Thursday, July 24, 2014

Memo to Metro Trains and Yarra Trams cuts

What would be like to be back in Melbourne and not complain about our public transport.

Last Friday I just missed a train and filled in the time by studying timetables and using the toilet on the Flinders Street Station concourse. I was shocked. Here is the message I sent to Metro Trains. They have not responded as yet.
 
I have recently been travelling in Europe and England and nowhere during my travels did I come across toilets as disgusting as that on the concourse at Flinders Street Station. It was filthy, plenty of graffiti and very shabby. There appeared to be no hot water and the air from one hand dryer at least was cold. It is an absolute disgrace. Clean toilets are not difficult. You just employ someone to clean them, regularly. I can forgive shabbiness and graffiti perhaps but not filthy.

Meanwhile Yarra Trams is busy cutting services, but they have painted the cuts as improvements.

Route 112 is to be divided into two, and this does seem to be an improvement. If service intervals are maintained, the Collins Street service will be better. At the moment route 112 is an eight minute service during the day.

But 'in order to make catching a tram and knowing where it will go be as simple as possible' we will cut them out.  The loss of the 31 will be ameliorated by the extra service by the division of the 112. But the St Kilda end of route 112 that passes through Albert and Middle Park I am sure will be reduced. It only gets such a good service now because the West Preston end of the route is very busy. I can't see an 8 minute service for the new route from St Kilda to Victoria Gardens.

Route 24 is an evening peak service (used to be morning too), but the loss of it will mean a reduced service in the already underserviced Latrobe Street.

Bourke Street will lose its extra route 95 service, put in place to help with overcrowding of trams in Bourke Street and with only two routes in Bourke Street and a tram seldom on the horizon in Melbourne's main east west street, the service will be dreadful. I have not seen any mention in an increase in the service of the two routes, 86 and 96, in Bourke Street, so that will mean longer waits and more overcrowding. Why is the service so neglected in Bourke Street?

Route 79 will disappear. It now only runs at night time, whereas it used to run all day Sunday and I can remember back to when it was a full time daily service. It is the North Richmond to St Kilda Beach service. The cut will mean it will run as route 78 permanently, to Brighton Road, Elwood. Some people will benefit from the change, with the Chapel Street service extended to Brighton Road at night time, one stop, but so many will lose by having to transfer to a  16 tram at Carlisle Street. Imagine missing a tram in Chapel Street and having to wait 20 minutes at night time, and then just missing the 16 at Carlisle Street to get to St Kilda and having to wait another 20 minutes. We will see how the timetables shape up, but even if there is only a five minute wait at Carlisle Street, both the 79 and 16 trams have the worst on time records of any routes and what might appear to work well on timetables, may not work at all for passengers.

This may seem all so esoteric, but it is not if you are actually waiting for a tram.

What Yarra Trams is doing is cutting services more than they are improving them but dressing them up as improvements. Well, when you the give the operation of your public transport to private companies that must give a good return to overseas shareholders, this is what you get.

While the bulk of this was written some time ago, subsequently Daniel wrote a more detailed and sensible piece on the changes.

Over two weeks later, I have yet to hear back from Metro Trains about the filthy and disgusting toilets at our premium suburban station.

Later edit: I have heard back from Metro Trains. It was the waffle I expected. There are permanent cleaners on duty to look after the toilets during the day and outside of these hours they are on a thirty minute cleaning cycle, which makes the toilets' filthiness rather mystifying. This bit was a bit interesting, As you may appreciate, the cleaners are required to work around our customers, making the task more difficult.  

Whatever, I don't think I am being unreasonable in expecting clean toilets at our premium railway station.

40 comments:

  1. Andrew, you are right toilets should be clean is a priotity in civilised country as Australia. Definitely timetable is not well-organisedesch country faces problem with public transportation. The most comfortable is your car but you can't avoid traffic jams is the problem...

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    1. Gosia, I prefer to take public transport and it is quite good where I live, but it could be so much better.

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    2. Hi,

      Metro Trains have nothing to do with Flinders Street Station (FSS) toilets. The cleaning contractor and ALL maintenance, etc is controlled by Vic Government. Because of the Franchise Agreement, Metro Trains can't tell you this!! ;)

      Likewise with whole of FSS, Metro can't do a thing without Vic Government say so plus FSS is heritage listed which makes it even more complex.

      I suggest you write to Minister Mulder ;)

      Hope that helps.

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    3. Thanks Allan. So Metro do not contract out the cleaning, but the Government does? If that is the case, I will contact the minister.

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    4. Glad to help Andrew!! :)

      Government does the cleaning contract, not Metro Trains. Cleaning company is not Metro Trains either ;)

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    5. Clear now Allan, thank you.

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  2. I must admit I had to use the toilet at our local railway station the other day and I was very surprised, it was clean and there was soap and toilet paper, I was more than surprised I was amazed.
    Only thing it was hard to find I had to ask the station staff where it was maybe thats why it was so clean all the grotbags can't find it.
    Merle............

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    1. Merle, that my well be correct. Most of our suburban stations have locked up toilets that can't be used.

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    2. Hi,

      Closing toilets is a direct Vic Government issue. Metro Trains can't do a thing except cope the flack as the Franchise Agreement does not permit Metro Trains to make adverse comments against the Vic Government.

      This makes it convenient for any Vic Government to have Metro take the "illusionary" blame.

      I suggest you write to Minister Mulder :)

      Hope that helps.

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    3. Allan, I suppose Metro should get the flack if that was what they signed to in the franchise agreement. I am well aware that public transport operators cop the flack for many things that go wrong when matters are a government responsibility.

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    4. That's nonsense. Sounds like you just simply hate Metro.

      Metro, V/Line or Yarra Trams should not be coping the blame for someone else's incompetence or convenience. Could you imagine the public commuter outrage if they knew government was behind closing and keeping railway station toilets closed? ;)

      At the top of the food chain is Department of Transport. Alongside just under that is Public Transport Victoria (PTV). Under PTV is Yarra Trams, Metro, V/Line, etc.

      V/Line or Metro can't even advertise without permission of PTV. There are public versions of Franchise Agreements available.

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    5. Allan, I don't hate Metro. I do believe that essential services, such as public transport, should be a government responsibility. It gets into a grey area where the government outsources its responsibilities to private profit making companies. You have clarified in comments that complaints about Metro are better directed to the government and I sincerely take that on board, even though I kind of knew it already, though not about FSS toilets.

      But I must question your credentials as a staunch defender of Metro Trains?

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    6. Hi Andrew.

      Channelling energy into the incorrect area, does not get you started on a result ;)

      Most of us public don't know, nor should we be expected to know, that YT, Metro, V/Line have no control over station staffing levels, whether toilets are open or closed, toilets are upgraded or stations renovated. All comes down to State government funding.

      BUT, if Metro or government were to spend money on meticulously upgrading FSS, then government MUST MAINTAIN that upgrade standard.... Where's the money or votes in that? ;)

      Have a discussion with or look at the Public Transport Users Association ;)

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    7. MyKi was another disaster outsource, which is now under Transport Ticketing Authority - Still separate.

      How many times I hear travellers complain on V/Line that their MyKi is faulty or is crap.... Has nothing to do with V/Line but V/Line, just like YT & Metro, have to deal with it and cop the unnecessary abuse.... Energy should be channelled at Minister Mulder ;)

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  3. Living out where I do I tend to be more interested in the Belgrave/Lilydale train line more than the trams. We do use them sometimes in the city but obviously not to the extent of regular commuters/city residents.
    I do agree with you about clean amenities - the toilets at Croydon can be a bit on the nose at times - make sure I go before leaving home and would use a department store before Flinders Street!
    Love tha comment about 'working round' customers lol. Excuse me, move over I need to clean the bowl! I do believe they use their little signs outside and make you run round in circles trying to hold on while you find another one
    Cathy

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    1. Cathy, it is funny thing about working around customers. There are often alternatives, as you say, and I would normally use them.

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  4. It's not at all unreasonable to expect clean toilets. If there is more than one stall, all a cleaner needs is a closed for cleaning sign and close one stall at a time.Clean it and move to the next. Repeat, repeat. It's not hard.
    As for the missing trams etc, may I suggest a pair of running shoes? :-)

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    1. River, common sense rarely applies in life, and not with our train system. I don't run for anyone or anything, and at times miss trains, trams or buses, but there is always another.

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  5. I walked into the toilet at Flinders Street several years ago and had to walk straight out....it was disgusting.

    If I need to use the toilet in the city, I head over to the NGV.

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    1. AdRad, thanks for the confirmation. You are an experienced traveller. Have you seen worse?

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    2. Not really. Even the public toilet I once used in Mexico was cleaner...but then again, I had to pay to use it (and only got 4 squares of toilet paper).

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    3. Some, not all in Europe and England, we had to pay to use. A minimal amount for us and I don't care if they are clean, and they were. There is a lot to be said for foreign ways.

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    4. Hi Adaptive Radiation,

      Flinders Street Station is heritage listed and toilet renovations and cleanliness is entirely and only up to the Vic Government :(

      Being heritage listed, makes it difficult to modernise --> There's no ventilation vents in male or female toilets!!

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    5. Allan, no ventilation in the toilets makes it all the more important to keep them meticulously clean. I really hope Metro knew what was in the agreement they agreed to.

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    6. Absolutely. Of course Metro would have known what was in the agreement.

      But renovating or cleaning FSS toilets is completely out of the control of Metro Trains.

      If you call PTV next week, they should be able to direct you to the correct department to complain to. Hope that helps! :)

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  6. Sigh. And it is all too common. I have a mental list in my head not only of the public toilets whereabouts in town - but also of whether they are likely to be fine, dodgy, for desperate times only - or for one set NEVER, EVER to be entered. And I have written to the centre management and got less than satisfactory reponses - and no improvement.

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    1. EC, I would do the same if I was a regular user of public facilities. I just do not understand why clean public toilets are difficult.

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  7. A number of American cities had efficient and comprehensive train services until the petrol companies and car manufacturers insisted the train lines be ripped out.

    Could that be why our tram services are being reduced and cancelled?

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    1. Oh yes Hels, they did, trains and trams and the oil companies killed them. Fortunately many US cities are reintroducing electric rail transport.

      I don't think that is the reason our services are being reduced though. It is all about maximising profit for the foreign owners who run our public transport.

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    2. Vic transport services are being increased. Can you reference where transport services are being decreased in Victoria?

      Vic government own the trams and trains. Vic government controls how much new rolling stock is placed out there.

      Who do you think owns V/Line? ;)

      If foreign owners want more profit, they would want more trams and trains.... think about it ;)

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    3. Allan, some services have been reduced, as I listed above in the post. I am not as familiar with suburban trains, but I know to boosting the service for politically marginal outer areas has come at the expense of users in in areas where there are safer, one way or the other, seats. Isn't the mantra for private companies to always look at cutting costs?

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  8. Oh dear, the last bit from Metro Trains about cleaners working around customers is straight from the 'Yes Prime Minister' school of public service.

    You know the sort of thing; 'hospitals are more efficient if their are no patients'!

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    1. 'there' not 'their'.......

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    2. Victor, yes those pesky people who want to use the toilets. They would stay quite clean otherwise.

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  9. Routes 11, 12 and 109 will run to every 10 minute.

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    1. Thanks. So that is a cut to the 109 Box Hill end and I think the 112 was an 8 minute service during the day, so that is a cut too. Certainly the 11 should have a more frequent service.

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  10. The toilets down the Elizabeth St end in the tunnel bit are every bit as feral. They stink, they're dirty, surely it's not that difficult to keep them clean. By the way the stink is not from usage, it's like it comes out of the pipes or something, a sewerage smell.

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    1. Fen, I was amazed how very busy public toilets in Europe and England, even aside from the pay ones, are kept spotlessly clean. When I am next at So Cross, I will check them there. They don't have an excuse of old buildings.

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    2. Were the toilets in Europe ventilated and modern? In comparison to Flinders Street Station, it is heritage listed and no ventilation in the toilets :(

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  11. Also 11 gets less peak services than 112.

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