (which benefit everybody, not just motorists), they are very space-inefficient.

And all this to achieve continuously flowing traffic that would ultimately have no long-lasting effects thanks to induced traffic.

There might be a short term benefit to people driving through your neighbourhood. But given there are no proposals to remove all the traffic lights along any one particular road, motorists might miss one set of lights, only to get stuck at the next.

For everybody else — those who walk, cycle, or even drive locally — a spaghetti junction in your suburb would be an overwhelming negative.

If you want a taste of grade-separated intersections, check St Kilda Junction. It’s huge, it’s horrible to ride a bike or walk, traffic movements are restricted/convoluted (eg Queensway southbound onto St Kilda Road), and to achieve it they bulldozed numerous buildings including the Junction Hotel.

Designs may have improved, but they can’t solve the basic problems of geometry. Moving lots of cars requires lots and lots of space.

The State Coalition seems to have transport policies varying from the excellent (trains every ten minutes, every day — a policy that was announced in March but is still worryingly absent from their web site) to the dire (roads, roads and more roads, including building so many motorways at once that even the RACV said it was over-the-top).

It’ll be interesting to see if this particular proposal gains traction.

PS. With thanks to Arfman for the inspiration, though I’m sure someone else can do a better job:

Cyclists on the footpath

I described this on Twitter the other day, but I’ll expand on it here.

I was heading out in the car on Saturday afternoon.

Got in, beeped, looked behind me, slowly backed-out of my driveway.

BANG! A cyclist riding along the footpath with his dog (roughly at running pace) collided with my car.

I stopped, moved my car back into the driveway, and asked if he was okay. Thankfully he was. And his dog.

They carried on down the street, at the same speed.

Bicycles parked at Ormond station

Cyclists on footpaths

Cycling forms a vital part of the transport network, helping people travel longer distances than might be practical by walking, but without having to drive a vehicle.

Sometimes there are good reasons for cyclists to avoid riding on the road. Riding on some roads can be perilous due to driver behaviour.

Probably not my on street though. It’s fairly quiet. But what would you do if taking the dog out for a run?

In Victoria it’s completely legal to ride on the footpath for cyclists under 12, or accompanying those under 12. (Regulation 250)

(The bloke I encountered was an adult.)

The problem isn’t so much the bicycle itself, as the speed compared to other footpath users.

Just as cyclists come of worse in on-road collisions with motor vehicles, pedestrians come of worse in footpath collisions with cyclists.

For a bike going at anything much above walking speed, there’s a real danger of a collision with a vehicle or a person, especially given limited visibility to/from driveways and garden paths — in fact years ago one of my sons was hit by a cyclist while coming out of a front garden gate.

And yet some cyclists will persist in riding at speed along footpaths. Really not a good idea.

What could I have done?

My fence isn’t high, but the speed he was going, I’d have little chance of spotting him even if driving out forwards.

And he obviously didn’t spot me, and either didn’t hear the beep, or didn’t realise where it came from, or couldn’t stop in time.

There is one thing I could do: my driveway is short enough that I could have a quick look up and down the footpath before I get in the car. It might help.

ATMs are free – but not all of them

Believe it or not, sometimes I blog about things other than transport. If you want to look purely at transport posts, try this link.

Commonwealth Bank (CBA) announced on 24th September that all their ATMs were free for use by customers of any Australian bank.

The same day, the rest of the Big 4 scrambled, and matched that pledge… but CBA had the jump on them, and some of the others couldn’t implement it straight away.

Over the past few weeks, they’ve got it done, so ATMs are fee-free for all Australian cardholders since:

(By the way, ANZ loses points here. Not only does their press release not specify the date the fees are waived (it just says “early October 2017”) it’s also on a horrible web site that forces you to download a PDF, rather than simply viewing the content on a web page. It’s also amusing that both ANZ and NAB still have the media parts of their web site not using HTTPS. You’d think banks would be more security-conscious.)

ATMs in Emporium

It’s not hard to see why the banks are making their ATMs free. Effectively it lets them consolidate their ATM networks, when the use of cash is dropping. In my suburb, CBA, ANZ, Westpac, NAB and Bank Of Melbourne all have a presence; I haven’t counted, but probably about 8 ATMs between them, within a few hundred metres.

So does this change mean all ATMs are free for all Australian cardholders? No! Some to watch out for:

  • Bankwest ATMs, prominent in 7-11s, are not free except for customers of Bankwest and CBA — despite being a CBA subsidiary. (It appears non-7-11 Bankwest machines will be made free, but I can’t find official info on Bankwest’s web site)
  • Other minor smaller financial institutions such as Bendigo Bank and Suncorp
  • Minor ATM brands such as Banktech and CardTronics — hardly surprising they’ll continue to charge. Presumably that’s how they make money.
  • RediATMs that are not at NAB branches — see below

NAB ATM in Bentleigh

I was initially confused by RediATM (owned by Financial company Cuscal). NAB ATMs seem to include RediATM branding, but RediATM appears to have a wider network. RediATM’s web site says institutions in their partner network have free access, but their FAQs say:

Yes, anyone can use a rediATM as long as your card is accepted, although you will be charged a direct charge fee. To avoid a direct charge fee at a rediATM, your financial institution must be partner of the rediATM network.

NAB has confirmed that RediATM-branded machines at NAB branches are really NAB machines, and are free forall Australian cards:

ATMs have been around for a long time. Check this video from 1969 when they were first devised:

Initially the waiving of fees looks like a win for cardholders, at least Australian ones.

Rule of thumb: just stick to the Big Four’s ATMs, and you won’t pay fees.

I’m certainly using a lot less cash than I used to, thanks largely to Paypass, so I’m not at all surprised the banks are making moves to reduce the number of ATMs.

Southland station, about to open – at last!

Southland station is almost here — it’s scheduled to open on November 26th. At last!

The centre has been getting ready

Importantly, a more direct pedestrian path, including zebra crossings, has been provided from the centre entrance to the railway station. Bravo!

Pedestrian path from Southland shopping centre to new station

Wayfinding signage inside the centre already points the way to the station.

Southland shopping centre, sign pointing to station

Paid parking (if you stay beyond 3 hours) was introduced a couple of weeks ago to prevent park and ride users filling the customer car park.

There’s still some understandable grumpiness about the impact on staff, being charged $5 per day. Some appear to have taken to parking in nearby streets outside the centre, such as along Nepean Highway and in the William Fry reserve car park.

Parking on the Nepean Highway near Southland

A short summary of the long history of Southland station

1880s – the Frankston line was opened in 1881-1882. A station was proposed at Bay Road quite early on, but not pursued

1968 – Southland Shopping Centre opened, though the original centre was on the eastern side of the Nepean Highway, and not particularly near to the railway line

1999 – New shops adjacent the railway line, and a bridge across the highway opened. Owners Westfield had proposed a station, but were knocked back by the Public Transport Corporation

2004 – State government runs a “pre-feasibility study” – that was the kind of level of commitment back then. Not even a proper feasibility study.

2010 – However somewhere in the background, things must have progressed a bit, because both Labor and the Coalition promise to build the station going into the November state election.

Labor’s version included moving the bus interchange, and was to cost $45 million. The Coalition’s $13 million pledge excluded work on the bus interchange. Ideal? Perhaps not, but almost every bus route connects with the railway line at other locations, so not really a biggie.

The Coalition won the 2010 election, but there was little visible action for some years. By late-2012, it was obvious the project wouldn’t be completed in the 2010-2014 term, which in retrospect looks to have been a huge tactical error. If you’re trying to retain marginal seats, it obviously helps if you can show you’ve funded and completed beneficial projects.

2013 – Coalition funds the station, with construction to commence in 2015, opening in 2016. Around this time, forecasts emerged of around 4400 passengers per day — which if reached would make it one of the busiest stations on the line.

(Around this time, an FOI on the station revealed planning was underway for all-night trains on weekends. This eventually got pledged by Labor in the 2014 election, and delivered in 2016 as Night Network.)

2014 – Cost revealed as $21 million, still aiming at 2016 completion

2015 – Following Labor’s win in the 2014 election, they reviewed the project, and included public consultation on issues such as toilets and whether the station should have an entrance from neighbouring Tulip Grove — locals decided not. Cleverly, PTV snapped-up a property on the street when it became available for sale, and used it for construction, and it will be future provision for an entrance. This delayed the opening to 2017.

2016 – Construction got underway in a serious way. By November the pedestrian subway had been built.

2017 – Construction has pushed ahead, and from August 2017 a timetable revision included allowance for serving the station.

In the past few weeks, Southland has started appearing on Passenger Information Displays and being announced – as the only station that trains aren’t stopping at!

How do people get to Southland now?

Mostly by car, which on busy days can involve a lot of hunting around for a car space. Apparently this has improved a bit on weekdays since paid parking, but from what I saw on Saturday, is still an issue on weekends.

Or you could get the bus. Buses are so infrequent on weekends (the busiest days) that from nearby suburbs it can be quicker to walk.

They are also so infrequent on weekends that it’s not uncommon to see the bus interchange completely devoid of buses.

Southland bus interchange, Saturday morning

Or you could walk from Cheltenham station. You’ve likely already walked to catch a train at the other end of the trip, and then it’s about a 15 minute walk to Southland, most of which is not under cover.

Walking from Cheltenham station to Southland shopping centre

(Note the size of the road sign for Nepean Highway compared to the pedestrian. Has anybody ever studied the impact of these signs on the walking environment?)

If you want the main section (on the eastern side of the highway) you’ll face pedestrian-hostile traffic lights to cross up to eight lanes of traffic (plus service roads). Some people don’t even use the traffic lights, instead crossing mid-block — not something I’d recommend.

Outside Southland shopping centre

Or you could ride your bike. Nepean Highway has service lanes which are better for nervous cyclists than the main traffic lanes. But few of the east-west roads have bike lanes. And it appears the cyclist parking is inadequate — when I went past, it was all filled up.

Insufficient bicycle parking at Southland

These conditions are precisely why a station makes so much sense.

When precisely does the station open?

The official PTV notice says:

You’ll be able to start using the station from the first service on Sunday 26 November 2017.

So, what’s the first service on a Sunday, given the all-night trains on weekends?

In the world of public transport, the end of the day is 3am. The timetables tick over; so does Myki (the 2-hour fares lasting all night after 6pm ends at 3am).

A look at the Frankston line timetables also indicates that the first trains serve the station after 3am on Sunday morning: 3:41am Frankston-bound, and 4:12am citybound (the train one hour earlier starts its journey at 2:44am, so is considered to be on Saturday night).

A more civilised time to go and look than 3:41am might be after 9:30am.

Join us on Sunday 26 November 2017 to celebrate the opening of Southland Station.

Be amongst the first to experience the new station and enjoy a free coffee and BBQ breakfast in the station forecourt, between 9.30am and 11.30am.

I’ve waited a long time for this. It’ll be great to see it open.

PS. If you’re wondering about the station code