Photos from ten years ago Toxic Custard newsletter

Old photos from January 2005

Continuing my series of old photos from ten years ago

At the house in Carnegie, we had an old slide (which eventually got left there for whoever moved in after us) and a trampoline (which came with us, but in the end when we’d tired of it, got given to relatives who would use it more). Here I am mid-bounce, with my ancient Reg Mombassa Mambo for Greenpeace anti-car t-shirt.
Bouncing on the trampoline

Back when I did the all dishes by hand. Nowadays most of these would go in the dish washer. I love having a dish washer. The dish rack lasted me about ten years, but rust started to get to it, so it got replaced last year by a slightly smaller one that fits better in the space I have.

The train home from Warragul arrives. We’d gone down there for just a quick joy ride.
Warragul station

Asleep on the train home from Warragul. Well, probably pretending to sleep, getting one of the kids to snap the photo.
Asleep on the train home from Warragul

The Town Hall (Collins Street at Swanston Street) tram superstop opened in 2001. By 2003 route 109 had been extended to Box Hill. But by January 2005, the signs at the premier stop along the route still said Mont Albert. I think from memory I did send this photo around and eventually it got fixed. This type of thing eventually helped inspire the PTUA’s Problem Of The Day series in 2012-2013, highlighting mostly smallish public transport problems via photos.
Incorrect signage, Town Hall tram stop


The Daily Telegraph, the copied quotes, the problems they caused, and #MediaWatch

During my time involved with the PTUA, there’s been a policy to not comment on issues outside Victoria, for three main reasons:

  • It’s a Victorian organisation. There are local groups covering other parts of Australia.
  • You make media comment on stuff outside your knowledge at your peril.
  • It takes away effort from activism for and in Victoria.

So I was very surprised to discover some quotes of mine in the Sydney Daily Telegraph last week.

Sydney: Domestic airport station

INCONSIDERATE travellers putting their feet up on train seats have been fined $48,000 in the past year.

Daniel Bowen, president of the Public Transport Users Association said it was “completely appropriate” for people to be penalised for placing their feet on seats, however he said more should be done to educate people it was an offence in the first place.

“It would certainly make sense to have an awareness campaign not only to warn people of the fine but to ­discourage people from engaging in anti-social behaviour in the first place,” Mr Bowen said.

— Daily Telegraph, 24/3/2014: Rude travellers toe the line: 480 people fined for putting their feet on train seats

I only found out about it because at least two Sydney radio stations contacted the PTUA wanting further comments (and specifically, audio quotes to use in their bulletins).

I hadn’t given quotes to the reporter, but they sounded vaguely familiar, so I did a bit of Googling and found them in a 2012 Age story.

The situation in Sydney is unclear to me. I know from the story that 480 people were fined in a year (a tiny amount compared to 17,592 people fined in Victoria in a year).

But the offence in Victoria includes (basically) putting your feet anywhere that isn’t the floor. Is that the same in Sydney? Is there signage in Sydney? Are there education campaigns in Sydney?

I don’t know, and the PTUA office received at least one grumpy email from a Sydneysider noting that the comments were uninformed. Well, yeah.

The interest from radio and from Sydney punters meant that PTUA volunteers had to spend time dealing with the fallout from two-year-old quotes copied out of context.

Some people suggested I contact Media Watch. So I did.

Media Watch: Daily Telegraph copied quotes

If you missed the story, it’s online here.

I should note that in no time in my dealing with the Melbourne media (including Daily Telegraph stablemate the Herald Sun) have I experienced anything this dodgy.

Update 14/4/2014: With thanks to Peter (see comments below), Crikey is reporting today that Phil Jacob has resigned from the Daily Telegraph after other instances of plagiarism came to light.

A Crikey investigation has uncovered a series of highly questionable articles published in The Daily Telegraph that appear to borrow — liberally and in some cases word-for-word — from reports in other publications.

The reports were all penned by Daily Telegraph state political reporter Phil Jacob, who was slapped down on the ABC’s Media Watch program two weeks ago for lifting quotes from a report in The Age to illustrate a story about rail commuters. But it appears this wasn’t the only time Jacob has lifted copy from stories other than his own.

— Crikey [Paywall]

Photos from ten years ago PTUA transport

Photos from December 2003

Continuing my series of ten year old photos

The Christmas tram in Flinders Street
Christmas tram

Grumpy Daniel

Next, perhaps the most useless Melbourne public transport map ever produced.
It doesn’t show the most well-known location, the CBD, and shows very few others. It also has numerous errors, including: Implies Sandringham is next to Clayton. Implies Glen Waverley is east of Clayton (it’s actually north). Implies Box Hill is east of Glen Waverley (it’s northwest). Implies Belgrave is next to Box Hill (it isn’t). Williamstown is actually in zone 1. Many of the others are on the zone 1/2 boundary.
Hopeless public transport zone map

Playing totem tennis in the backyard in Carnegie. (Animated GIF created by
Playing totem tennis

A youthful looking me, on the news just before New Year’s Eve, warning of the chaos to come.
Daniel whinging about NYE

… You can read the full story on that here… or if you just want to know what happened:

Photos from ten years ago

Ten years ago: Pics from August 2003

Another in my collection of photos from ten years ago…

Murrumbeena, in the days of M>Train. I quite liked the logo and slogan (“Moving Melbourne”) — less sure about the colours, and of course the splitting of the network into different operators was silly.
Murrumbeena station, August 2003

2003 was probably the best fall of snow at Mount Donna Buang that I’ve ever seen.
Mount Donna Buang, 2003

A 360 degree (and a bit more) pan from the snow… click to see it bigger.
Mount Donna Buang, 2003

Yep, this is probably a tram. (That building in the background on the left is the Melbourne Sports Depot… which is now a big EB Games. See, the geeks have taken over from the jocks.)
"Probably a tram" (2003)

On the 26/8/2003, my first TV appearance on behalf of the PTUA. I was nervous as hell.
Daniel's first PTUA media, August 2003

PTUA transport

PT fare discounts you may not know about

From a conversation with my sister, an occasional PT user, I’m guessing there are some discounts around the place that people don’t know about. The good news is that with Myki being forced down everybody’s throats, if you can get over the hurdle of getting a card (now $6 full fare, $3 concession), it’s easier than ever before to get the discounts.

Bourke Street trams

This is just a summary, and is aimed at Melbourne, though some of the rules apply elsewhere in Victoria. There are various exclusions (for instance no free travel on some services such as Skybus or Countrylink). Click on the relevant link for all the details.

(And if you don’t understand how Myki works, and the difference between Myki Money and Myki Pass, go read this or this.)


Kids aged 3 and under ride for free.

Anybody with a permanent disability which means they can’t use tickets can get an Access Travel Pass, which means they ride for free.

Separately, there’s also a Scooter and Wheelchair Travel Pass which also provides free travel, and also a Vision Impaired Travel Pass.

There are various other free passes for (some) war veterans, companions/carers, and also some retired public transport staff.

There’s free travel on weekends for Victorian Seniors — see below.

Note that Myki cards need a positive balance (above zero) for the free travel to work (eg if you owe them money, you don’t get a free ride).


Concession fares are generally 50% of the full (adult) fare.

You can’t buy a concession Myki from a vending machine; you have to find a Premium station or retail outlet or buy online.

Kids from 4 to 16 can use a concession Myki (without needing a concession card to prove entitlement).

Kids 17 and older who are in fulltime study (secondary or tertiary) need to get a VPT (Victorian Public Transport) Student Concession Card (costing $9) to be eligible to use a concession Myki. You also need one of these if using a Student Pass (discounted 6-month or yearly ticket).

Anybody with a Health Care Card (with a Victorian address) can travel on concession fares — these cards are broadly available to people on limited incomes. This is helpful for some postgrad or part-time students who are ineligible for student concessions.

If you have a Victorian Seniors Card you can get a Seniors Myki, which gives concession fares on weekdays, capped to the Seniors Daily $3.60 fare (2013: $3.80), and free travel on weekends.

There are various other concessions for (some) war veterans and widows, and asylum seekers.

From interstate or overseas

Seniors from Interstate can use a standard concession Myki, but can’t get a Seniors Myki. It’s not clear to me if seniors from overseas are entitled to any discount at all — although this page implies all “non-Victorian” Seniors can get a concession Myki, but this is not reflected in the Fares & Ticketing Manual, which talks about Victorian and interstate/Australian seniors or pension card holders.

The rules for kids appear to apply to those from interstate or overseas — free rides for 3 and under, concession fares 4 to 16. No discount for 17 and over, as you have to be a student in Victoria.

Despite continuing campaigns, international students aren’t eligible for concessions.

Evening discounts

The rules about 2-hour tickets being valid all night after 6pm still apply to Myki: the fare applies until 3am.


Free rides apply on Metro electric train services if your trip is finished by 7am. You can’t just travel without a ticket; you have to get a Myki and touch-on and touch-off so you can prove your trip was finished.

(Although it’s advertised as 7am, technically the cut-off time is actually 7:15am; this is to allow for delayed trains. If your regular trip arrives at 7:10am, then you lucked out. Just don’t complain on the odd day it’s delayed and you have to pay. And don’t complain that you have to get a Myki and touch-on and touch-off to get the free travel. Boo hoo, you’re breaking my heart.)

Weekend and public holiday discounts

On weekends and public holidays, the old Sunday Saver/Weekend Saver discounts apply, meaning you pay no more than $3.30 for zones 1+2 (2013: $3.50). If you’ve been driving on the weekend to a zone 1 station to avoid the zone 1+2 fare, you might as well not bother.

Note that it applies on all gazetted Melbourne public holidays. This is a genuine improvement over Metcard, which didn’t offer public holiday discounts.

For Myki Pass single zone holders, you get a discount on the second zone if you use it. For some crazy reason it’s equal to the 2-hour fare from the zone you paid for, so a Zone 1 Passholder going into zone 2 on a weekend gets charged 2 cents: the weekend $3.30 cap minus the $3.28 2 hour zone 1 fare… (I think it would have made more sense to apply the per day Pass fare that was originally paid — $4.02 in the case of zone 1. Oh well.)

(2013: Both the Z1 2-hour fare and the weekend daily cap are now $3.50, so a full fare Z1 pass holder pays nothing extra to travel in Z2 on weekends.)

Free Mykis

Normally full fare Myki cards cost $6, and concessions $3.

But some types of Myki are issued free: these include the various free travel passes listed above, as well as to Victorian Seniors, and also Commuter Club (see below).

Bulk discounts

And of course the discounts most people do know about: if you’re travelling 4-5 days or more per week, check out Myki Pass options: 7 days (eg a weekly fare for the same price as 5 individual days using Myki Money) or 28-365 days.

And of course if you’re travelling most days and are prepared to pay a year in advance for the best discount possible, check if your employer offers Commuter Club (some will even offer it via salary deduction), or get it via the PTUA.

Beat the price rise

Another 5% + CPI rise has not yet been confirmed, but is expected in January. It used to be you could buy Metcards in advance to beat the rise. You can’t do this anymore — Myki Money fares are charged at the time you travel, not when you load the card.

But you can buy Myki Pass fares in advance. You can have two on a single Myki card at once; the current one and the next one.

And keep in mind if you want to buy a Commuter Club yearly to beat the price rise, orders take a couple of weeks to organise, and some organisations only place orders once a month…

When the price rise was officially announced last December, there was only about a fortnight during which Commuter Club orders were accepted at the 2011 price… in that fortnight the PTUA processed around 160 orders (most of them from new members), running the volunteers ragged by the end, and pumping over $180,000 through — it felt like we’d opened a money laundering service.

So if you’re going to order one, my advice is get in early.

So, what did I miss?

PTUA transport

Tonight’s PTUA AGM means today is my last day as Prez.

MX story 10/10/2012: Routes thrown for LoopTonight’s PTUA Annual General Meeting means today is my last day as President.

I’ll miss a lot of it, particularly dealing with the media, and meeting/discussing/debating with industry and political players (the former in particular often providing information that should be out in public, but isn’t.

(Over the years, I suspect, the media has been increasingly sympathetic as more and more journos, many of whom work in the CBD, have switched to using PT themselves.)

And I’ll definitely miss being able to help shape the debate – I’m thinking of the push towards frequent and better connected services, both ideas which are now generally agreed upon as needing fixing.

Without wishing to offend the good people in radio media, I can’t say I’ll miss the early morning radio calls, nor trying to juggle multiple things at once to do a live chat with Faine or Mitchell on the way to work (though I gotta say, live radio is a buzz — great for keeping you alert).

And while I’m always happy for a chat with people, those who just intently stare at me on the street… yeah, I won’t miss that so much.

What’s been fascinating is the shift away from the attitude that PT is only for the minority who can’t drive, plus CBD workers. It’s part of Melbourne’s transition to a big city, but organisations like PTUA have helped keep reminding governments that investment in better services has to keep up.

It will be critical for the new team to stay on message — to keep using the sort of language which the average punter sitting at home reading the paper or watching the news finds themselves agreeing with — whether they use PT or not themselves.


Thanks to those who got in touch (by whatever medium) when it was announced I was stepping down.

There were a lot of very nice tweets. If you’ll indulge me and let me stroke my own ego for a moment, here are some of my faves:

Farewell to Daniel Bowen after nearly 10 years at the Public Transport Users Association. A formidable advocate.
@metrotrains – 4:13 PM – 17 Sep 12

Congrats to Daniel Bowen on a decade of great advocacy for PT:…
@VeoliaTrans – 12:03 PM – 17 Sep 12
— that’s Veolia TransDev, a merger of former operators of Melbourne’s Connex and Yarra Trams (1999-2009)

After nearly 10 years, @ptua president Daniel Bowen will stand down as head of the commuter group. More in @mxmelbourne. @danielbowen
@mxmelbourne – 2:44 PM – 17 Sep 12
— for those not on the eastern seaboard, MX is the free afternoon commuter newspaper. Some deride their emphasis on showbiz news, but they do have a mix of wire stories and their small team of actual local reporters are good guys. PT passengers are their core demographic, and they’ve run many PTUA stories over the years.

Congratulations to @danielbowen. Stepping down after (almost) ten years as voice of the commuter. Many could learn from his approachability!
@gboreham – 1:19 PM – 17 Sep 12
— Gareth Boreham is the former state political reporter for channel 10, including during the height of the trains crisis. Gareth’s comment on approachability is an important one for volunteer activist groups to remember. Mainstream media works to deadlines. For maximum effectiveness you need to understand and work within those deadlines, and foster good working relationships with the journos.

Final projects

In the past couple of weeks before officially finishing up, I’ve managed to push out the door a couple of things that have been in the pipeline on and off for months, which I hope will be of interest:

An update to the study of 15 minute services, showing how few (buses in particular) meet the standard, and the huge gaps in Melbourne with no frequent PT, even in peak hour.

A new set of maps showing how the City Loop works, to try and highlight the silliness of so many confusing patterns.

Those of you who are PTUA members, hope to see you at the AGM tonight, and good luck to the incoming PTUA executive and committee team.

PTUA transport

I am standing down as PTUA president on October 11th

Yes it’s true. I have decided not to renominate as the PTUA’s President, and will stand down at the Annual General Meeting on October 11th.

The Age: After almost a decade, Melbourne’s chief public transport complainer has finally had enough.
PTUA: PTUA President to step down

Basically, after nine years, I need a break.

It’s been fun, but all good things and all that. We’ll find out who will take over at the AGM — nominations aren’t due for a couple of weeks, but my assumption is that current secretary Tony Morton will nominate.

I’m still interested in transport issues, of course, and I’ll keep tweeting and blogging on them.

If you care about public transport, the PTUA committee always needs and welcomes active new members. Join up, come along to the AGM, and get involved.

Update Thursday

PTUA transport

Melbourne’s slow confusing infrequent buses (no wonder most people drive)

A few years ago they fixed what was probably Melbourne’s most confusing bus route, but plenty of others are still running confusing, spaghetti-like routes around the suburbs. Often your trip from A to B travels via the rest of the alphabet.

Bus 825 mapA PTUA report out today tries to measure how much buses meander, by comparing the route distance to the quickest possible road route from start to end.

On average, bus routes were 70% longer than the direct alternative …

Some 20% of Melbourne bus routes were so indirect that the route length was more than double the shortest distance by road.

This results in routes which are not only confusing, they are slow to use, and generally infrequent (because more buses are needed to run the route if it is longer than it needs to be). The result is many bus routes are unattractive to those with an option of driving — resulting in under-used buses and increased traffic on the roads.

There is some hope: Smartbus. These have shown that more direct, frequent services are very popular, including in outer-suburban areas often thought to be the exclusive domain of the car.

In the Age story today on the report (and covering some other bus issues), PTV (which has expressed interest in the past about improving bus route efficiency) defends the current position:

…Public Transport Victoria said bus routes had to provide a balancing act between delivering speedy cross-town travel and serving locals on shorter trips.

Ah yes, but the current services aren’t very efficient at serving locals on shorter trips either.

For example, to get from Moorabbin (the area around the shops/station) to Southland, a distance of 3km (or about 5 minutes in a car), your choices are:

  • Bus 823, a bus direct down the highway taking 8 minutes, but it only runs once an hour on weekdays, and not at all on weekends
  • Bus 811/812, which goes via the industrial areas of Moorabbin, taking between 15 and 22 minutes (at least it runs every day, though only every 30 minutes on weekdays, and only hourly on weekends)
  • Bus 825, via Sandringham, Black Rock and Mentone, and taking 40 minutes (also runs every day; every 20 minutes on weekdays, but only hourly on weekends)
  • Or catch the train to Cheltenham (since as yet there is no Southland station), then walk for 15 minutes, or choose from one of half-a-dozen buses, departing from numerous different stops, and none of them timed to meet the train

No wonder most people drive.

Politics and activism PTUA

A quote from forty years ago today

The Age 8/7/1971: Transport

But solution of our problems involves hard cash. Of this, at present, public transport is getting less and less.

(Minister for Transport) Mr Wilcox emphasises that Government action depends largely on public demand. If such demands are not made funds go elsewhere.

He says that while the motor car owner readily provides funds for road building, there is no public transport users’ association to make demands on the Government.

The Age, July 8th, 1971

(Found by Marita; emphasis added. It’s unknown if Frank Casey was partially inspired by this comment.)

transport Video games

Three brief PT things

Yearly: Beat the price rise

Just bought my new Yearly ticket via PTUA Commuter Club. It’ll take a couple of weeks to arrive, but it means I’ll beat the March 12th price rise.

PTUA Commuter Club Yearly plus membership: Z1 = $1090 (order by end of Feb; payment must clear by March 3rd). Will go up about 3% after that.

365 day Myki Pass (Yearly Metcards are no longer on sale): Z1 = $1170 until March 11th, $1202.50 after.

12 x 30 day Myki Passes: Z1 = $1332 (if bought after the March 12th price rise; Metcard prices are almost identical).

Myki gates at Melbourne Central

From what I’ve seen the new gates at Parliament and Melbourne Central work well most of the time, but when I went past, one was out of service (with a red light) and another was being problematic.

And at the end of the video you’ll see two fare evaders follow a lady through. There were no staff watching, so they appeared to get away with it.

First impressions after playing the free demo version of Cities In Motion

Cities In MotionQuite slow even on my recentish PC.

Very nice graphics. A few options to adjust settings, but nothing seems to really speed it up. Demo works on my PC’s 256Mb video card despite the system requirements claiming it needs 512Mb.

Clearly a lot of scope in the simulator for playing with different options, setting up routes etc.

Just a teensy bit clunky in some ways, eg having to lay dual tram track everywhere, and having to end all (tram/bus) routes in a loop.

Can’t see a way to create bus/tram lanes. My buses kept getting stuck in bad traffic.

Not totally convinced it’s a big leap forward over the old Traffic Giant game, but it’s only $20 to buy (online; don’t know about retail), and obviously is still under development, with an active user community/forum.

A bit of fun for any transit geek. Provided I can verify the full game will run on my PC, I’ll buy it.

(Some demo download sites require signup/membership — this one doesn’t)