Thursday, August 07, 2008

Public Transport Overseas

I did not do any sort of proper investigation. I just used public transport when overseas when it was appropriate.

We used the the train in Singapore twice, and it works. Perfectly, I would say.

We used The Tube in London, and it works. I can't say it is perfect, as it was way too hot in the odd little train carriages and we had significant pauses mid route, but pretty good. I had to laugh at Tim Fisher, presenter of the ABC's Great Train Show. He said that some of the older tube trains are used above ground in a regional area and that they looked strange above ground and needed to burrow back down to where they belonged.

Although we did not travel on Amsterdam buses or trams, they provided a very frequent service, were not overcrowded and no observed dramas.

Newcastle has an underground overland rail system, called the Metro, like in Paris, and I understand it is very efficient and it is about to have umpteen million pound injected into it for upgrades. The bus service seemed good, with service intervals matched to loading. For security, passenger safety and ticket checking purposes, there was no rear door on the bus. It seemed to not be a problem. Rear exit doors were abolished some time ago on Newcastle buses.

Blackpool trams are not the fastest way to travel, but like all trams, they are very trustworthy. You can see where the rails go and the tram follows the rails. The onboard conductors are a bonus, but then it wasn't exactly cheap. You get what you pay for. There were plenty of buses which I would guess provide a good service and are probably faster than the trams.

Visitors to Melbourne struggle with out public transport ticket system. Locals struggle with it even. But I never had a problem with any public transport ticket system when I was overseas. That tells you nothing about my cleverness; it tells you the ticket systems were easy.

How, when local people overseas scan their cards fast and without any visible to me probems when using public transport, and I assume they do it much cheaper than tourists like us do buying a single trip ticket, do we have to reinvent the wheel? The world over is using stored value scan cards. Why does it have to be reinvented for Melbourne? Why is it so expensive and running years late in its implementation?

The only argument that I have heard that may bear weight, is that our ticket system is very complex........well, simplify it. I despair.


  1. "is that our ticket system is very complex"

    You mean the fare system? It's not. It's pretty simple. Two zones, timed tickets. Easy.

  2. "Newcastle has an underground overland rail system..."

    Is that the one run by the wombles, Andrew? Singing: Underground, overland, wombling free etc. (Er...if you've never watched the Wombles, that probably doesn't make much sense. It's also not funny or clever, but it's red hot here today, my brain's gone into melt down and all my intelligence has turned to cream and slid out of my ears.

  3. The situation in Sydney is disgraceful. The NSW Government promised we would have the T Card in time for the Sydney Olympics (2000!) but the whole program was abandoned this year without being implemented with hundreds of millions of dollars lost on the unsuccessful project.

    Apparently our convoluted fare structure was a major culprit and the Transport Authority refused to simplify it.

  4. "...the Wombles of Wimbledon Common are we. Making good use of the things that we find, the things that the everyday folk leave behind."
    Recycling a song about furry recyclers :P
    Kosky needs to be reminded of the KISS principal, Andrew...but then, she is pretty simple herself :P

  5. Regardless, Daniel, I would prefer to pay for distance travelled, goes for driving too. Ditch car rego and whack it onto petrol.

    I have heard of Wombles, but that is all Brian. Jayne is obviously up to speed.

    Victor, I just heard someone saying, if you think Melbourne's trains are bad, you should try Sydney's. Actually, when I have used Sydney trains, not for a while, I found them not too bad. But that was off peak of course.

    Hopefully Jayne, the operation of it will be simpler than the what happens in the background.

  6. Myki. Wasteful. Retarded. Very very Labor.

  7. As Daniel said, the Melbourne fare system is simple, it's a perception that it is complex. It's an urban myth and a self fulfilling prophecy. If you believe it is complex, then it will be. As for tourists, of course initially it is confusing for them, but they soon get used to it. I know it has been the same for me overseas and interstate. I'm still confused by the Adelaide ticketing system though.

    With MYKI, I believe the problem is with the government more than anything else. Just poor management and a dodgy bidding process to keep their mates in the game.

  8. I guess Ben that automated fare collection on conductorless trams and light rail, which is where the tourists have problems, cannot really be compared to a railway station where there are maps etc plastered everywhere and can be studied or a bus where the driver can be asked. Just thinking aloud. I don't think our system is complicated but I know it well. I see plenty of tourists really struggle.