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.

If it’s public transport, I’ll have what they’re having

2 thoughts on “If it’s public transport, I’ll have what they’re having

  • 14 April 2010 at 3:29 pm
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    The free city circle tram is now full of people coming into the city by train on their mykis and completing their journey on the free tram because the myki won’t work on the normal trams.

    Melbourne has the core of a fantastic PT system – a few tweaks would work wonders, but instead the govt puts all its effort into contracting it out. Such a shame.

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  • 15 April 2010 at 12:39 pm
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    BIG AL, I don’t think that’s why they are full – only 4% of train trips use myki

    Most people are waiting until it’s rolled out on all PT forms, I presume.

    I’m guessing a lot of the crowds on the city circle tram are residents in the CBD, so use that tram to get around rather than pay for a city saver or a two-hour ticket

    Tram Tracker app for the iPhone is free (and much more accurate than the electronic ones they have at the stops – don’t know why they don’t use the same data)

    Free trams in the city would be good – Free trams on the whole network would be better . All that Myki money, and huge subsidies to private companies could have run the whole thing for years!

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