Under the clocks

Some of the clocks at Flinders Street Station need updating.

If they managed to update the leftmost clock to say “Pakenham and Cranbourne” (the Cranbourne line opened in 1995), why can’t they update the “St Albans” one to say “Sydenham”? (Actually, wait a year or two and then change it to “Sunbury“.)

Update 9am: Oh yeah, “Broadmeadows” also needs updating to “Craigieburn”.

Under the clocks

There’s no Altona line anymore (it was extended to Westona and Werribee in the 80s), but it’ll be useful for the Altona Loop trains to Laverton, which there’ll be more of from May. (I wonder if it will actually work?)

The clocks for the Burnley group lines are off to the left, where on this occasion, underneath one could also see some Authorised Officers booking someone for not having a ticket.

Under the clocks

Now… imagine the scandal if it was announced that the steps were to be abolished, to be replaced by a DDA-compliant ramp.

Update lunchtime: Niki pointed out in the comments what I didn’t even notice: the Epping and Hurstbridge lines aren’t represented, as until 1997, they departed across the road at Princes Bridge Station.

These photos from the 1950s show that the clocks have been swapped around over the years. The rightmost two used to be for the St Kilda and Port Melbourne lines. And many of them used to list the major destination, followed by the line name, for instance “Essendon – Broadmeadows line”.

Culture transport

Happy birthday, Flinders Street Station

The current Flinders Street Station is 100 years old today.

Flinders Street Station

Flinders Street Station as seen from Fed Square

Flinders Street Station - to platform 9

Rush hour at Flinders Street

There’s a newish book on the history of Flinders Street Station called Beyond the Facade by Jenny Davies. Recently I was walking through the Degraves Street subway and noticed a display for the book. Then something in one of the windows caught my eye; amongst the cartoons, a familiar logo:

Flinders St station history display

Below this was a copy of the press release marking the PTUA’s 30th anniversary.

The display continues until Saturday.

Also something I recently noticed underneath the concourse: Maybe the book would explain it, but I haven’t yet worked out why these archways are shaped like this:

Architecture, Flinders Street

Perhaps the ramps from the concourse down to the platforms (now replaced with escalators and lifts) necessitated the lower height on one side. Any other guesses?


Lest We Forget

Remembrance Day. 11am, 11/11/2009.

Lest We Forget: Remembrance Day in Melbourne (Zoom)

The big picture

books transport

The Example

The Example, by Tom Taylor and Colin Wilson (published by Gestalt Books), might be the first graphic novel to be set entirely within the confines of Flinders Street Station.

The Example - graphic novel cover

It’s a short but thought-provoking read, combining a most-of-Western-world issue — paranoia over terrorism — with a more decidedly local Melbourne issue: the trains.Thumbs up!

Speaking of terrorism and paranoia, the other book I’ve read recently is Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers, which was a terrific, if chilling, account of a man who stayed behind to help after Katrina, and got locked-up for it with no charge, no lawyer, no phone call.Thumbs up!

PTUA transport

Fining lots of people is not the solution to fare evasion

Melbourne’s tram operator also set a target of catching more than 60,000 commuters over a nine-month period.

— Herald Sun, 11/9/2009, “Tram inspectors pushed to meet their quotas

See, after all these years, they’re still going about it the wrong way.

I don’t think the deterrent of fines is really working. The measure of success or failure in revenue protection should be the occurrence of fare evasion, not the number of fines issued.

Flinders St/Degraves St unstaffedSuccess is found by making it easy for people to buy a ticket, and hard for them to avoid it. To a certain extent you can see this in these Metlink fare evasion stats (from August 2009, and which include concession fraud):

  • Train 7.6% — most people use a staffed station at least one end of their trip, and the biggest patronage growth is based around trips to/from a handful of gated CBD stations
  • Bus 6.2% — traditionally low because people have to pass the driver when boarding
  • Tram 13.0% — higher in part due to the fact that passengers are unlikely to get their tickets checked at all on most trips

If there’s a large number of fines being issued year after year, it probably means there are still lots of people evading, as you can bet only a fraction of them are being caught.

Simple things like can help a lot, like consistent staffing.

Here’s an example of where, for all the bluster about fare evasion, sometimes the operators just don’t take it seriously:

Back in 2006 I noticed the Degraves St subway gates weren’t being staffed most of the time. I took notes for about a month, and found no staff were present most of the time, even in peak hour. And I started to see people who were obviously looking around to find an open gate into Flinders Street to catch trains for free.

So I did what any fare-paying customer who is sick of seeing others having a free ride would do: I issued a press release and organised a Herald Sun story!

WHILE the Government subsidises a $1 million advertising blitz to shame fare evaders, tens of thousands of commuters are flowing through open barriers at Melbourne’s busiest train station.

— Herald Sun, 25/8/2006 — “Fare evaders find the gaps”

A Connex spokesperson blamed reduced staff numbers due to illness, but miraculously following that, everybody got better, and staffing of that exit jumped to 100%.

Degraves Street exit staffing graph

The operators shouldn’t need to be told this stuff via the newspapers. It should be obvious.

Random patrols and over-zealous fines haven’t worked. Put staff back on the system, make it easy to pay, and hard not to, and evasion will drop.

By the way: technically Inspectors are Authorised Officers, who are employees of the private operators who are authorised by the government with powers under Transport Act. And they don’t issue fines directly, they write out a Record Of Non-Compliance (RONC) which goes to the Department of Transport, which then decides whether or not to issue the fine. The operating company gets $30 from the fine.

books Net News and events

A buncha brief things

Some brief thoughts and half-arsed things that I can’t be bothered developing into fully-fledged blog posts:

Luz station, Sao PaoloLuz Station in Sao Paulo. Looks externally very similar to Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station, well if you don’t look too closely. Coincidence, or is one modelled on the other? Probably the former. I haven’t seen anything that suggests Luz has something similar to the front of FSS. (More pictures).

Thirteen Tonne Theory, Mark Seymour — the story of Hunters and Collectors. Very well written and very funny in parts, for instance the mentions of Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” having the same riff to “Holy Grail”. And interesting too if you’re familiar with the music and want to know the story behind it. (Reviews: Age, ABC).Thumbs up!

American Journeys, Don Watson — great stuff as Watson tours America by bus, car and train. Some interesting characters he meets, and me being me, I found his commentary on Amtrak particularly interesting, and his dealings with their call centre very amusing. (Age review; Interview with author).Thumbs up!

I am Masterchef of my domain.

Aveda manWhy does the Aveda web site have some bald guy making recommendations on hair products?

A while ago I pondered where Doctor John Carnie (Victoria’s Chief Health Officer) is while we’re dealing with a pandemic. Apparently he left to go on holiday just before the crisis blew up. Good timing!

If people think literacy is not a problem in Western countries, they should take a look at some of the comments on Youtube.