Friday, February 16, 2007

I want my bike

Yesterday and today I'm dropping the kids at school so I'm going in a bit later. Despite the fact that I am arrogant and self-centred, as evidenced by this blog, my weakness is being considerate of my fellow passengers. Consequently I will not attempt to take my bike on the train in peak hours. Unlike the dozen or more yesterday evening who seem to use their bikes as battering rams to force their way into an overcrowded carriage... oops, getting ahead of myself!

As I was saying, I don't feel it appropriate to take the bike on the train after 07:30 when they're just too crowded. Consequently I can cycle in or leave it at home. And cycling in is just never going to work for me, too much mucking around with carrying work clothes in, showering etc. So the only real option is to use the train both ways, something I haven't done a lot of lately. And yesterday reminded me of why!

I dropped the kids at school and I pulled away at 08:38 - no worries, 11 minutes to get to the station about 1.5km away... easy-peasy - apart from the huge number of mums in 4wds of course. Anyway, without being too stupid I manage to get parked with a minute or so spare. And the 08:49 is running about five minutes late. But you know if it had just taken me that extra minute to get there, the 08:49 would've been exactly on time! Anyway it's crowded since it's carrying half the passengers who'd turned up to catch the 08:59, but it goes with the territory at that time of day.

Heading home and by the time I was ready to leave I realised I could not hope to catch the 17:49 so went for the 18:01 instead. It's about 33°C so I'm anticipating problems. Sure enough there's no sign of the train that's confidently predicted to depart at 18:01 by the platform monitors and there's no announcement to tell us what's going on. Have I mentioned the fact that this irritates the hell out of me? OK, maybe once or twice! Then the monitors switch to "Train not taking passengers" and now my blood's starting to boil.

Shortly afterwards one of the new trains pulls into platform 9 and then we're told that's our train. But somebody would've known that at least five minutes earlier, so WHY DIDN'T THEY TELL US???

Pile in and it's stink hot. No air-con and no windows. Great! If it's 33°C outside and this feels like walking into an oven, how hot is it? But just in case it's not hot enough, we hang around for a few more minutes to cram in a few more of the 18:12's passengers with their body heat and eventually we depart. It's hard to believe that you can step out of somewhere into 33°C and feel relief at being so much cooler!

I have to go through this again today and also next Thursday and Friday. Maybe I can sort out some way of cycling in that's manageable and finally break my dependence on this cretinous Connex outfit altogether?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Customer Service Operators

What's the PC name for the men and women who go around booking the travelling public for various infringements? I think somebody called them customer service operators, and I suspect there's the odd less flattering name used from time to time too!

If you've browsed the comments on the previous post you'll see a bit of discussion about these guys. Now I'm on record as not being a fan of people running in front of an oncoming train, but clearly that's not what happened here. The train is stopped at the station and the gates are closed. Noisy girl has a look and sees that not only is the train stopped, but the driver is out of the cabin assisting a passenger. So as a mature adult, she assesses the situation, makes the judgement that the chances of this train running her over are pretty slim. Added to that she knows the trains are still prone to cancellation so doesn't have confidence when the next one will show. She has a good look around and carefully decides to cross. (I didn't just conclude all this from her posts here, by the way.)

So despite all of that the customer service officer decides to book her. And a guy on a pushbike, and by the sound of it a few others. Why? Safety or revenue raising? If it was about saftey, surely the starting point is educating the broader public about the risks, not leap straight into a handful of people with the ticket book? And what genius decided it was a good time to launch this when Connex and the state government's stocks are already at their lowest in years?

I doubt there's many people who cross against a red light as a pedestrian from time to time. It's all about risk assessment and having your wits about you when cross a road or a rail line.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

So they're back...?

The SMS came through yesterday morning to advise that the Siemens trains were back on the rails and the Sandringham returns to normal service.

Of course we all know what normal service means... delays and cancellations at random times with minimal or no notification. It means the trains are still crowded and smelly. It means that when the mercury hits 30°C, as most of this week is predicted to do, the new trains have a hissy fit and refuse to operate. It means that there are no staff around to ask what's going on with your trains and any you do find are generally surly and disinterested. It means being hassled by armies of ticket inspectors, or are they customer service operators now? It means Bruce Hughes and co still being chauffeured to the door without having to soil his Gucci loafers stepping in somebody's regurgitated pizza and beer. It means continued use of the archaic PDP-11s with no upgrade future. It means century old technology limiting train capacities in some areas. It means no hope for updated commuter information systems that we can rely on. It means a state government that has no interest in providing decent public transport infrastructure.

It simply means despite all the interest of the media over recent weeks we're back to how it was, nothing has changed and nothing will change.

Yep, looks like normal service is all we have to look forward to.