Photos from 1988
  Richard Youl

The first photo was taken inside Brunswick depot during the evening peak hour. In those days there was a noticeable improvement in headways in the peaks. For example route 19 went from 10 trams per hour to 13. Thus the depot is almost empty. However the Z at the far left was probably defective as this was the road for trams awaiting repairs of some sort. Note that every W is out on the road.

The next photo is of Yours Truly working as a seated conductor in a Z. Not a photo of wonderful quality and I don’t know who took it for me. Nevertheless it does show the layout of the desk in the days of Zone Fares and paper tickets. There was an electrically controlled ticked punch which cut a rectangular slot into the ticket. These were the most commonly used tickets by fraudsters as reinserting the missing bit was fairly easy. The fraudster usually had their finger of the repair so I asked to handle the ticket myself. Gotcha!

Brunswick depot at that time was a ‘Split Roster’ depot meaning that W class crews normally did not work on the 19 to North Coburg via Sydney Rd and Elizabeth St and Z crews did not normally work on the Lygon and Swanston St runs, the 1 and 15, East Coburg to South Melbourne Beach and Moreland to St Kilda Beach.

New staff to the depot started on the Ws and then if they wished (nearly all did) to advance to the Z class they could. It was however an unpaid promotion, the more cushy trams being the incentive. Anyone on “Light Duties” could get a seated conductor’s job for health reasons, but it is amazing how many refound their mobility when the desks were abolished!

Nevertheless the W class crews had to be familiar with the 19 and each afternoon a W was rostered to do a round trip on that route. And W conductors were occasionally given a DOC (Day Off Cancelled, overtime shift) on the Z cars, thus my conducting shift.

Additionally Z crews (maybe just the drivers, I forget), once a month were rostered to work the Ws for a week to remain familiar with the trams and the routes. The odd driver or two hated this week and made the life of the conductors and passengers a misery as they tossed the tram about. Usually W drivers were not yet trained to drive Zs so stayed with the Ws.

Definition of a “Good” Brunswick driver - One who ran early and caught up to the tram ahead so that the connie had less work to do! I soon reached the conclusion that ‘Brunswick time’ was at least 5 minutes ahead of Eastern Standard, including departing from a terminus.

The final photo shows a conductress on a Z in earlier times and shows the ticket machines with which the Z class were fitted until Zone fares commenced. The large black box is the coin dispenser, visible in both photos.


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