Arnotts Shapes

Public transport Shapes

This went super viral, at least by my standards. It started off as a reply to a Tweet from Tosh Greenslade (from Mad As Hell) – he pointed out a similar slogan, then I realised the BBQ Shapes box design is near identical to the livery on the trams.

Someone suggested a look at the other modes… and it grew from there.

On Twitter it got plenty of Likes and Retweets, but the Facebook post in particular has gone gangbusters: in the first 24 hours, over 2000 likes, 2600 comments (many are people tagging others as a way of forwarding), and 4300 shares.

At some stage, V/Line shared it, asking: “Pizza shapes are everyoneโ€™s favourite, right? ๐Ÿ• ๐Ÿš† “

Then the Premier’s Office asked if they could post it too, so it ended up on Facebook again, and Instagram.

That triggered articles from the Herald Sun, and Broadsheet, and a spoof from the Watsonia Bugle. The PT Ombudsman had a go, and even the public transport professionals on Linked In seemed to like it.

Eventually Arnott’s responded… though I’m not sure they quite hit the mark.

I’m quite amused and astounded at how fast and far this spread. As of Sunday morning, five days after posting, Facebook reckons my post alone has been seen by 851,020 people.

I wish I understood the formula for viral posts. I guess some stuff just is, and some isn’t.

Who had it first?

With at least some of the patterns being a close match, it’s pretty amusing that the colours also match up so well.

The Barbecue and Pizza flavours in particular really are similar to the PTV patterns for trams and V/Line. The others a little less so – the biscuit shapes shown on the boxes are less geometric.

How long has Arnott’s used this design? It looks like it’s less than five years old – the archived version of their web site from 2013 shows (as far as I can see from the low resolution images) that back then the boxes were plainer, without the patterns.

The PTV design originated with Metro in 2009, and was subsequently adopted for the other modes in 2012. I don’t know for sure, but it seems not unreasonable to assume that the geometric shapes were influenced by the design of Federation Square.

The colours had been first used by Metlink around 2004, but appear to have been inspired by colours used since early in the 20th century.

PTV-liveried train, tram and bus

Multimodal branding

The Shapes viral image raised some chuckles, but has also got a few people thinking about the branding of public transport – and the importance of presenting a united network across separate modes.

One weakness of PTV’s branding is that the logo isn’t a great one, so the geometric pattern in different colours is what binds the modes together, which in turn makes it difficult to then use colours to distinguish major lines, for instance to match the train map.

Contrast this to say London where the TfL/Underground logo is incredibly strong, allowing the Tube lines to easily take different colours – shown not just on the map but also on the trains, platforms, interchange wayfinding signage, all over the place.

Of course good branding doesn’t mean good service – a lot more work needs to be done to bring poor services up to scratch.

On Thursday night I had a PTUA Committee meeting. So I went prepared.

Bus zone

The circle is broken. But…

You might recall I had put in a request to Vicroads to resolve a 13 year old problem with a local bus zone.

The bus zone hours hadn’t been updated since last decade. In 2006 the operating hours of bus route 701 were extended so it runs until after 9pm in the evening, and Sunday service was introduced for the first time.

Vicroads replied and said they had passed the query to PTV.

Then PTV replied and said they had passed the query to City of Glen Eira.

I was waiting for the inevitable next step: for Glen Eira to refer it to Vicroads. But no!

Sometime in the past couple of weeks, they’ve fixed it. Behold, the new signage.

Bus stop for route 701, Jasper Road

And yet, this raises some concerns.

Someone actually bothered to look up the timetable. The last bus of the night is scheduled for 10:03pm on weeknights, heading to Bentleigh. So they made the bus zone end at 10:15pm.

But they messed up. Bus services actually start just before 6am. The first service of the day is scheduled at 5:59am on weekdays, heading to Oakleigh.

And their research missed that this stop is regularly used for train replacement buses during planned works. When those run, the last service is at about 1am on weeknights, and there are all night services on weekends.

This last occurred in July.

Bus stop, Jasper Road, Bentleigh (Patterson)

Why not just make the bus zones 24/7? A few hundred metres south, I found this brand new bus zone for recently added bus route 627, a route with similar operating hours, which is 24/7. And this stop isn’t used for train replacement buses.

Bus zone, route 627, Jasper Road

24/7 bus zones, particularly where people are unlikely to park anyway:

  • help remove ambiguity for motorists
  • make the signs more readable
  • are future-proofed against future bus timetable changes
  • cope with train replacements and other circumstances that might see buses needing to stop there at unexpected times.

And why separate AM and PM? I think this just makes the signs harder to scan/read.

In fact, on one of the revised signs, the new Bus Zone hours format is inconsistent with the existing adjacent stopping rules. Ingenious!

Bus zone, route 701, Jasper Road

Have you looked at the bus zones in your neighbourhood? What do they say? Do they actually cover the bus operating hours?

Do local motorists observe the bus stops? Some bus stops are unsigned, meaning 24/7 parking restrictions apply.

Given these bus zones as now signed don’t actually cover bus operating hours – not even the regular route – I’ll try and send feedback to the City of Glen Eira and see what they do next. (Tried this morning – their web site spat out an error.)

It’s a little depressing that collectively, three authorities had to play Pass The Parcel with this, and when it’s finally got done, it’s been messed up.

If they can’t get the little things right, what hope is there for the big stuff?

A year in the new car

Sorry PT fans, this is a blog about driving.

I’ve had the new car, a 2017 Mitsubishi Lancer bought brand new, a year now, and have got to just on 10,000 kilometres so far.

The average in Australia is about 15,000 km per year, but some drive a lot further. My past average is about 7-8K, but circumstances (principally one son who just got his licence) has us driving more than in the past.

I’m liking the car. The only thing I don’t like is the rear spoiler. I think it looks a tad silly, I doubt it has great aerodynamic benefits, and it partially blocks the view from the rear vision mirror and when doing a left shoulder check.

Rear view mirror with spoiler getting in the way

Taking off the spoiler is theoretically easy. You just unbolt it. But filling the bolt holes is the tricky bit, especially in such a way that it’s not noticeable and doesn’t let leaks in. The car dealer even suggested checking spare parts places/wreckers for a replacement boot lid might be easier.

I suspect the base model Lancer only had the spoiler to try and put off people like me who are grown ups and don’t really want a spoiler and should probably spend more on a car… but my fiscal sensibilities defeated them. And judging from the people I see driving the same model of car, I’m not the only one.

Aside from the unwanted spoiler, no issues with the car, other than being new I feel like I have an obligation to keep it clean, which is tricky, especially with a gravel driveway that has lost most of its gravel. Might be time for a top-up.

There has been a minor mishap (a low speed bump with a parking sign) necessitating a surprisingly expensive repair. But hey, I wasn’t driving it. Protip: if you have a large insurance excess, get a quote first; it may not be worth claiming.

Given the car often sits in the driveway for many days at a time, I’m also pondering if I should sign up for Car Next Door, but we now have another driver in the house.

Learning to drive

I taught my younger son to drive. The elder isn’t interested just yet.

This was an interesting experience. He had a number of paid lessons as well, and our practice drives complemented them nicely.

What we agreed was really valuable was that we tried lots of different types of road. Freeways for instance don’t get a lot of love for learner drivers in Bentleigh/Moorabbin, because there aren’t any nearby. The art of entering a freeway (matching the existing traffic speed) is important, and seems to be lost on some motorists.

One one drive we cruised around Elwood, taking in narrow streets, cobble-stoned laneways, and the fords of Foam Street and Wave Street.

Dirt road near Seymour

On another drive we hit the CBD late on a Sunday afternoon and got in a hook turn, the roundabout of death, driving safely around trams, and that tricky road on the northern side of Melbourne University – where I once saw a motorist stop dead in the middle of an intersection out of sheer confusion.

And, surprisingly close to home, we found a dirt road (not the one pictured above), to sample the reduced grip of an unsealed surface – plentiful in rural areas.

Come test day, he passed first time – and of course with each drive, he gets better.

Nobody’s perfect of course, but he tells me that now he’s driving himself, he’s surprised at how many bad drivers there are on the roads. Yeah, ain’t that the truth.

Car console display

Car fuel consumption

I switched the information display on the console to display how many litres per 100 kilometres we’re using.

It looks like typically about 6-8 litres if driving with the air-conditioning off; about 8-10 with it on. Short drives are evidently less efficient; long freeway drives bring the fuel consumption down – as long as it’s not congested.

Choice has an interesting article on driving for fuel efficiency.

Of course the best way to cut fuel use is not to drive and the long term habit in our family is to consider carefully which transport mode we use, rather than jump in the car every time. We’re lucky to have viable choices for many of our trips.

Cost per kilometre

Given I now have an actual (not forecast) number of the kilometres per year, 10,000, I can re-calculate my estimated costs per kilometre:

  • Depreciation 11.1 cents
  • Insurance 7.1 cents
  • Registration 8.2 cents
  • Servicing 2.3 cents (thanks to fixed price in the first 3 years)
  • Petrol 10.8 cents

That’s a total of 39.5 cents per kilometre.

Based on 8000 kilometres per year, it was 43.9 cents per kilometre, so as you can see, the more you use it, the cheaper it gets, as the fixed costs such as insurance and rego don’t change.

Old photos from July 2009

Another in my series of photos from ten years ago.

This month: July 2009.

Then-metropolitan train operator Connex was advertising the addition of more station staff around the network.

Connex Melbourne sign advertising additional station staff, July 2009

Frankston station. I think the construction was an upgrade to the bus interchange… which was all replaced again in 2018.

Works at Frankston station, July 2009

Mordialloc station (I think)

Mordialloc station, July 2009

Richmond station, before the entirety of the platforms got shelter.

Richmond station, July 2009

The old Bentleigh station, before the crossing was removed, with its almost unique red man and “Another train coming” displays.

Bentleigh station, July 2009

A non-transport photo: the Bentleigh Priceline made me laugh, with its placement of weight management and confectionery in the same aisle.

Priceline Bentleigh, July 2009

Fears of distraction from mobile phones aren’t new – but back then, they thought you might be making a phone call, rather than staring at the screen.

Be Alert And Don't Get Hurt advertising, July 2009

New sensors had started being fitted to the Metcard gates in preparation for the introduction of Myki at the end of 2009. This is the Elizabeth Street entrance to Flinders Street Station.

Flinders Street Station (Elizabeth Street entrance), July 2009

Advertising for tram and bus lanes. Yeah, we could do with more of those. Lanes that is (and enforcement), not advertising.

Advertising for bus and tram priority, July 2009

Victoria Street, Abbotsford – the Skipping Girl sign.

Skipping Girl sign, July 2009

Walking around Carnegie

You always spot more stuff on foot than you would when driving.

On Saturday morning I walked over to the new 627 bus route and caught it up to Murrumbeena, before walking home via Carnegie, my old neighbourhood.

The bus wasn’t packed, but a few people were using it, including some boarding and alighting at stops along East Boundary Road, which didn’t previously have any bus service. Not too bad given the unspectacular 40 minute weekend frequency and the fact that the route has only been running a few weeks.

Bus 627 approaching Murrumbeena

Perhaps surprisingly for a Saturday, more people hopped off to go to Murrumbeena station (or possibly the local shopping centre) than stayed on the bus for Chadstone.

Murrumbeena station

Nearby is this bus shelter. It’s clean, free of graffiti, has good sight lines, and provides reasonable wind/rain protection. Up-to-date advertising shows it is actively maintained, and it’s still signed as a 24/7 bus zone. The only thing it doesn’t haveโ€ฆ is buses. The stop moved closer to the station last year.

Former bus stop, Murrumbeena Road, Murrumbeena

Under the skyrail there were plenty of people cycling or walking along the shared path, and also some doing exercise. During my time in Murrumbeena (1987-88 and 2003-05) I don’t remember many people walking along the railway line like this, even where the path was provided.

Underneath the skyrail, near Murrumbeena looking towards Carnegie

Anecdata like this isn’t data, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder, of course. But to me it looks like a pretty good outcome in terms of usable community space, which wasn’t possible when the line was at ground level, and wouldn’t have been possible with a rail trench.

Of course, one could speculate that the fear campaign forced the authorities to work harder on a good outcome. (It certainly didn’t result in an electoral backlash.)

Skyrail - near Carnegie station, looking towards Murrumbeena

In Carnegie, another bus stop: why would they put the useful information (the timetable) on the side that can’t be seen from the seat/paved area? (The other side has a generic “Catching a bus with Myki is easy” notice.)

Bus stop, Koornang Road, Carnegie

Also in Carnegie, I found this. I know I may be slightly colourblind, but I’m pretty sure this is not a yellow line.

Shepparson Avenue, Carnegie