Friday, May 05, 2006

Fri 5 May - You there Andrew...?

Several weeks ago I thought it worth having one more go at some constructive dialogue with Connex management. I sent an email, spraying it to everybody whose address I had, to about 10 or 12 senior Connex people. The gist of the email was that I thought there would be a number of relatively easy things that Connex could do in the area of passenger information that could greatly improve people's travelling experience. I did my best not to be confrontational (that's a challenge for me) and tried to spell out how easy I thought these things would be, they would have minimal cost impact and I thought there would be real benefit from doing so.

Eventually I received a slightly patronising response from Andrew Cassidy that explained how difficult it was to do anything and how technology was a limiting factor. Since one of the ideas was for the train driver of a crowded, delayed train to announce over the PA how far behind the next train was, I politely suggested that he might want a rethink. After all that has actually been done once (and only once to my knowledge), so we know that there is no technology barrier in implementing this, simply a lack of corporate will. That was two weeks ago and I haven't heard from Andrew since.

So that probably answers the biggest question - do Connex give a rat's about passengers? Nope.

The 07:14 is on time again.

Home on the 18:01 and they don't even bother to tell us that it's running late tonight. We're wet and cold anyway, so a delayed train can't make things any worse. We arrive at Ripponlea about seven minutes late.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Thu 4 May - OK...

The 07:14 gets in on time today... and the clickers are still at South Yarra.

Home on the 17:49 and it's pretty much on time too.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Wed 3 May - Clicking again...

On the 07:14 which is on time...

The clickers are clicking hard at South Yarra again. While their task is not too onerous on platform 1, looking across at one of the far platforms they'd have a hard job counting them accurately - the train is packed solid.

Yesterday's comment from Daniel Bowen (the PTUA guy?) and the closed barriers got me thinking about this whole issue again. Why do Connex and and Yarra Trams insist that ticket validations can be used to provide any meaningful information whatsoever? It does not help one iota. Sometimes the barriers are open at Degraves Street, other times there are a dozen heavies with their gleaming badges proudly displayed for all to see.

The point is if I validate at Ripponlea and again at Flinders Street 20 minutes later it's safe to conclude that I made that one journey. But if I walk through an open gate or barrier, they have no idea whether I'm doing that gunzel thing of travelling every line in the network in a day (I'll leave Chris/The Met to explain that one), or my normal single journey. Even more basic than that though - if the whole system runs on 30-yo PDP-11s, there wouldn't be enough grunt or programming skills to analyse the data anyway!

Home on the 18:01 and it's a couple of minutes late.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Tue 2 May - Counting sheep...

These guys seem to be able to stay awake whilst counting sheep this morning. There's people on the platform and there's people in the carriage, all madly clicking their little tallying machines. Would be interesting to see them try to do this in the evening on a busy train!

We're just over two minutes late. Connexwhingerer, I'm simply reporting the times, as I've done for the last year or so. It's called keeping the b******s honest!

There's nobody at the barrier at the Degraves Street exit again and all barriers are closed. I thought a recent bit of communication from Connex said this would not happen.

At 18:03 we're advised the 18:01 is running three to four minutes late. Surprisingly it arrives at about 18:05 and is about five minutes late at Ripponlea. And yes Connexwhingerer, it makes a big difference - not the five minutes itself, but the 50% more passengers crammed in.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Mon 1 May - Early late...!

We shifted pretty much everybody in the office over the weekend so I'm heading in early to assist with any problems that arise. The 06:40 arrives at Ripponlea on time and not crowded at all... yet somehow we manage to pull in almost three minutes late. How does that work?!

There's already an extra minute built into the timetable for inbound trains, so we lost close to four minutes in what should be a twelve minute journey. That's with almost no passengers and nobody forcing the doors! If they can't keep to the timetable at this time of day, is it any wonder that there are problems at busier times?

Home on the 17:49 and it's three minutes late at Ripponlea too.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Summary 24-28 April

The numbers are still unchanged from two weeks ago, I need to do a full week's work in Melbourne... 61% on time, 23% a little late and 16% very late or cancelled.