Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Help me please conductor

The request was often heard on Melbourne's trams. It is not now. There isn't a conductor to help. Mostly passengers assist each other and as a last resort they may get some begrudging assistance from the driver.

Are conductors on Melbourne's trams a luxury that we can afford? They would reduce fare evasion to a negligble level. But they would probably cost more than they saved in lost fares.

How many Cusotomer Service Officers and Revenue Protection Officers are there? Maybe close to one hundred? Well then there is already a decent number of staff.

When would they be most needed? At night time for security? Daytime to assist older passengers? Weekends to help tourists and casual travellers? Peak time to counter fare evasion? All the time perhaps? Is this really affordable?

I don't know, I really don't. But if there was a simple and easy to understand and use ticket system, there would be much less call for conductors.


  1. Basic analysis of the costs a couple of years ago concluded re-staffing is relatively affordable, and would bring a number of benefits.

  2. Reduced fare evasion (costs them an estimated $50m a year, but that's a very very conservative estimate), reduced vandalism (another cha-ching), reduced anti-social behaviour owing to a bit of supervision (as apposed to now where all we can really afford is a glance now and then). Having connies on board would thin out the crowds a bit, which would improve the running of the service in terms of reduced loading (not a huge amount, but that bludger who flags you down two stops from the end of the line at 10pm with no intention of using the ticket machines might think twice), plus shunting would be faster. I doubt drivers would be as cranky due to the company of another person, too. The sad fact is that because this new wizz-bang SmartCard system has been tendered (don't forget the intstallation and maintenence of these machines! The last lot has cost over $500 million so far and the new system will cost as much again), the chance to bring them back has been sadly missed again. I doubt that we'll ever see them while the industry is beset by private interests...