I’m a tram rider. In the 4 years I’ve lived in Melbourne I’ve never been on a bus or train. It’s either inner-city transport to enable socialising and drinking, or longer distance travel by motorbike (without drinking of course). I’ve often debated the issue of validating Metcards on trams. Finally someone from Metlink has admitted what I have long believed:
A ticket is valid for its designated period of time once purchased from the on-board machine (which validates it) or first validated if it was purchased prior to travelling (such as from a shop). After that, there is no legal requirement to keep validating it. Metlink is wrong when it promotes this idea as law, and finally it has been forced to admit the truth.
Validating is supposed to record the number of trips made and passengers on each tram, thus allowing transport authorities to provide the required number of services. What? When I get on the 112 tram at the corner of Brunswick and Leicester sts, I often have to wait for 3 or even 4 trams to go past before I can squeeze onto one – they are all packed in the morning commute.
This is because validating is a farce. If transport authorities want to see how many people ride on trams they should watch security tapes (if they exist) or employ someone to gather reliable evidence. We don’t validate because we are too cynical to believe it makes any difference. You fail to provide us with adequate public transport despite overwhelming evidence of the unmet demand, so why should we participate in your sham assessment of demand? We don’t validate because the tram is so crowded it is impossible to reach a green box.
Failure to validate is not the cause of inadequate services. Inadequate service is caused by government failure, poor management and a lack of iniatitive on the part of planners. They know about the validating issue, and know how much public transport needs to be improved, but they do nothing but blather on about public / private partnerships and pay millions of dollars to private corporations who create huge messes in service delivery.
There is no profit to be made in the delivery of resource and infrastructure intensive activities like public transport. Therefore, there is no role in it for for-profit enterprises. PUBLIC services like PUBLIC transport should be run and managed by the representatives of the PUBLIC – the government – for the benefit of the PUBLIC. It is paid for by the PUBLIC with income from taxes and tickets.