Ticketing rules you may not know about

Southern Cross StationI have a vague feeling I might have posted something like this in the past, but I can’t find it, so here it is again.

For those of you who don’t read the Victorian Fares and Ticketing Manual for fun, here are some rules about Metcard ticketing that you may not know about. These rules are not expected to change when Myki is introduced. (Edit: Weeklies may change.)

Expiry times

Everyone knows two-hour tickets are rounded up to the next hour [p13]. But if you validate a two-hour ticket right on the hour, it’s valid for three hours.

Validate at or after 6pm and it’s valid until 3am. [p13]

The expiry time means you have to have commenced your trip, eg entered the station paid area, or boarded the tram or bus. [p13]

(It’s unclear what happens if you need to change trains and leave the paid area to do so, as is necessary at some locations.)

If your service was due to depart before the expiry time, but is later than that, or is cancelled, you can still use the ticket for that trip. [p13, p95] Update: This clause is removed under Myki.

The end of the day in ticketing terms is 3am. If you validate a ticket between midnight and 3am, it counts as the day before (eg a Daily will be valid only until 3am.) [p13-14]

This means that a Weekly (etc) ticket that says it’s valid until Wednesday is actually valid until 3am on Thursday morning.

City Saver tickets are only valid for a single trip. This means you can swap trains within the City Saver area, as long as you don’t leave the fare paid zone, but you can’t swap trams or buses. With all other tickets you can swap as much as you like before the expiry time. [p16]


On weekends, a weekly, monthly, yearly ticket is valid in both metropolitan zones. [p15] (At one stage this benefit was to be abolished but they changed their minds.) Update: This benefit is removed under Myki.

If you use a weekly, monthly or yearly and need an extra zone (eg on weekdays), you can just buy the extra “extension” ticket, if necessary at your destination. If you’re on a two-hour or daily ticket you’re meant to have one ticket covering your entire trip.[p94]


A 10 x 2 hour ticket is about a 20% discount from the price of buying individual tickets.[p9]

10 x 2 hour tickets convert into a Daily if you validate the same ticket for a second two-hour block in one day. This effectively makes the 5 x Daily tickets redundant, as they are less flexible.[p13]

If you live in zone 2, you can buy a zone 1+2 off-peak daily for slightly less than a “normal” daily (about the same discount as a 10 x 2 hour), but only from railway stations, and you can only use it after 9am.

For weekends, a Sunday Saver (currently $3.10) or a 5 x Weekend Daily ($15.00) is a good deal.

What did I miss? What did I mess up?

PS. A little radio this morning: ABC AM: New Melbourne tram stops pull up short


How crowded is your line?

An article the other day revealed the latest passenger counts on trains show that overcrowding during peak hour has dropped slightly. I don’t have those figures to hand, but I do have these graphs from 2007 handy, and I thought it might be interesting for people to see how the various lines compare. Patronage has grown, but the patterns haven’t changed much.

They show the loads by counting the numbers as trains reach North Melbourne, Jolimont or Richmond. The target “desirable” number is 798 people per train. More than that is clearly shown on the graphs, and is called a “load breach”.

I’ve snipped this up to just show morning peak periods, which are busiest. You can see why the Sydenham line is rated as the worst for crowding, with some trains carrying over 1100 people.

(Click for larger)
Train load surveys May 2007

The busiest lines are those the government is now throwing money at:

Sydenham is clearly the worst. It and Werribee will benefit from the Regional Rail Link project, which will free up space on the line taken by the country trains to allow more suburban trains. Werribee gets the Laverton turnback, and Sydenham will also be helped by the Sunbury electrification (see my previous post on this). Craigieburn’s got a stabling project going on, and Albury trains will move onto the Standard Gauge line soon.

Epping and Hurstbridge are getting a bunch of upgrades as part of the South Morang project (though for some reason they’re reluctant to talk about it). Dandenong/Pakenham/Cranbourne has the Westall upgrade underway which will help provide more trains. Frankston is okay for infrastructure, it just needs more trains. Sandringham has got some couple of extra trains since ’07.

(Some argue there are easier/quicker/better ways of getting more trains running than the above projects. I’m not debating that here — just stating what’s funded and happening.)

The graphs also make it clear why some lines aren’t getting extra trains and infrastructure. If you’re in the leafy eastern suburbs on the Belgrave, Lilydale, Alamein or Glen Waverley lines, or on the Upfield line, then sorry — the others have it worse than you. (And remember, these figures indicate a typical day — when things go screwy, it’s a whole new ballgame.)

Not to say every line shouldn’t get more frequent trains mind you. The 20 minute peak-hour services from Upfield, Altona and Williamstown are like some kind of bad joke, and ditto to the 30 minute services most lines have after 7pm.

I’m still of the view that to spark further patronage growth outside peak hours (including evenings and weekends), that there should be trains at least every 10 minutes where possible, 6am to midnight, and single line sections within the Urban Growth Boundary should be duplicated to allow that.

And there’s other, cheaper, operational changes they could make to improve things. There’s certainly a lot more to be done.

PTUA transport

Something for your Pod

I don’t have a post for you this morning, so here’s something I prepared earlier.

This morning I had a chat to the people at 3CR about PT issues, and it reminded me of this recording from Joy FM back in April. I think they’d been intending to post the podcast themselves, but haven’t… so I’ll do it myself.

There’s a couple of spots where it seems to skip very slightly (though nothing that really causes an issue listening) — sorry about that, it was recorded off a slightly dodgy stream. When recording it I rabbited on and on… they’ve chopped it down to just over 8 minutes.

By the way, to clarify on the anecdote of Frank Casey, he wasn’t a disruptive passenger — he got cranky because the train he was on was said to be out of service and terminated, then once all the passengers had alighted, it left and continued on its journey, empty.

Hope it’s not too boring — happy listening!


Who will it be?

The big announcement may well come in the next few days: who will take over running Melbourne’s trams and trains from November?

Anybody want to put their predictions on the table? Leave a comment! Your choices:

  • Trains: Connex (Veolia, incumbent) or MTM (Hong Kong MTR consortium) or Keolis
  • Trams: Yarra Trams (TransdevTSL, incumbent) or Keolis

(I had a Google survey thing here for a short time, but it was too clunky, sorry.)

I think the thing to bear in mind is that none of it will make much difference unless the government commits to fixing the infrastructure and fleet problems that cause most of the issues. If all we get is another logo, little will really change.

That said, there is scope for the operators to run things better: put on more staff, voluntarily run more frequent services (at least outside peak hours, when trains are available), lobby more strongly for infrastructure improvement, better maintenance and security (eg around fleet depots and stations, where vandalism occurs).


Phoenix changing

When I visited Phoenix, Arizona in 1996, it appeared to be the archetypal car-dominated city. I was told pretty much the only PT was buses once an hour. The freeways were packed at rush hour. Nobody walked anywhere.

The downtown area was (especially on weekends) so deserted that they had to have signs saying “Welcome to downtown Phoenix” so that you knew you were downtown.

While the people were friendly, it was exactly the type of city I’d hate to live in.

But it looks like it’s changing: they’re getting a lot more medium-density and mixed-use development, and… trams.

A new tram/light-rail line, 20 miles long. Quite impressive. Having spent all that money on infrastructure, they didn’t skimp on the services, either — every 10 mins weekdays, 15 weekends, 20 evenings.

Obviously it’s only one route, but apparently already they’ve got more patronage than expected, and are looking at more lines.

Nice to see even the most car-dominated cities are starting to move in the right direction.

(via Treehugger)


I got a Myki, and it only cost $1.3 billion

I tried Myki for myself on Saturday in Geelong. Bought one for the promotional price of $5 in the special Myki Shop in Ryrie Street and hopped on a bus to the station.

(HQ available if you click through)

Some brief notes on it:

  • It worked as advertised. Took $1.80 from my initial $5 balance
  • The scanners are slow, much slower than your typical big building door scanner, which does the equivalent job
  • The bus driver seemed delighted that three passengers in a row all scanned successfully, commenting “beautiful!”
  • As a first timer, I accidentally waved the ticket at the screen initially when getting off the bus. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s done this, though I guess it’s a mistake you’d only make once. Though I wonder how much time others would take to work it out.

I’ve since gone onto the web site and registered my Myki and looked at my transactions. The web site needs some work.

  • Despite a lot of the literature (including the ticket) giving the address, this doesn’t actually work. You have to go to
  • The registration page is pretty clunky
  • It doesn’t show you any detail of the transaction except the time and cost. Useful information like the zone(s) or route(s) you used aren’t shown.

I know it’s only the equivalent of beta testing, but given they’ve already pushed it into Geelong and Seymour, with Ballarat imminent, I’d have thought they’d have pretty much perfected it by now.

And while I think it’ll be handy (if it works properly, and if the current design flaws are fixed), I still don’t think it’s worth the huge cost. (At $1.3 billion, which includes building it and running it for ten years, it’s costing every man, woman and child in Victoria about $260 each.)

And I maintain that if they keep scan off, it’s going to cause chaos on Melbourne’s trams at busy times.

Previously noted problems with Myki

Friends and loved ones Retrospectives transport

My dad and the trains

Daniel circa 1973When I was a kid, my dad would take us to Camberwell Civic Centre every April or so, to see the huge model train exhibition they had there. We’d wander around for a couple of hours and I would dream that one day I’d have a really big, detailed train set.

Early on I had Lego trains; the ones with the blue rails, and coveted the mains electric ones, which I saw in a foreign language Lego catalogue that snuck into a Lego set I got. But I had the push and battery variety: the 171 goods train and 182 passenger train. Those red and blue couplings taught me about magnetism.

By my teens I had a handful of HO model trains; a mix of Hornby and Lima trains, including I think a Hornby Trans-Australian engine (have no idea if it was historically accurate), and a Lima Indian Pacific set. At the time we were living in Inkerman Road, St Kilda, in a rented duplex, and there was a bungalow out the back which I got to use for the trains. But I never did get around to building a proper layout.

A bit later I got the 1980s era Lego electric trains “Ideas book” courtesy of my UK uncle. A year or two later the trains went on the market in Australia, and although by that point I was arguably too old for Lego trains, I saved up my spending money from my parttime job and ended up with a 7740 Intercity express, and a 7730 Steam freight train. Both sets had numerous stickers for different operators you could choose to stick on the sides of the trains. Vicrail (by then defunct) was included, but I chose the German Railways logo, because its DB initials matched mine.

My sister and I had a Lego town built up with loads of buildings, vehicles, people, and way more train services than a town of that size probably deserved.

I’m sure a lot of these trains were at least partly funded by my dad (who also funded the computers when I got interested in those.)

Dad also took us to the Railway Museum at Williamstown regularly. We’d climb in and out of the trains and run around like maniacs and look at the displays there.

U-drive model trainsAnd he let me read his copies of newsletters from a mob he had joined, called the Train Travellers Association, which in 1984 became the PTUA. In his younger days, he’d been interested in various aspects of activism, though I don’t think he was active in the TTA.

The other week I took the kids to the model railway exhibition at Caulfield racecourse. Quite good. Lots to look at.

The advertising said it was the largest in the state. I was chatting to one of the blokes there. I wondered if it was the same one that used to be at Camberwell every April or so when I was a kid. Yes, same one. So there you go.

And they still have the U-Drive, where for a small fee they let the kids drive a couple of model trains for a little while. In my youth, I think they were just plain engines. Nowadays (perhaps inevitably) they’re Percy and Thomas.

We haven’t been to the Railway Museum since last year, I think, but now that the warm weather is coming back, I’m sure it’ll happen again in the near future.

Our parents have funny influences over us. Bits of them appear in us, and obviously some stuff we continue passing down the line to our kids.

Daniel speaking into a loudspeaker. In my case, I didn’t end up becoming a hard-core train enthusiast, nor do I have a bunch of model trains. But clearly aspects of his interests have popped up in me, and I wonder what of me will pass down into my kids.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.

Photos transport

Still impressive

I don’t agree with the name change, but I do think the renovated Southern Cross Station is impressive.

Compare this picture from about a year ago to how it looks today (yep, there is a massive tram stop in front of it, seen here with a massive tram, so it’s a bit harder to see everything):

Southern Cross Station, seen from Spencer Street

And here’s the view from inside:

Inside Southern Cross Station

(Click on either of the pictures to see them in full, unencumbered by the web page navigation.)

Marita was on the train at platform 2, heading to her parents’ for the day. Although there’s a sign for platform 1, it would appear you have to walk a good distance further north to get to it.

Melbourne Photos transport


It may be costing $700 million, and it may be causing untold confusion and inconvenience while it’s being built, and the new name might be silly… but damn, that rolly roof is impressive.

Spencer Street/Southern Cross Station under construction

Click here to see it bigger (and unencumbered by the blog navigation)

(Yeah, there’s a slight glitch in the picture where a taxi was moving.)

Mind you, I’m still wondering why they put the roof on first before doing all the work below it. Won’t the roof get in the way of the cranes?



Over the years, my taste in clothing (as well as other things such as food) has improved immeasurably. Various influences – in particular certain girlfriends – have led me to try and take a little more care of my appearance. I’m not quite up to the standard proffered by The Age recently of the "Metrosexual", but I don’t enjoy looking like a slob. Even if I still do look like a slob sometimes. It’s a gradual progression, as the clothes budget becomes available, and more importantly, as I get inspiration and figure out what it is I want.

I decided during the week that I was in dire need of a new jacket for work. The old ones aren’t exactly falling to bits, but they’ve started to take on that kind of scruffy look that means I don’t feel very comfortable wearing them. I don’t want to look like a scruff. I want to be under the delusion that I’m well-dressed. Particularly at work. I’m meant to be a successful urban IT professional, and I should look it, too.

I am the world’s worst clothes shopper. If I don’t have inspiration, the sheer stamina required to put up with my endless umming and ahhing is monumental. It’s a trip I should do alone. After looking all week for inspiration from the people at work, the people on the train, the people walking around the city, but not finding anything, I had taken a look around some city shops on Friday after work. Nothing had grabbed me, but inspiration came later from watching The Sopranos

that night (I’d taped it on Monday). I found myself watching and thinking – hey, you know that’s a nice jacket that (sadistic maniac) Ralph is wearing. Something like that might be good.

So with that little nugget of inspiration, I went shopping on Saturday afternoon. A little retail therapy after the auction to get over the minor disappointment about not getting the house.

Where should I go? Some of the jackets I had seen in DJs in the city had been quite good, if a trifle on the expensive side. But I couldn’t be bothered going to the city, could I? Instead I got in the car and drove to Chadstone. Ah, Chadstone, a hundred thousand square metres of shops, and never a parking spot free, and buses only every hour on Saturdays. I drove around and around for what seemed an age, but was probably about five minutes, and eventually found a spot. But could I find a jacket that I liked? No. Hmmm. 2:30pm. Remembering that I wouldn’t have time the next day to go shopping, I drove to Southland.

Ah, Southland. Not quite as big as Chadstone, but just as annoying to find a parking spot in. No, more annoying. I tried on the eastern half initially. I drove around and around, watching as the other cars I saw started to look more and more familiar. They were driving around in much the same circles as I was. Ah! A spot! There! No, damn, it’s for parents with prams. I wish I still had that old pram in the back of the car.

[On the train - two blokes and a washing machine]
Also on the train into the city – two blokes and a washing machine.

I drove out of the car park and considered looking for somewhere to park in a nearby street. But instead I drove over to the newer western part of the centre. Up the ramp to the top, and I immediately found a spot. The last spot, it appeared, as other cars continued to circle up there. Then I looked around the shops. Saw various jackets, and almost considered thinking about buying one in DJs, but decided No. It really wouldn’t do. It was not quite what I wanted. Fussy bastard, aren’t I?

It was 3:30pm. Hey, what about the ones I had seen in the city at DJs? On sale until tomorrow? They didn’t seem to have the same ones at Southland and Chadstone. Yeah, they’re nice. What time do they close? I drove home, and checked. 6pm. Plenty of time. So I jumped on the train, and half an hour later, with no parking hassles whatsoever, I was in DJs in the city looking at their jackets, and miracle of miracles, I found one I liked. No, really liked. On sale, though still almost stupidly expensive. No matter, I bought it anyway. It’s totally lovely, and I’ll feel and look great (well, apart from the recurring acne, why am I still getting that at 32 years old?!) tomorrow morning when I go to work. Retail therapy works!

I came home, then headed out to the supermarket looking for food. I settled on the ingredients for enchiladas for dinner. Good stuff. And as I was leaving through the checkout, the bloke behind me saw my cloth bag and by golly decided he’d ask the checkout chick to put his groceries into his backpack. Obviously with recent debate, the whole plastic bag thing is increasing in peoples’ consciousness.

I ate enchiladas and dug out a video of Earthshock to watch. Ahhhh… relaxation.

So the lesson for me in all of this? In clothes, look for inspiration everywhere. Once it’s found, go shop. Make sure the credit card is cleared and ready for action. And don’t bother looking in the suburban shopping centres – go for the city – it’s got it all and more.

Hey… you know… I need some new ties…