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Just for fun: <www.escape.com.au/top-lists/countrys-most-popular-souvenirs-will-surprise-you/image-gallery/cbbf5850f267cf0b3fd7423b40b08c35> I never buy souvenirs, but did by one on this list: a Bolivian poncho. My photos are my souvenirs.
Wed.3.2.21 Metro Twitter
Buses replace trains Mordialloc - Frankston/Stony Point until the last train of Sun 7 Feb (level-crossing works). See https://levelcrossings.vic.gov.au/disruptions/frankston-and-stony-point-lines-buses-replace-trains-jan-feb-21
12.47 Frankston line: Major delays (a train fault between Parkdale and Mordialloc). Trains may be altered or cancelled.
- 12.55 minor and clearing.
Soon, it'll be out with the Old at Hoppers Crossing. Major works have now kicked off at Old Geelong Rd. The new road bridge over the rail line will connect Princes Highway to Old Geelong Rd and remove the level crossing for ever See http://bit.ly/OGRMajorWorks
Buses replace trains North Melbourne - Upfield from 20.35 until the last train (maintenance works).
Glen Waverley line: Buses replace trains Parliament - Darling from 20.40 until the last train (maintenance works).
Lilydale/Belgrave lines: Buses replace trains Parliament - Burnley from 20.50 until the last train (maintenance works).
Sunbury/Craigieburn/Upfield lines: All trains run direct to/from Flinders St from 21.00 until the last train (maintenance works). From loop stations, take a Flinders St train from pfm 1.
Pakenham/Cranbourne lines: All trains direct to/from Flinders St from 21.00 until the last train (maintenance works). From loop stations, take a Flinders St train from pfm 1.
21.07 Pakenham/Cranbourne lines: Major delays (police action after a near hit with a trespasser near Oakleigh).
- 21.20 clearing.
- 21.32 My train is not moving; currently at Westall.
Melbourne’s inner-city has bounced back post lockdown, with businesses hopeful for 2021 SUE GREEN FEB 2, 2021
Andrew McConnell is a Melbourne believer. After spending much of the late 1990s cooking in big-name eateries across Europe and Asia – the boy from Box Hill North came home to Melbourne 20 years ago to open his first restaurant, Dining Room 211 in Fitzroy.
Last year, as the pandemic saw Melbourne all but boarded-up devastating businesses, McConnell – best known for restaurants Cumulus and Cutler & Co – opened not one but two new hospitality venues, cocktail bar Gimlet at Cavendish House, two years in the making, and Morning Market, a pandemic response in Fitzroy’s Gertrude Street.
Andrew McConnell of Cutler & Co. Photo: Supplied
“I am kind of done with anxiety. I’m quietly confident that the new year will present other challenges but I think we are better equipped to deal with these challenges as they arise. I have confidence about Melbourne,” he says.
COVID-19 restrictions closed Melbourne hospitality, retail and other businesses from March 23 until late October last year, with a small June window. During those tortuous months, some went to the wall. Others struggle. A pre-vaccines City of Melbourne Economic Impacts of COVID-19 report found it may be 2024 before its economy returns to 2019 levels. A $100 million Melbourne City recovery fund was announced in September.
Lockdown may seem like a (thankfully) distant memory, but stark reminders of what we’ve been through are still there – clusters in the south-eastern suburbs, signing in at venues to help contact tracers and the normality of having masks at the ready.
As Melbourne’s “covid-normal” summer draws to a close, many of the city’s surviving businesses are taking lessons learned from lockdown and looking to the rest of 2021 with optimism and innovative ideas – edging toward a return to our pre-pandemic ways.
McConnell now has nine businesses, one of his most recent, Morning Market pantry, fronted by colourful flowers for sale, began as a covid pop-up, bringing wholesale and restaurant suppliers to locals and loyal customers. With its Cutler & Co neighbour, it enjoys outdoor seating in carparks demarcated by pink bollards, a Yarra City Council move to help businesses.
“People are absolutely loving the outside dining, I would love to explore whether there is a way for outside dining to become a fixture of Yarra life,” enthuses new Yarra mayor Gabrielle de Vietri. A Greens first-time councillor and public transport supporter, she emphasises linking pandemic and climate change responses, but knows there’s pressure for more parking.
The pandemic spurred Di Vietri to shift from art activism to local government. “I saw it as a real opportunity to reset the way we live and work and travel. It has kept us apart but in a lot of ways we have created this sense of community like never before. It really did show us how we can adapt when we have too, how resilient we are as communities.”
As businesses re-open and people make their way back to the city, Melburnians share their hopes for 2021. Illustration: Kat Chadwick
Lessons have been learnt, McConnell says. “I think that what has changed just for me personally is to be able to have the confidence to make big decisions quickly and act on them. It was like that but not in such extreme scenarios – your business and livelihood on the line.
“I think not just me personally but the industry as a whole will be stronger, will be more dynamic and potentially more sustainable. People’s business models will have to be adaptable.”
Rosy Morton agrees. For 20 years the owner of Bourke street identity Paperback Books, she, like McConnell, weathered the GFC. Her store traded throughout 2020, supportive customers and book-hungry Melburnians enabling survival.
Morton says an integrated ordering/computing system installed in April and a newly active social-media presence helped online shopping grow dramatically. The customer base, missing tourists and city foot traffic, expanded to outer suburbs and regional Victoria. “Previously, we had an online shop but we never had that much need for it,” she recalls.
Customers were outside when the doors reopened, but the online business remains strong. “Now it is integrated into our business. It has changed the balance about how much is online and how much is face to face.”
Previously wary of marketing – “I just wanted to have a shop with really great books” – Morton now says, “social media showed us people appreciate that stuff, it’s a way of sharing and we have more customers with that.
“We have been around for a long time and a tendency to think, ‘that’s the way we have always done things’. This year has showed that it is good to shake things up a bit and it makes you look at what you are doing and why and appreciate it.”
Paperback Books’ has trimmed its stock and was “lucky with our landlord” during lockdown. But it has constantly adapted to city changes, Morton notes. “This is a bigger concentrated dose of this.”
Palace Cinema Balwyn opened for choc tops during lockdown. Photo: Greg Briggs
For some, 2021 is less about adapting to “the new normal” than returning to what customers longed for: the old normal. Palace Cinemas’ eight Melbourne venues closed for eight months. Chief executive Benjamin Zeccola expects audience numbers should fully recover by Easter.
There’s a backlog of excellent films to be screened. “By the time we run out of the backlog [film studios] would have brought production up to speed,” he predicts.
Palace linked with its movie-going community – 45 per cent seniors – with newsletters, free online movies and occasional openings for popcorn and choc-top sales, some loyal Balwyn customers bought boxes of 50. Ventilation was improved at its cinemas nationwide. And on December 11, it opened its glitzy 15-screen Pentridge complex.
“Customers coming back in are telling us they are just so glad to be able to come back to the cinema. We feel like it is about getting back to having a steady flow of great movies, great entertainment,” Zeccola says.
For McConnell, too, the way things were is part of recovery: “I think that a big part of what we are doing is now about consumer confidence and I think that is growing a lot more than I expected.
“I think a lot of things will go back to the way they were pre-pandemic. The simple fact is that people will still want to go to restaurants and eat good food prepared by people who care. The core of what we do won’t change.”
Dining on the streets: City’s outdoor experiment tipped for extension. Bianca Hall February 3, 2021
Melbourne’s pop-up outdoor dining and drinking venues could remain at least until the eve of winter, while the city undertakes detailed economic analysis assessing the benefits of the experiment.
Melbourne City Council unanimously voted to examine extending the policy, which has so far led to more than 1300 outdoor dining permits being issued. It was due to expire at the end of March.
The parklet out the front of Archie’s All Day cafe in Gertrude Street.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO
City of Melbourne unveiled its outdoor dining experiment in September, modelling it on New York’s Open Restaurants initiative, which was credited with helping 9500 restaurants and cafes stay afloat amid COVID-19 restrictions.
Lord mayor Sally Capp said at the time the initiative would help bring businesses back from the brink of bankruptcy and lure people back into the CBD.
City of Melbourne has also installed outdoor dining “parklets” in 200 car-parking spaces across 100 locations.
The scheme’s timeline was due to expire on March 31, and Cr Capp said there was an urgent need to provide businesses with certainty beyond that deadline.
“Every day matters for our business owners and their employees,” she said.
Council officers will investigate making the outdoor venues permanent and will prepare a report for the council analysing the economic benefits of pop-up outdoor spaces, business satisfaction with the scheme, any barriers that could dissuade businesses from taking it up and the impacts on the amenity of the city.
They will also look at the long-term funding of the scheme, which has so far been supported by $30 million from an overall $100 million fund for the city’s recovery provided by the Victorian government.
City of Yarra also voted on Tuesday night to explore ways to make outdoor dining permanent or recurrent, supporting a motion put forward by Councillor Sophie Wade that described the scheme as aiding the inner-north’s “social recovery and wellbeing by encouraging our communities to occupy public space”.
However, Yarra councillors noted the council had received both positive and negative feedback from the community on various outdoor dining parklets.
Anthony Brem, owner of Gertrude Street cafe Archie’s All Day, said having temporary seating in front of his cafe had meant he had not been forced to lay off any of his workers.
“With our reduced seating inside it makes up the difference ... [we’re] probably at about 90 per cent capacity, which means we haven’t had to lay off any staff, we haven’t had to reduce staffing levels at all,” he said.
While his permit does not allow him to put heating outside, Mr Brem was in favour of continuing the outdoor dining experiment during the colder months.
video Victoria establishes nine hubs to store and distribute Pfizer vaccine Nine hubs will be established across Victorian public hospitals to store and distribute the COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine.
“From what I can tell people really love sitting out there, and if they come prepared they should be pretty okay on most days ... you win some, you lose some, but it’s still better to have it.”
Melbourne Councillor Philip Le Liu said the coming months would be make or break for many of the city’s hospitality venues, and they needed certainty.
“Given what we know about JobKeeper and also the state of our economy we are pretty much approaching, potentially, a cliff edge where a lot of business will be either break or survive.”
Catch all the day’s headlines
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* Once again no mention of the impact this causes to inner city and city residents. Do the people making these decisions even know that people also live in the CBD?
* Let's hope the City of Yarra also extends outdoor dining in parklets.
* Yes, keep this in place. 3 or 4 tables doing kerbside dining provides so much more value to businesses than a single car parked (which might not even visit that business). It's a no brainer!
* Thanks for this article. I'm curious about the negatives reported by some community members in Yarra, as noted by Council. These negatives were not elaborated on in the article, but it would be useful to understand people's concerns. This way, they could potentially be managed by councils or business owners.
* At some stage Sally will have to deal with reality and start planning for a post Covid normal in which 50% of these businesses won't be needed. The way to survive for them is to get out to the suburbs!
Sydney’s public transport costs surge after concessions are cut. Tom Rabe February 3, 2021. 75 comments
The cost of travelling on Sydney’s public transport has surged more than 10 per cent after the government widened the peak-hour window and changed travel concession rules.
The consumer price index for urban transport in Sydney rose by 10.5 per cent in the three months to December, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Commuters at Sydney’s Central Station during the pandemic.CREDIT:JANIE BARRETT
The ABS said the NSW government’s cessation of discounts on Sydney off-peak fares was the main contributing factor to the CPI increase.
The government last year increased off-peak travel concessions from 30 to 50 per cent for three months between July and September in a bid to spread commuter loads across the day to improve social distancing during the pandemic.
It also widened the peak-hour window, increasing the amount of time each day that commuters would have to pay the higher fee. The changes mean close to 20 per cent of all trips per day will be subject to increased peak hour pricing, the government said in June.
Despite Sydney traffic figures hovering at just 1.5 per cent below pre-COVID levels on Monday, public transport was about 40 per cent down, with 1.2 million trips taken, compared to 2.1 million the same time last year.
University of Technology transport expert Mathew Hounsell said the government needed to consider tinkering with fares to encourage people back to public transport.
“They do need to look at adjusting the peak time again, because the peak surcharge was designed to reduce crowding on public transport, it wasn’t designed to increase the amount of tax the government collected,” he said.
“If there’s no crowding, they need to look at shrinking that period so they encourage people back.”
But Transport Minister Andrew Constance said there were no immediate plans to increase travel concessions despite the CPI increase. Mr Constance said he expected patronage could increase by up to 75 per cent of pre-pandemic levels in coming months.
“People are very much still opting to use cars instead of public transport, which during a pandemic is ok,” he said.
“I’m not surprised by these numbers, given we’ve had a seeding event over the summer ... that it’s a million down on the transport network every day.”
Mr Constance said Transport for NSW had taken a “massive” hit to revenue during the pandemic, and was deliberately seeking to keep fares affordable.
“We’ve got to recognise that the taxpayer is subsidising the operations very significantly already and will continue, and eventually it will start to smooth out when we get a better feel for how the pandemic will play out,” he said.
A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said the three month discount decreased the average urban transport costs in the September quarter, which offset the latest increase.
Opposition transport spokesman Chris Minns said the government needed to address its increasing fares and keep people off Sydney’s congested roads.
“This government continues to undermine public transport in this state, forcing more commuters onto their toll-mania network of toll roads,” he said.
“This is not simply due to the withdrawal of the additional off-peak discount. The government’s latest public transport fare changes included widening the peak window by three hours per day.”
An ABS spokesman said the government’s cessation of the concessions was the driving factor in the CPI increase.
“In this sort of scenario the percentage change for the return in prices is expected to be larger than the fall, as the same dollar amount is being compared to a lower price level in the previous quarter, and hence constitutes a higher proportion of that level,” the spokesman said.
They said the changes to the peak hour window did impact CPI, but it was largely offset by the permanent 30 per cent off-peak discounts.
In the last 2 months the government has made more buses 'limited stops' and 24/7!
Sydney's Parramatta Rd services 461 & 438 are now 461X & 438X permanently.
I now need to walk an extra 100m to my usual stop at 9pm on a week night while these buses sale past my former, convenient, stop with 3 people on board. We'll done Mr Constance.
It proves my theory that public transport is designed by those who don't catch it.
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Most comments were hostile. Have just two samples.
* This was published 2 years ago - SMH, Matt O'Sullivan. Opal creep: average fares rise 10 per cent since ticketing overhaul..."The average Opal fare that passengers pay for using NSW's public transport has risen by 10 per cent since an overhaul of ticketing just over a year ago, delivering revenue of about $30 million a week to the state government, internal figures show."
"While a regulated fare rise in July was kept to inflation, the figures obtained by the Herald under freedom of information laws show commuters have actually paid more for their travel since the changes to the fare structure in September 2016."....
* So many questions can be answered with a simple answer
- Why are they making public transport more expensive?
- Why are they moving to a lower service level for buses by putting them in private hands?
- Why did parametics, nursed and teachers miss out on a full pay rise this year
- Why have they discontinued so many cross city buses, ie the old M series M40, plus 343, 136 and 257, forcing passengers to change in the city?
- How come they ran an advertisment for westconnex on a poster at Lidcombe railway station?
- Why are they planning to sink 3 of the 4 Manly Ferries?
- Why won't they filter exhaust stacks on toll tunnels (after promising to do so)?
- Why are they now considering tolling the bridge and harbour tunnel north bound as well as south?
- Why are the Warringah freeway ramps that lead to routes such roads as flatrock drive (and other alternative paths north that avoid the planned Beaches Link) being closed off to all traffic other than that coming from/to North Sydney and lanes 1 and 8 on the bridge?
- Why are they running so many toll tunnel advertisments that gloss over the problems with parking at the venues (with existing good public transport) advertised as now being "properly connected" with a toll road.
- Who is going to pay a toll to drive on a giant U turn (wesconnex twin spoke radial toll tunnels) if they cant get out in the city via routes such as the anzac bridge.
- How will they be able to afford to run buses from Drumoyne and Gladesville to the CBD in peak hour when west connex delivers all that traffic onto the Anzac bridge (justification for WHT I think)
- Now there are many answers put up to these questions but you can always have more that one reason for doing something, but this one below works for all these questions would you not agree.
Universal answer or reason for all the above: The WHT at $15billion (think 20% of all NSW government expendature for a year) and its partner the beaches link (cost unknown) make up the worlds most expensive radial motorway, unique in that it does'nt lead out of the city but has a catchment ending at Palm Beach and they need the money to build and run it in the form of tolls, or savings from other areas of the state budget. Not sure what the short fall is but Northconnex is $4 for a $3billion tunnel so the maths ain't pretty
PSOs return to more stations after being redeployed to fight coronavirus. WES HOSKING February 3, 2021
PSOs were redeployed for the coronavirus fight, now they are returning to more train stations ahead of the back-to-work rush.
video: Andrews – Back to work numbers relaxed (9 News) Victoria’s staged return to work will be accelerated this month with new health advice allowing office workers to return to 75% capacity.
Protective services officers diverted to bolster the coronavirus fight have begun returning to train stations.
The officers — redeployed in April last year — returned to more than a dozen stations this week.
The move comes as 75 per cent of all workers are allowed back in the office from Monday.
It means PSOs are now on duty at 97 stations statewide.
The figure had been cut to 83 of the busiest as Victoria battled skyrocketing coronavirus case numbers.
PSOs were used to patrol Melbourne’s deserted CBD and major activity precincts at the height of the pandemic. Picture: Nicole Cleary
Victoria Police Transit Safety Division Superintendent Alison Boyes told the Herald Sun: “With some of our Protective Services Officers deployed to assist with the hotel quarantine program, we have adapted our operating model to ensure we remain flexible while maintaining coverage across the entire public transport network.”
“As part of this approach, PSOs will remain highly visible at more than a dozen of Victoria’s busiest train stations, including Flinders Street, Southern Cross and Richmond, from the first train in the morning to the last train in the evening,’’ Superintendent Boyes said.
“Throughout the evening, mobile PSOs will patrol all metropolitan stations as they travel within dedicated sections of the network. This will ensure PSOs not only have a presence on railway platforms, but also in carriages from 6pm until the last service.”
Before the pandemic PSOs patrolled 212 metropolitan train stations and four in regional areas — Bendigo, Traralgon, Ballarat and Geelong.
This week’s boost means PSOs will operate at 93 metropolitan and the four regional stations from 6pm until the last train, seven days a week.
Thirteen of the busiest stations will have a PSO on site from the morning until the last train at night.
They are Flinders Street, Southern Cross, Richmond, Parliament, Melbourne Central, North Melbourne, Box Hill, Ringwood, Caulfield, Frankston, Dandenong, Sunshine and Footscray.
All other stations will be patrolled by mobile PSOs from 6pm until the last service.
PSOs played a crucial role keeping watch on city businesses during lockdown. Picture: Nicole Cleary
“Victoria Police will remain alongside the community on the public transport network to ensure that people not only are safe, but feel safe,’’ Superintendent Boyes said.
“With more than 5000 CCTV cameras at metropolitan stations and cameras on every station platform and train carriage, our PSOs and Transit Police are well supported and equipped to protect community safety.”
Around 200 PSOs were on April 9 last year sent to patrol major activity centres in Melbourne’s CBD and regional and suburban hubs as part of Operation Shielding as train patronage slumped as much as 90 per cent during lockdown.
They are now part of the hotel quarantine program.
More Coverage Police, ADF and PSOs go to war against covidiotsPSO allegedly assaulted people twice while on duty
* With our increasing population - have PSO's at EVERY SINGLE STATION.
* Why do PSO need guns to monitor stations?
* Because occasionally they will be confronted by people armed with edged weapons or firearms and may not have the opportunity to make it back to the station to arm themselves.
* If we're really lucky the might actually bring our crime squad detectives back from checking boarder passes to do what they’re supposed to be doing.
* why did they leave too scared or giving out tickets for covid 19 breaches what a waste
Melbourne’s Star Observation Wheel sold to Swiss group Robu. Eli Greenblat February 3, 2021 Australian Business Network. 10 comments [with ATN]
Wed.3.2.21 Melbourne 'Herald Sun'. Office workers set for city comeback. Joy for CBD food outlets. JOHN DAGGE KIERAN ROONEY JOHN MASANAUSKAS
MAJOR Melbourne employers are cranking up plans to return thousands of workers to CBD offices but they caution the process will be gradual and the pandemic has birthed a permanent shift in working from home.
The state government on Tuesday announced office capacity would be increased to 75 per cent for the private and public sectors. The new rules, coming after the state recorded 27 days without community transmission cases, kick in from Monday.
Daniel Andrews said the increase was particularly great news for cafes, restaurants and other businesses that relied on foot traffic.
“They can rely on more and more people being in the city and the suburbs,” the Premier said.He said the public transport network was safe, adding further announcements would be made to help support increased passenger numbers and urging Victorians who would typically catch a train, tram or bus to do so rather than drive and add to traffic.
“The notion of making a different choice because you’re uncertain about the safety of public transport, I don’t think you have to make that choice,” Mr Andrews said.
“If public transport wasn’t safe the Chief Health Officer wouldn’t have us running it.”
Victorian Chamber of Commerce boss Paul Guerra said footfall in the city remained low so the return of workers was “fundamental” for small and big retail and hospitality.
“We know the hospitality sector has been going okay in the after hours, but to get that daytime traffic back up will create a buzz the city has been lacking,” he said.
Major employers welcomed the announcement but many pointed out their return to office programs remained voluntary and their office capacity was well below the current 50 per cent cap.
Bunnings this week brought a third of its 1000-strong corporate team back into its office on a rotating basis.
Human resource director Jacqui Coombes said the arrangements would remain in place until the end of the month before being reviewed.
“We have a framework that supports our team to work flexibly and we expect many of our national support team to combine home work with office work long term,” she said.
Wagering giant Tabcorp houses about 800 workers in its Collins Street headquarters.
Chief people officer Michelle Williams said workers had begun to return to its Melbourne office this week but numbers remained “well short” of the newly mandated maximum capacity.
“Our aim from a national standpoint, while recognising the COVID pandemic continues to see rapid changes to regulations, is to have our people attending the workplace for at least two days per week by the end of February,” she said.
National Australia Bank, which began returning staff to its Melbourne headquarters last month, said it would continue to progress those plans.
“We welcome today’s announcement … and continue to encourage and accommodate as many colleagues as we can back to our Melbourne buildings, provided it is safe and in line with social distancing and capacity requirement,” chief operating officer Les Matheson said.
Absolute Health and Performance fitness centre head coach David Smith said it was great more working professionals were expected to return to the city.
“Even when the CBD was experiencing very low occupancy rates at the end of 2020, our loyal client base supported our business, enabling us to bounce back rather quickly to 70 per cent of pre-lockdown attendance,” he said.
“Absolute’s typical clientele work hard on all fronts and they were among the first to get back in the office.”