From: Roderick Smith [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: Thursday, 20 April 2017 1:57 PM
Subject: snippets, Thurs.20.4.17
No transport-related tenders were called on Wednesday.
April 19 2017 Yarra Trams cuts short hundreds of trams a day to get back on time .
Melbourne tram passengers are being left stranded as the network operator tries to avoid huge fines for missing its punctuality targets.
Yarra Trams short shunted almost 11,000 tram services to get back on time last month, more than 350 times a day on average, leaked figures show.
Trams bank up along Swanston Street. Photo: Joe Armao .
March was Yarra Trams' worst month in more than a year, with 78.5 per cent of the city's trams running on schedule according to PTV monitoring, which counts a tram as on-time when it is less than five minutes late or one minute early.
But that official figure does not take into account the thousands of times when a tram failed to even reach the end of the line before reversing direction.
Yarra Trams short shunted more than 350 trams a day last month. Photo: Eddie Jim .
A total of 10,980 tram services in March were "shorts", a leaked internal performance report shows.
This compares with 8300 shorts in March 2016 and represents a sharp 25 per cent deterioration in performance from one year to the next for Yarra Trams..
Short shunting is the term for when a tram service is terminated and the tram is turned back before it has reached the end of the route.
According to the internal report, Yarra Trams has calculated that it will be fined $2.05 million for its poor performance in March, under the terms of its franchise agreement with the state.
In some cases the expected penalties for short runs and cancellations topped $100,000 a day, the report shows.
Collisions with cars, pedestrian knock downs, passenger falls, overhead power failures and train cancellations also contributed to the very high number of short runs.
Under its contract, Yarra Trams receives bonuses and penalties based a complex formula of how many passengers are affected by delayed or cancelled trams.
Short-shunted services incur a penalty, though this penalty might be smaller than allowing a late-running tram to continue to the end of the line.
Yarra Trams spokeswoman Amelia Cater said there were 104 collisions between trams and vehicles in March, more than any month in at least eight years, and this was largely the cause of the huge number of short services.
Crashes can take hours to clear and make it impossible to keep to the timetable, she said.
"The decision to stop a tram short of its destination is almost always made to ensure trams aren't banked up nose-to-tail leaving passengers stranded," Ms Cater said.
Some short-shunted trams immediately begin to collect waiting passengers in the other direction, who otherwise would be left stranded.
But Phil Altieri, tram division secretary of the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, said Yarra Trams' performance in March, the first month it reverted from a quieter summer timetable to a regular schedule, was a sign the operator was incapable of sticking to the timetable without cutting corners.
Tram drivers "are getting pushed to reduce running time, and it's not realistic", he said.
This included putting dozens of the company's slowest drivers on an "improvement program" in an effort to train them to do their job more speedily.
Mr Altieri said that rather than target drivers who struggle to stick to an unrealistic schedule, the timetable should be reviewed to accurately reflect the time it takes to safely travel along each route.
Increased traffic congestion and unrealistic tram travel times were a dangerous mix, he said.
"Once you put pressure on people to do things they perhaps shouldn't it becomes a safety risk," he said.
The number of short services Yarra Trams runs from month to month has never been publicly revealed, unlike the practice of station skipping by Metro Trains.
Station skipping has fallen to negligible levels since Public Transport Victoria began to publish the figure each month.
In March, just one Metro service skipped stations, PTV data shows, compared with a high of 322 services in May 2014 when Metro readily skipped stations to stay on time.
The Andrews government has indicated it wants to introduce tougher financial penalties against Yarra Trams for short shunting in the next phase of the franchise agreement, which is being negotiated with Yarra Trams' owner, Keolis Downer.
The current eight-year agreement will expire in November.
The official March punctuality result of 78.5 per cent was inside Yarra Trams' contractual monthly performance target of 77 per cent, meaning passengers were ineligible for compensation, but the result did not factor in the impact to passengers of cutting short thousands of services.
* You only need to look at Swanston St to see this in action, every single day. If you go to Queensbury St tram stop, you'll see a common occurrence of hundreds of passengers (predominantly students) being kicked off the Melbourne Uni-bound trams. These passengers will then board overcrowded trams behind, that now sit delayed whilst the short shunted tram turns back, further delaying those who got kicked off and those already on the trams behind.
To compound the issue further, it doesn't just affect the Uni-bound passengers, but also those coming from Melb Uni which can be exceptionally busy during peak hour/lunchtime.
If you're really lucky (like me every month or two) you'll even get three consecutive trams be short shunted at Queensbury St. Yes that's right three!
* No wonder they changed the destination screens from 'Melb Uni' to 'City/Melb Uni' a few years back, because its misleading to promise it'll always end up reaching Melb Uni...
* Oh yeah, or if you are waiting at Lincoln Sq for the6 "we'll see if we decide to run it 7, you can be stranded for up to half an hour
* and then they wonder why I prefer to drive my car.
* It's farcical that the whole system is designed to operate around the profit motive of the operator rather than providing a service to customers. Again, we see the great benefits of privatisation.
And they wonder why I ride my bike.
* public transport has been hopelessly neglected under both major parties forever - they are completely beholden to the roads lobby.
So let's kick them out, people. Vote Labor/Libs last and vote for the minor parties, especially for the upper house. There are some decent ones out there...
* I have no issue with short shunting. It generally happens within the last couple of km's from the end of the line and there is another tram directly behind it. Delaying people by maybe a further 2 minutes.
Much rather this than groups of trams just bunched together travelling up and down the line all day.
Until there is better tram priority, this will continue. Stop blaming Yarra Trams and look at the government for answers.
* The 86 is a classic Shunting Tram - delays are generally 15 mins.
* However this normally happens more frequently on hot days. Which forces people to have to walk in the heat. Which has happened to me so many times on the number 86 tram to docklands where they stop on La Trobe and turn it around.
* I totally disagree. This happens on the 19 tram along Elizabeth street all the time, where it stops at Melbourne Central rather than Flinders Street.. The delay is generally at least 10 minutes by the time everyone gets off the tram and waits for another tram, often the next tram is too full for everyone to get on....a few weeks ago I had to wait for four trams to go by until I could get on the next one that had any space. I was delayed by at least 20 minutes. I live in Brunswick. It should take me 20 minutes total to get to the city on public transport.
* As well as this issue, I have also found that tram drivers resort to skipping stops when they are running behind. This is particularly prominent on routes 5 & 64. Drivers simply ignore commuters requests to let them off the tram at their stops, instead dropping them off several stops past where they wish to get off. This is not good, especially for eledelry and disabled people who are then required to walk further.
* Not only trams. I regularly wait at the bus stop and watch the bus drive past without stopping as it is running a couple of minutes behind schedule. Public transport is a joke. And we're paying for it!
* VICTORIANS It is shameful that our governments [labor and liberal lead] and our public servants and our watchdogs have ALL allowed this to happen.
Shame on them all !
* Maybe if we bring another 100,000 people into Melbourne next year, tram and road congestion will reduce?
* A symptom of increased population and jobs within the tram service region, leading to increased patronage (good!) with increased stationary time for passenger loadings at stops. Added to this is the steadily increasing road traffic levels and congestion.
Yes, it is the responsibility of the state government to fund expanded infrastructure, especially with new "smart" value capture taxation on properties according to the accessibility benefits enjoyed by their owners and/or residents.
Governments want more people in Australia, but this comes with the obligation to fund services and infrastructure. Don't make Yarra Trams the whipping boy!
* I think it all part of a strategic master transport plan - https://thinkingfuturethoughts.wordpress.com/2017/04/07/the-masterly-tram-plan/
* Happens to me once a weekPigdon Street - Stop 21,Apr 19 2017 at 7:03pm On the 96 now and it just happened to tram in front!
* No doubt the dud contracts with the private providers over the past 12 years need to be scrapped or redone properly when they are due so that the private operators are accountable for their actions.
* If I were Yarra Trams, I'd walk away. How come you are punished when someone drives into a tram? Or there is an accident stopping/slowing progress?
Over the last few years Melbourne roads have become so much harder, particularly many major routes that also carry trams.
I honestly don't know how you undo the bad decisions that caused this, or the ones that are perpetuating it. At least Premier Andrews has fixed some level crossings. Perhaps he can grasp this nettle too; unlike his impotent predecessors.
* How can trams be expected to run to timetables when so much track is shared with cars. Especially in peak times.
Forget about targets. Just put more trams on the tracks.
* And get the cars off them, or at least give trams better traffic light priority. Delayed 2-3 minutes at every second intersection because 1 person is turning right in front of the tram... the tram just needs a 10 second "T" light to keep going, but gets a red for an entire cycle instead...
* Ahrr yes timetables, trams [running ahead of time I suppose] often go up Camberwell road at 20 to 40 ks and stop for extended periods near parked cars, in the middle of stops: its deliberate
* Fine 'em, no exceptions.
When they offer back the contract, take it - no compensation.
The "benefits" of privatisation were a fallacy. Why prop Yarra Trams Up?
* It is called short shunting. It has been routine practice for 100 years. Standard practice has always to short shunt when (a) a service is substantially late, and (b) passengers can be carried by another tram immediately behind or ahead. Nothing new here. Let's stop pretending it is news.
Calls to urgently revise the timetable to make it more realistic and avoid so many late-running trams were certainly commonplace through the 1970s and 1980s when I travelled on and worked on the tramway system. There is no reason to suppose that the timetables now are any more realistic than they were then. Timetables are drawn up by shiny-bums in head office who know little about reality and lots about the moods of their political masters. (Or corporate masters these days.) Always have been. Probably always will be.
* Melbourne trams are already some of the slowest in the world. We don't need to further pad the timetable.
Need tram priority instead, so they can at least keep the timetables they've got as more cars get on the road.
* How efficiently or not the tram system can run is almost entirely within the hands of the state government, as the government is responsible for traffic management and so decides how much congestion the trams will have to suffer.
Melbourne's trams are a valuable asset, but the value is wasted by forcing them to run such long distances in congested mixed traffic conditions. That affects not only the speed but also the reliability, which is why they end up bunching.
We need more tram priority measures. The government can't duck its responsibility for managing the infrastructure.
* The figures for Metro skipping stations are wrong. I was personally on two or three city loop trains last month that went straight to Flinders St.
* Trams are a) pretty frequent, and b) if they're held up the whole system collapses. Turning them around means schedules are kept and trams are spread across the network and not clumped together in one place. The Age seems to be obsessed about how private companies want to meet targets so they get money. Sorry, but that's what they do. If the govt was running trams, they'd still do short shunting, because it's necessary for the system to work.
* And I thought short shunting was the driver wanting to get back to the depot so he/she could finish their shift on time - as I like too!
Either the company pays or you pay. If Yarra trams pays then they or the next operator will make you pay with $ instead of your time.
It's unfortunate that the nature of trams is that they share the road with cars.
How about we reduce the number of tram stops by half...remove all the even numbered stops?
* I am guessing that one big reason trams are running late is because they get stuck at traffic lights. The obvious measure to remedy this: Give trams strict priority by making them switch the traffic lights ahead of them to green. However, that would inconvenience car traffic, and thus it can't be done, politically. Blame the politics, not the tram operator.
* Public transport should aim at being a viable alternative to driving or cycling, first and foremost; making profits should not be of a huge concern. That's why privatising such a vital part of a modern city is never a good idea, public transport should be under direct public control.
With Yarra trams' motivation being making more money, no penalties will help improve the tram service. They simply have no reason for making changes to actually improve the service as the company will simply look for new ways to avoid or minimise the penalties while reducing the operation costs.
April 20 2017 Paul Fletcher boards the Malcolm Turnbull express .
Nothing screams modern politics like making a long-term plan and sticking to it. Yep, once we're on the right track, that's where we stay.
And nowhere, outside of who is in the prime minister's office, is this more clear than in infrastructure planning where the priorities for multibillion-dollar investments aren't changed more than once, or maybe twice, a decade or electoral cycle, whichever is shorter.
Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher. Photo: Louise Kennerley .
Paul Fletcher, who is Urban Infrastructure Minister for the minute, was keen to impress upon the audience at a CEDA event in Melbourne that a long-term plan was being followed through by the government as it considered where to sod-turn taxpayer money.
He pointed to the formulation of urban rail plans together with the state governments as an example of how the Coalition was all about setting a direction and staying the course.
Tony Abbott famously declared that urban rail was not the federal government's 'knitting'. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen .
He conceded that yes, in the past, Commonwealth funding for urban rail had been "relatively ad hoc".
Well that's one way of putting it. Under Labor's GFC-busting building plan – which we are, of course, all still paying off – urban rail got more than a little bit of Canberra's dough.
But then along came Tony Abbott who famously declared that urban rail was not the federal government's "knitting".
That all changed once Fletcher and others jumped aboard the Turnbull express and now, surely, there's no chance of derailing that.