Saturday, August 09, 2014

Ch ch ch changes

There has been some changes to Melbourne tram routes, necessitating a re-programming of automatic announcements and destination displays. Automatic announcements first appeared in Melbourne when the Combino trams made by Siemens of Germany began to run on our streets.  It was a female voice with an English accent and they were very inaccurate. A friend quipped, given she is in Munich, she hasn't done a bad job, after all,  how would she know Melbourne streets.

Fro quite some time, the system was switched off. Then it was re-invented with an Australian male voice, but still with lots of errors. It was an improvement but still at times wrong and downright silly.

One example is as the number 16 tram, Melbourne University to Kew, via St Kilda, was a transposing of St Kilda Town Hall, and Chapel Street. Chapel Street was announced and the change to route 78/79 trams for a North Richmond tram was announced at St Kilda Town Hall and St Kilda Town Hall announced at Chapel Street.

With the new programming, this has been fixed, except now we have, "Chapel St, change here for routes 3a, 78, 12 and 96 routes. Lordy, how hard is it to get these things right?

There are still some other silly stuff too, such as after travelling along St Kilda Road for 20 minutes and the tram turns into Fitzroy Street, the next stop is St Kilda Road.

Still on route 16, when the tram arrives at Luna Park, 'this tram will now travel along Acland Street'. It doesn't.  

Then there are the destination displays. The useful Toorak via Lygon Street and City has been replaced by just Toorak, in monster huge letters.

I thought I was seeing things when I saw a 109 tram displaying Port Melbourne but showing a route number 109a. The 'a' normally means an altered route from the normal.  But then I saw another, and then another 109a.

But the piece de resistance must surely be the changing of the destination display when a tram is not picking up passengers is the change from 'Sorry, out of service', to 'Not taking customers'. How absurd that customers and not passengers, is being used for public announcements on trams. Next it will be, sorry, not taking clients. The good old days weren't always so good, but a train, tram or bus showing 'Special' was enough to tell you it wasn't for you.


12 comments:

  1. Our buses (some of them) have just started having a display which shows you which is the next stop. And a voice which tells you. However the voice mangles street names so badly that it is often impossible to reconcile with reality - and that is when you know where the bus is going.
    Heaven help anyone who doesn't.

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    1. EC, if it is not done properly, why do they bother doing it at all? Maybe version 2 will be better for you.

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  2. Andrew, I love trams but I am disappointed with their service very often. They don't work properly at my place, So the situation is similar to your place.But they should work well.

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    1. Gosia, we too are very disappointed at times in all our public transport.

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  3. I hate the supplanting of "passengers" by "customers."

    It's obviously a managerially-motivated change to signify an allegedly more business-oriented relationship and focus, but in the context of public transport that sells the public short.

    In Sydney at least it also jars with the present tendency to pepper one's time in the train with fierce announcements such as (most bizarrely) of the many hundreds of dollars of fines you can face for travelling with an open alcoholic drink. "Customers" would never be abused in that way. The necessity or at least occasion for such announcements is surely that the public transport system takes in the public and all comers. Its obligations and role go above/beyond that of a business dealing with customers. It's not just a business.

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    1. Quite so Marcellous. It is a service to the public. Too many announcements become very tedious to the public and ineffectual.

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  4. You need to understand, Andrew, that there are public servants everywhere sitting at their desks, playing solitaire or researching upcoming football games, horse races, television shows etc. Then every now and again, they realise that they should be doing something for the boss, so they sit back in their comfortable chairs and dream up stuff, including political correctness ideologies. Then they go back to their solitaire, etc. etc.

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    1. Yes Bill and fortunately we have the real people doing the work, the public transport drivers.

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  5. You should run them like they run the buses in Sydney if they turn up you are lucky, if you get to your destination on time you have won the jackpot.
    Now I'm retired I don't care but when I was working it was not much fun.
    Merle.............

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    1. Merle, our trams at least, are far more reliable than that. I don't think our buses are though.

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  6. Cheap and nasty little things, those Combino trams. Amsterdam is full of them (the longer, five-section types) and the whole genre is to me one of the most passenger-unfriendly vehicles that could be imagined. As for 'TOORAK' plastered across the destination screen, we made do with that on W-class trams when route 8 ran only to and from the University and I can't see any reason for the 'via Lygon St & City' bit once the tram is on the original route. I travel regularly to a certain establishment in Toorak Village from Flinders Street and it's really of no use to me to see where the tram has been. It just looks like there is more information 'up front' even if it's of no real use to at least half the passengers. Same applies to route 16 displaying 'via St Kilda in both directions long after it's passed through the suburb. Metro seems to be a bit better; I travelled to Ringwood last week and the internal displays changed from 'Limited Express' to 'Stopping all Stations' around Blackburn (after the last 'expressed' station, Laburnum). Hopefully that's common on all lines (though I have to confess I haven't checked my own local services that do a 'limited express' run from Newport to Laverton and v/v during the day) - but then my Ringwood train was an X-trap while the Werribee ones are Siemens rubbish (in passenger friendliness terms) or Comeng (not much better). H'mm, Siemens, ...

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    1. Chris, no argument from me about Combino trams. Cheap, rough and nasty, and yes, plenty in Amsterdam and Budapest and I think in Cologne too. Some, maybe not all, W destinations used to have Glenferrie Road in a smaller font next to the Toorak. I agree up to a point about the showing where the tram has been. While useful before it has gone 'via', it is confusing once it has, especially the St Kilda tram. The Combino destinations are capable of changing themselves, so they could do that, which the trains probably do. One pleasing change, on maps at least to start with, is the changing of the Prahran destination to Balaclava. Siemens has earnt it self a bad name with its cheap fixed wheel trams and previously problematic trains.

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