Well, here we go again. Poor Melbournians being told that their public transport system does not live up to expectations. You may have noticed that I said Melbournians – that is due to the fact that the Victorian public transport system does not service the whole of Victoria.
We in the country struggle to see a train that is not a grain carrier. We have to travel to a town that is at least 100 kilometres away. But that is not the point of this article. Maybe some other time!
Metro, Melbourne’s newest public transport company, has been deceiving the people that pay their wages. They have been fudging their figures to look better than they are, which probably also means getting out of huge fines for not meeting delivery targets.
They claim to have achieved a 98 per cent delivery target in every month of last year. But any one that watches the news in Victoria will surely know that this cannot be happening. I mean really. How many trains, train lines or short services do we want to hear about?
Let’s look at how Metro, the company that “does not deal in hypotheticals” , cook their books. The case in point is November last year. The operator claims that they ran 98.9 per cent of their services for that month. That is a great figure, but is it really true?
Within their delivery targets, Metro is able to take some shortcuts within that number. Each short service only counts as a quarter of one cancellation and a loop bypass counts as only one-eighth of a cancellation. So when they claim that they had only 126 cancellations that means the following: 418 short services (and using the previous math that means 104.5 cancellations and 176 loop bypasses (meaning 22 cancellations).
But when you are trying to get home from another day in the office and your train decides not to go through the loop to pick you up, do you really care that that means that you are part of a one-eighth cancellation or do you consider that your train has been cancelled full stop? I have done this travelling to and fro for work and I know that I would think that I have been short-changed.
Here’s another quote from an advocate of a real public transport system, Daniel Brown of the Public Transport Users Association: “As far as the passenger is concerned, the train is cancelled if it doesn’t arrive.” And I whole-heartedly agree.
The other claim floating around is that if a train is running late enough that the driver will decide to change the service to run express back to the city.
Let’s hear a quote from somebody that should be able to make a difference to the situation – Public Transport Minister Terry Mulder. ”I have been concerned for more than a year about the number of Werribee line trains that are suddenly bypassing Seaholme, Altona and Westona stations.”
Just when you think that a politician has taken the bull by the horns, they always leave themselves with some wriggle room. He followed up with this – But he said train controllers only altered or cancelled a train ”if they believe it is in the best interest of commuters across Metro’s network”.
Did you notice the interesting thing about that quote? How about the fact that Mr Mulder has known about the situation for more than a year? Of course, we have Metro denying that they are misleading commuters on service cancellations.
Let me ask the people that really matter. If you use the public transport system, are you happy with the service you are getting?