Melbourne Public Transportation: Contempt for Customers

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Posted by Cynic | Posted in Australia, Melbourne | Posted on 17-06-2011

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Public transportation in Melbourne is the worst in the country. By a wide margin. It’s not even close. I just saw some rankings in the Herald Sun. Melbourne was rated 2 stars out of 5 in most categories. If they’re trying to be pathetic, they’re succeeding. Here’s an article about just how poor it Melbourne public transportation is.

But it’s worse. It seems like public transportation nationwide is a shambles. Here’s some information on poor public transport in Queensland. And Melbourne is the worst!

However, I think I have an answer as to why Melbourne is so bad: It’s run by jackasses who have nothing but contempt for their customers. Here’s some evidence!

Melbourne Metlink ad

If you fare evade, you shouldn’t be here

More checks, more fines, more often.

This is an ad? This is public relations form Melbourne’s Metlink? They think that accusing people of stealing in a public ad is a good thing? People will respect them for it? It will elevate their services in the public eye?

These jackasses show nothing but blatant and flagrant contempt for their customers. Does anyone really believe that they are capable of running a service properly when they treat their customers like that?

Clicking the link leads to this page:

http://metlinkmelbourne.com.au/news/news-promotions/fare-evaders-not-free-to-ride/

Copy and paste it, because I don’t want to actually link to these assholes.

The page reads (emphasis mine):

Metlink is stepping up the fight against fare evasion on behalf of fare-paying passengers sick of sharing their ride on public transport with freeloaders.

According to Metlink data, fare evaders are taking more than 225,000 trips each weekday and unfairly occupying valuable space on hundreds of trains, trams and buses.

To send a clear message that fare evasion will not be tolerated, Metlink has launched a new advertising campaign featuring a television commercial that shows fare evaders as scribbled out images that have no right to be travelling on the public transport network.

Fare evasion costs Victorian taxpayers and fare-paying passengers an estimated $80 million a year. This money could pay for two new X’Trapolis trains, six state-of-the-art trams and 28 air-conditioned low-floor buses, or four VLocity trains.

With fare evasion at its highest point in five years, Authorised Officers have also increased enforcement efforts. In the first four months of this year, more than 2.6 million tickets were checked, while around 36,000 fines for ticketing offences were issued by the Department of Transport.

Public transport operators have made inroads into reducing fare evasion, but this is a long term problem that requires a long term solution.

Through joint enforcement and marketing activities we want to make it known that for those who choose not to pay their way, the increasing likelihood is that they will be reported and face fines.

Fare evasion includes passengers travelling without a valid ticket, tickets that are not validated, concession tickets without an entitlement, expired tickets or tickets for the wrong zone.

Adults found travelling without a valid ticket face fines of $176 ($60 for those under 18).

Information on fares and ticketing is available from fares and tickets or by calling 131 638 6am – midnight daily.

Ahem. You could have been nice about it.

Yeah… I’m the pot calling the kettle black. I do occasionally rant a bit. But I don’t treat customers like shit. I actually value my customers. I rant about nasty stuff, and I don’t pull too many punches. That aside…

They do have some good points though. If they’re losing $80 million a year, that’s quite a bit. They certainly should be paid for providing the service. Maybe that $80 million could help them actually be on time for a change. I think people would like that. I would. If I took public transport that is. But I don’t. Because it’s so poor here.

Take a look at the ad again, then tell me if this could have worked a little better:

To the people here that paid their fares,

THANK YOU.

Fare evasion reduces services. Find out more.

It’s longer, but it’s certainly nicer. It sends a clear message that customers are valued, and that there is a problem. There’s a lot they could do with a campaign like that. They could ask people to help with fare evasion. Or whatever. But coming off and accusing people? Like that generates any kind of sympathy.

If you go by their ticketing numbers there, at least 1.4% of people (likely higher) don’t pay their fares. That’s a lot to skim off the top of gross revenues. I can see why they’d be upset about it.

But that’s not a license to treat the 98.6% of good customers like shit.

I’m not one of their customers, and with their attitude, I’m even more unlikely to ever take public transportation. The last time I took it, it took over 2 hours to travel a distance that should be about 30 minutes by car.  If they had a better approach to customers, I’d be much more inclined to take public transport.

It would just be nicer to see them take a nicer, or even a slightly less nasty approach.

Although, the general tactic of grouping everyone together and shouting at them seems to be common here in Victoria…

Cheers,

Ryan

  • Tim

    As a fare paying customer I never felt that the ‘nasty’ approach was the wrong way to go. And I’m not saying that it will necessarily work – but making freeloaders feel guilty certainly makes me feel a bit better.

    • I suppose that it doesn’t bother some people.

      I just really don’t like being yelled at. I find it insulting when I get yelled at for doing nothing wrong (I usually have a pretty thick skin). It’s the general “you’re guilty until you prove yourself innocent” approach to advertising/billboards that just irks me.

      The vast majority of people are good, and do pay their way. So it just seems to me that thanking those people is a nicer way, although it may be somewhat passive-aggressive. 🙂

  • felm

    any person trained in psychology will tell you punishment doesnt work to change behaviour. only positive reinforcement works. also ryan if it took you that long i think you fucked it somehow…or you are just exaggerating and ranting because you dont like the ad. fact is, the public only have themselves to blame for poor PT. if everyone, like yourself, who could take it DID, instead of driving, then the government would be forced into actually doing something about it, instead of building new roads for lazy grumps like yourself. there, that’s MY rant. on another note, i really like the song in the ad, know what it is by any chance? 😉

  • Great argument. After being treated badly and witnessing plenty of borderline abuse I found comfort in this article after angrily googling for peoples opinions on the service after receiving a letter from them today (Although told “it probably won’t go through mate, it’s just up to them”). This was after being reported for not having a ticket as I had forgotten to touch off on my previous trip therefor my ‘touch on’ for the new trip deducted a huge amount and left me without touching on. After confidently giving my myki to the inspector and him telling me it had no money I was evidently confused although my reaction seemed a sham as he patronised my general confusion and proceeded to report me because “I already fined that man over there” (who was undoubted intoxicated and judging by his body language, his completely inebriation, the fact he was travelling to Watsonia and the fact he was passed out for the whole trip at 1:30pm all led to the conclusion he was on heroin).

    I live on the Hurstbridge line, in Hurstbridge, I’ve been catching the 8:20 (recently changed to the 8:17 which is so helpful..) since I was 14, I turn 20 next week and maybe if i’m lucky that $180 fine (It’s gone up) if I can’t get out of it (can’t believe I have to get out of anything in the first place) will be spent on manning stations and keeping customers safe because I’ve lost a lot of money to this privately owned money pit and I don’t want to loose a tooth to it cause It sure ain’t getting safer.