Bentleigh station isn’t finished

Now that we’ve finished talking about names of yet-to-be-built stations, let’s talk about some recently built ones.

Last Saturday a steam train ran to celebrate a year (and a bit) since the new Bentleigh/McKinnon/Ormond stations re-opened, following level crossing removals.

But while they’ve now been in use for well over a year, the stations aren’t actually finished.

Even leaving aside the controversial Ormond tower, there are numerous little things that haven’t been completed.

Bike cage at Bentleigh station

The bike cages at Ormond and McKinnon seem to be in use (after some delays), but the one at Bentleigh is suspiciously empty, leading me to believe the issues with its construction are still not resolved — though Bentleigh is listed on the Parkiteer web site.
— Update: LXRA tells me that in fact, the bike cage is in service. Perhaps they need to promote that fact.

McKinnon station retail space
Retail space at Bentleigh station

The retail space at Bentleigh and McKinnon hasn’t been leased… it hasn’t even been fitted out! I’m told this is in VicTracks’ hands. This should be a prime location. How much revenue (that could offset the project cost) has been foregone? (Ormond doesn’t have such a space.)
— Update: LXRA tells me the fit-out won’t happen until a tenant is found.

Bentleigh station Smartbus sign, not working

The Smartbus signs at Bentleigh still aren’t operational. The eastbound sign hasn’t been fully working since 2011 when the train departure times were switched off. It was removed completely for the level crossing removals, and then put back — but even the bus times are not displayed at present. Its smaller twin (with space for bus times only) for westbound buses doesn’t work either.

Small recreation area between Bentleigh and McKinnon stations

The small picnic area between Bentleigh and McKinnon appeared to be completed, and was looking nice, until recently when someone took away the benches. Only the rubbish bin has been left. It’s not clear why, nor if it’s permanent.
— Update: LXRA tells me the removal of the picnic facilities is permanent, and was the council’s decision.

Bentleigh station platform 3

Also of note: some pretty sloppy work that has left drainage problems on platform 3 at Bentleigh…

Footpath opposite Bentleigh station

…and on the south-east side of the bridge.
— Update: LXRA tells me the council signed-off on the work on the bridge footpath, so essentially it’s up to them to fix it!

And: Liberal Bentleigh candidate Asher Judah has posted this on Twitter, about the Smartbus sign:

Update: After a shaky start, the Smartbus sign at Bentleigh station resumed operation (for bus times, not train times):

Mckinnon, site of a pivotal moment in the railway security debate, looks set to get PSOs #SpringSt

Mckinnon station was the site an infamous incident in 2010 that perhaps, more than any other, solidified popular support for the state Coalition’s policy of two Protective Service Officers on every station after 6pm. It was an unusual event, but very frightening for those involved: passengers coming home from Friday night football.

Passengers had to fend for themselves for several minutes as the train sat idle while a mob brandished broken bottles and hurled rocks at the windows.

Passengers who were attacked by a group of youths have questioned why they had to defend themselves for so long, only for the train to move on once police reached the scene, carrying away dozens of potential witnesses with it.

Police defend train attack response

I would think it’s entirely likely that the presence of PSOs would have nipped this in the bud, or prevented it from happening entirely.

So it’s significant that Mckinnon’s PSO pod looks to be complete. There might be internal works going on, but I won’t be surprised if PSOs start duty there soon.

Mckinnon station: new PIDs and PSO pod on the platform

As I’ve written before, the anecdotal evidence is the increasing presence of PSOs is increasing public confidence in the railway system at night… but it’s not clear if this is translating into increased patronage. Time will tell if this and other measures help (a few years ago, evening trains on this line went from 30 to 20 minutes until about 10pm, for instance).

One incident in a blue moon doesn’t necessarily justify a permanent, two-person, armed presence, of course. It remains a concern that at relatively quiet stations like this, little or nothing will happen, while other stations continue to suffer through security incidents, including before 6pm when there is no security presence. (The 2009 stats showed just one assault recorded at Mckinnon, and it was before 6pm.)

There’s still an argument to be made that security around stations is better and more cost-effectively served by fulltime regular staff, backed up by a rapid response force that can be quickly deployed when required, along with a fulltime security presence at hotspot stations where security is a genuine concern, as well as more patrols on the trains themselves.

Meanwhile, PIDs (Passenger Information Displays) are also appearing at Frankston line stations. Bentleigh got them last week (on the main two platforms only; not on little-used platform 3), and as you can see in the picture, they’ve also been installed (but are not yet running) at Mckinnon. Hopefully this will be part of upgrades at every station along the line — it is likely to be of more long-lasting benefit than the lick of paint stations are getting.

At Bentleigh the PIDs is a nice accompaniment to the “rainbow” network status board, though notably the Smartbus sign just outside the station still isn’t showing train times after more than three years.

As with all such useful upgrades (particularly the 7-day 10 minute frequencies, but also the improved realtime information) the hope would be that in time it gets pushed onto all the other lines and stations.

Of course, truly reliable services, and good, frequent, connecting buses remain elusive.

Mckinnon’s only #Myki reader – queues getting longer

So, let’s check back in at Mckinnon station, where the presence of only a single Myki reader on the main platform results in long queues every evening peak hour, as increasing numbers of Myki users wait to touch-off.

There’s plenty of space to put in additional Myki readers. But it still hasn’t happened yet, despite extras going in at the next and previous stations, Bentleigh and Ormond.

TTA, are you trying deliberately to annoy these people?

(Previous: late-March)

Update 24/4/2012: Yesterday work started on the installation of additional readers.