PTV unified rebranding – pros, cons, and is it the last ever?

The PTV logo is gradually replacing the Metlink and Viclink logos across the public transport network.

Patterson station: PTV and Metlink

It’s just the latest rebranding — remember, some trains and stations have had up to seven different logos in the last 20 years… from the old The Met three-pronged logo, to the newer Met logos, to Hillside/Bayside trains, to Connex/M>Train, then unified all to be Connex, then Metlink/Connex, then Metlink/Metro.

Obviously it all costs money, so hopefully there won’t be any more rebranding in the near future. Could we at least try and go a couple of decades with the current logo?

PTV livery tram

Unlike the Metlink logos, the PTV ones are much more prominent on vehicles, and for the first time will (eventually) result in common branding for buses. This is not a bad thing — it helps inform and remind people that we actually have one network, rather than a bunch of independent, disparate routes… helped of course if network service planning is done properly.

I was watching a documentary on London Underground the other week, and it remarked that they realised common branding was an important thing back in 1933! We almost got there in the days of The Met in the 80s, but back then, it was only trams, trains and government-owned buses that were in green and yellow. Private buses kept their own colours. This time, they’re included. Here’s a bus run by Transdev (formerly Melbourne Bus Link) spotted last week — at first glance, there is no indication at all of the operating company.

Transdev Melbourne bus in full PTV colours

Some people have noted that a lot of passengers use the current differing bus operator colours to easily tell when their bus is coming — unlike trams and trains, buses have for a long time been run by different companies, with different colours.

I suppose passengers will have to start more carefully checking the route number. What would make this easier is if buses consistently had route numbers not just on the front, but also on the side and rear of the vehicle. Some buses have this already, but others don’t. And some front displays are not particularly readable. Improvements can be made.

PTV: it’s more than just rebranding, but will it make a difference?

PTV bus stop signMuch of the tram and bus stop signage around the CBD was modified over the weekend, with PTV (Public Transport Victoria) logos replacing the Metlink logos. And the Metlink web site now forwards to a reskinned (but essentially identical, so far) PTV web site.

But it would be a mistake to assume this is just a rebranding exercise.

PTV is the trading name of the Coalition government’s Public Transport Development Authority, which describes itself thus:

Public Transport Victoria is the statutory authority that administers Victoriaโ€™s train, tram and bus services. It provides a single contact point for customers wanting information on public transport services, fare, tickets and initiatives.

PTV was established in April 2012 with the aim of improving public transport in Victoria by:

  • Ensuring better coordination between modes
  • Facilitating expansions to the network
  • Auditing public transport assets
  • Promoting public transport as an alternative to the car
  • Acting as a system authority for all public transport and an advocate for public transport users.

In terms of who’s in PTV, primarily it’s made up from a merger of the Public Transport Division of the Department of Transport, and Metlink (whch, it must be remembered, was purely a marketing and comms organisation).

Eventually (when the dust has settled on Myki) it’ll include the Transport Ticketing Authority as well. It’s got a CEO (Ian Dobbs) who replaces the former Director of Public Transport (Hector McKenzie), and a board of directors, which (within 12 months of establishment) should include a community representative. Other than that, we don’t know a great deal about the internal structure yet.

Dobbs was head of the Public Transport Corporation in the 90s, under Kennett. Some cynics think this may be the sign of a slash and burn strategy coming up, but I’m thinking (glass-half-full, and remembering that this government came to power in part because it promised to improve public transport) it may mean he’s just good at implementing government policy and finding efficiencies… remembering of course that things like the abolition of guards on trains in the 90s enabled more frequent train services on weekends.

(Maybe you kids don’t remember when Sunday trains were every 40 minutes all day. From April 22nd, they’ll be every ten minutes on the three busiest lines. And weekend trains are double the length of those in the 90s, so we’ll have 8 times the capacity.)

Of course, working underneath Dobbs is essentially the same workforce that was previously there in PTD and Metlink. So it is unclear how much things will change.

Why not call it “Metlink”?

They wanted a statewide name, not a metropolitan-centric one.

OK then, why not “Viclink”?

Dunno, but Viclink isn’t the best ever name, is it.

Will it make a difference?

Too early to say. The goals sound good, and I know from having met him that Dobbs has some good ideas and a determination to make a positive difference… but watch this space.

Metlink’s revenue protection plan

Metlink Network Revenue Protection Plan coverThe Metlink Revenue Protection Plan published by The Age on Saturday had some interesting points. Some notes I made while looking through it (some of which were not included in the article):

Page 12 seems to accept that in most cases, more staff will reduce most types of evasion. Can’t argue with that — most types of automated checking (eg validators and fare gates) can’t catch evaders:

(Strategies to reduce evasion include) Increased staffing, improve use and deployment of staff.

Page 14 spells out that the policy is not to fine people who don’t re-validate their already valid tickets:

By law, passengers are required to validate a ticket before every journey, and it is desirable to encourage this behaviour where possible, particularly in the light of the impending new ticketing system. However, it is not intended to enforce this by issuing a RONC in cases where an otherwise valid ticket has been initially validated but not re-validated for that journey as this behaviour is not classified as fare evasion.

This one issue is likely to continue to be vexed under the new ticketing system.

Page 21 considers attitudes to Authorised Offices and fines, noting that most people consider the size of fine is “out of touch”. Can only agree. $174 for a first fare evasion offence; and it goes up from there. The problem is a lot of regular evaders don’t get caught, so they’ve made the fine high to try and convince people to pay. I think a lower fine, with more regular checking, is a better way to cut evasion rates.

Customers also believe the size of the fine is ‘out of touch’ with the magnitude of the offence.

Page 26 notes that the ticket system needs to be easy to understand, and consistent (maybe they should fix the first validation requirement on Myki Short Term tickets bought from railway station machines then):

Depending on where you are in the system, as a consumer you will be faced with differences in ticket range, methods of payment, customer information and with a ticket which may be validated or not.

Page 47 spells out that the CBD station gates are staffed only from 7am to 10pm. This was written by Connex, under their contract, but it doesn’t seem to have changed under Metro (I need to check the contract though).

…all CBD barriers are under supervision by staff from 7.00am to 10.00pm daily…

I find it surprising and disappointing they don’t staff until the last train, given large numbers of people still in the CBD most nights – surely consistency is important to remind people that you must have a ticket, no matter what time you’re travelling?

And what happens when they close off the Elizabeth Street exit to Flinders Street after 10pm, and leave it unstaffed? This:

Flinders Street Station, when the Elizabeth Street exit is closed at night

Page 52 says there are only 12 bus AOs for the whole of Victoria. Mind you, most bus tickets get checked by the driver, so evasion is low, and is mostly concession fraud rather than not having a ticket at all.

The majority of offences detected on buses relate to concession eligibility.

…the Bus Association of Victoria has employed 12 full-time AOs to help reduce fare evasion across Melbourne and Regional Victoria.

Page 54: Did they really not gazette (eg introduce into law) the Myki Fares+Ticketing Manual until well after Myki commenced on regional town buses?! That’s weird.

There have been no reports of non compliance submitted since myki has commenced trialling, as the myki fares and ticketing manual has not been gazetted.

Page 57 talks about V/Line, but makes no mention of problems with conductors being unable to walk through multiple-unit V/Locity trains to check tickets on the whole train. So on long trains they can only move through by swapping carriages at stations.

Page 66 includes the total network-wide cost of fare evasion: $62,018,697 million per year, as-of the first half of 2009. The biggest cost is on trams ($35 million), followed by trains ($21.5 million) and buses ($5.5 million).

Fare evasion costs

Page 72 notes that only around 2.39% of tram passengers get their tickets checked by Authorised Officers. It also includes figures for other modes (pages 67-72), but remember, on buses almost all tickets are checked by bus drivers as well, and on trains most passengers going through CBD and other major stations effectively get their tickets checked at the gates.

The difference on trams is that tickets are only checked by AOs. So in other words, on any tram trip, you’ve only got a 1 in 41 chance of getting your ticket checked. No wonder tram fare evasion is costing the most of the three modes.

Navigation

A few years ago I did a comparison of the results from online trip planners. Here’s an update of sorts.

I tested 247 Flinders Lane (which is an address on a one-way street, in an area with lots of turn restrictions and pedestrian streets) to see what the various navigators would do. For the destination I just put Bentleigh (my neighbourhood).

Yahoo Maps couldn’t give me an answer, reporting that “Driving directions cannot be determined between these locations”. I tried giving it a specific destination, but it wouldn’t do it.

Google Maps directionsGoogle Maps:

1. Head west on Flinders Ln towards Flinders Way    0.1 km
2. Turn right at Elizabeth St    0.1 km
3. Take the 1st right on to Collins St    0.5 km
4. Turn right at Russell St    0.2 km
5. Turn right at Flinders St    0.2 km
6. Take the 1st left on to St Kilda Rd    4.6 km
7. Turn left at Fitzroy St    77 m
8. Turn right at St Kilda Rd    1.3 km
9. Continue onto Brighton Rd    1.9 km
10. Continue onto Nepean Hwy    4.1 km
11. Slight left at Centre Rd    1.5 km

Google decided that just entering the suburb for the destination would go to the post office.

The directions are pretty good, but St Kilda Junction confused it; you don’t (you can’t) turn at Fitzroy Street when headed southbound; you turn briefly onto Punt Road, which then leads you onto St Kilda Road.

Whereis:

1. Continue on Flinders La, Melbourne – head towards Degraves St
2. Turn left onto Degraves St, Melbourne at Punt Hill
3. Turn left onto Flinders St, Melbourne
4. Turn right onto Swanston St, Melbourne at Young & Jackson Hotel
5. Continue along St Kilda Rd, Melbourne at Arintji Cafe & Bar
6. Veer right onto Punt Rd, St Kilda
7. Continue along St Kilda Rd, St Kilda
8. Continue along Brighton Rd, St Kilda
9. Continue along Nepean Hwy, Elsternwick at McDonalds
10. Veer left onto Ramp, Brighton East
11. Continue along Brewer Rd, Brighton East
12. At the roundabout – take the 2nd exit onto Brewer Rd, Bentleigh
13. Arrive at Brewer Rd, Bentleigh

Curiously it’s led me to somewhere well outside the logical centre of Bentleigh, though it might be the geographic centre of the suburb.

It figured out St Kilda Junction, but got the initial directions completely wrong, directing me to turn into Degraves Street, which is mostly closed to traffic, and then to do an illegal right hand turn from Flinders St into Swanston St. I kinda like the use of landmarks for directions though.

Bing/MSN maps:

1. Depart -37.81673, 144.96600 on Flinders Ln (West)
2. Turn LEFT (South) onto King St  (0.1 km)
3. Road name changes to Kings Way  (2.3 km)
4. Bear RIGHT (South) onto Queens Rd  (2.0 km)
5. Turn LEFT (East) onto Union St  (0.4 km)
6. Turn RIGHT (South) onto Punt Rd  (0.3 km)
7. Keep STRAIGHT onto St Kilda Rd  (1.3 km)
8. Road name changes to Brighton Rd  (1.9 km)
9. Keep LEFT onto Nepean Hwy  (4.1 km)
10. Keep LEFT onto Centre Rd  (1.5 km)
11. Turn RIGHT (South) onto Loranne St  (0.0 km)
12. Arrive -37.91806, 145.03544  (0.0 km)

This one has also led me to the post office. Unlike the others it preferred Kingsway to St Kilda Road, but I can’t see any flaws with its logic, though it did decide I should go all the way along Union Street to Punt Road — that may well be faster than turning off Union Street at St Kilda Road.

And for non-drivers, how about Metlink’s journey planner?

From 247 Flinders Lane (Melbourne City)    
Walk about 220 metres to Flinders Street Railway Station (Melbourne City)

1. Continue along  Royston Pl   20 m  about 1 min
2. Turn right at  Flinders Lane   80 m  about 2 min
3. Turn right at  Swanston St   120 m  about 2 min
4. Continue along  St Kilda Rd   10 m  about 1 min
5. Arr:  10:08 am  To Flinders Street Railway Station (Melbourne City)  210 m  4 min

DEP: 10:08 am  Flinders Street Railway Station (Melbourne City) Platform 8
Take the train towards Frankston — Time 21 min
ARR: 10:29 am

Get off at Bentleigh Railway Station (Bentleigh) Platform 2    

DEP: From Stop Bentleigh Railway Station (Bentleigh)
Walk about 50 metres Time 7 min
10:36 am To Bentleigh (Bentleigh)

Metlink decided “Bentleigh” meant a street next to the railway station. Not sure why.

The instructions to walk to the station assume that Royston Place is a thoroughfare; It’s a deadend; you can’t get to Flinders Street station that way. Update: Ah, it assumed I was starting in Royston Place, not walking through it. Not sure why it would do that though. And it didn’t send me via the quickest pedestrian route, which is the Degraves Street subway.

But the train trip itself is correct.

Unknown why it thinks it’ll take 7 minutes to walk 50 metres at the end of the trip. Maybe it’s adding a bit in case the train is late, or you have to wait for a train at the level crossing.

So, Bing gave the best result. All the others appear to need some attention.

The Metcard mess, and what Metlink does

I was going to write a blog post about yesterday’s Metcard kerfuffle, in particular pointing out that despite my initial speculation, the Transport Act only requires passengers to make a reasonable attempt to buy and validate your ticket.

It doesn’t require you to buy another ticket if yours doesn’t work, carry spare change, plead with passengers for change, and finally get off the tram if no alternative is available. That appears to be bad advice given to both the Authorised Officers (inspectors) and Metlink staff in this case. It is well beyond what is “reasonable”. It’s also illogical; nobody would have the expectation that, having bought the ticket and tried it unsuccessfully in two validators, they might get fined.

In the case of this punter, it appears his ticket may have been faulty, and was taken away for investigation, and he was told twice, separately, completely the wrong thing about what he should have done to avoid a fine. Messy.

What Metlink does

Rather than rant some more about that case, instead I’m just going to point this out this little factoid which often escapes peoples attention:

Metlink is a marketing body. It provides information. That’s all they do.

It doesn’t run services. It doesn’t plan timetables*. It doesn’t manage Authorised Officers. It doesn’t issue fines. It doesn’t review or revoke fines. It doesn’t run the ticketing system. It doesn’t handle complaints against operators.

You could be forgiven for thinking they do more — the arrangements are quite confusing. In this case alone, you’ve got Yarra Trams (who run the service and employ the Authorised Officers), the state government (who authorise the Authorised Officers, write the legislation they act under, and review the Reports Of Non-Compliance that the AOs write, and decide if they’ll result in fines), OneLink (who operates the Metcard system), Metlink (to whom the passenger made enquiries about it).

I wish I could explain all this with a diagram, but I don’t have the time to draw one up. Instead, here’s an official (though obscure) diagram of how the trains are managed. (And this one is more about operations and maintenance, so it excludes most of the other bodies above.)

Connex Franchise structure

No wonder people are confused, and why some are calling for reform of how PT is managed.

*Actually, it appears that nobody co-ordinates timetables across modes, which is why trams and buses and trains connect so badly. Well, apart from a handful of bus/train and bus/tram connections that are so rare they have a special name.