Since leaving Perth for Melbourne more than five years ago, there has been very little I miss about Perth. Fabulous beaches with surf for swimming, body surfing and bodyboarding within a 10 minute drive of home? I used to have it and I still miss it enormously. Melbourne does almost everything else significantly better – food, entertainment, arts and employment opportunities.
The only other thing I can think of that Perth does better than Melbourne is TransPerth’s public transport in the CBD – the Free Transit Zone (700kb PDF map). Within this area you can jump on and off any bus or train passing through the CBD and travel for free. Need to travel a few blocks to get from the office to somewhere great for lunch or to do some shopping? Easy. At least it is in Perth. There are even extra free CAT buses that run specific routes within the CBD.
Sydney and Melbourne could learn a lot from TransPerth. Sydney’s lack of integrated ticketing (apart from all the other problems) is an organisation failure and a rip-off. Having to buy a new ticket for each leg of a journy means relatively short trips using multiple services quickly becomes expensive, and I usually get a taxi instead.
Melbourne has a perfectly functional ticket system, which is perhaps why the government has decided to waste a billion dollars to replace it with the myki rubbish. Whatever. The people defrauding the public will be held to account eventually. Hopefully they will be pushed under the wheels of the 112.
What Melbourne really needs is to replicate the Free Transit Zone immediately. It would reduce congestion and remove some cars from the CBD streets. The only free CBD public transport service, the City Circle Trams, are meant to be for tourists but they are mostly full of students, shoppers and office workers trying to complete journeys between train stations, tram lines and other destinations. And they really are full. Impossibly full. They are desparately needed, that is clear, but the government won’t pay attention to the obvious and provide more of the same.
Perth is also the first and so far only Perth city to have its public transport mapped and integrated into Google Maps – it’s called Google Transit. Click on Perth, make a route and watch it work. It’s brilliant. Melbourne is a long way behind and should be embarrased about it.
Melbourne, your Tram Tracker service is merely a novelty and unless you provide the data for free I will never us it. Neither will many other people. Public transport is supposed to be a service provided to the public, for which we pay with taxes and tickets. Printed timetables are free, so providing the same data electronically for a fee is a cynical revenue generating and customer exploiting practice that cannot be accepted. Unfortunately Metlink seems to have discovered how addicted to their phones Gen Ys are. Too many of them are gullible and pay for things that should be free.