The Public Transport Users Association gets regular enquiries from students, including journalism students. Here is some information covering common topics. We have included links to media, government and operator information, but note that the PTUA may not agree with the content on those sites.
What is the PTUA?
The Public Transport Users Association represents passengers on all forms of public transport in Melbourne and around Victoria. We are a non-profit, voluntary organisation, with no political affiliations.
- More about the PTUA
- PTUA history — the organisation was formed in 1976, and was originally called the Train Traveller’s Association
Why we should improve public transport
Good quality public transport brings numerous benefits, including:
- it cuts traffic congestion and pollution, including greenhouse emissions, and the road toll
- it reduces the impact of high petrol prices, which are likely to keep climbing as oil production peaks
- it reduces the need for valuable land to be taken by roads
- it provides social equity by making opportunities to jobs, education and recreation reachable to everyone, including those who are unable to drive, or can’t afford to
- it leads to healthier lifestyles, helping cut obesity, as users stop driving everywhere
For these reasons, governments of all levels must commit to funding better public transport both in urban and regional areas.
The previous State government launched the Meeting Our Transport Challenges (MOTC) plan in 2006, followed by the Victorian Transport Plan in 2010. The PTUA believed those plans were inadequate, and that more needed to be done to ensure that more people have high quality public transport that is good enough to get people out of their cars, particularly in Melbourne’s middle and outer suburbs.
Tragically, the current State Coalition government, having been elected in 2010 with a strong public transport focus, and without promising any major road projects, has suddenly decided that it must build an east-west road tunnel in Melbourne. As experience with other motorway projects demonstrates, the tunnel will not do anything to solve the ever-growing problem of traffic congestion, and will have many adverse effects.
As well, the vast cost of this one project will mean that no money will be available for the sort of public transport projects which will we know will make it easier for people to move around Melbourne.
- PTUA: What is the PTUA / the importance of public transport
- PTUA: How transport money is spent in Melbourne: the balance between public transport and freeways
- PTUA and allies: Moving Australians Sustainably — report highlighting some of the ways that public transport can reduce congestion, oil imports, greenhouse emissions, and contribute to healthier lifestyles and improved workforce productivity, and calls on the Federal government to fund public transport.
- Government: Department of Transport — long-term planning of the public transport system
- Government: Public Transport Victoria — plans and manages public transport services, and provides official information on public transport routes and timetables
- Government: Public Transport Ombudsman — handles complaints about public transport
Myki ticketing system
The Myki smartcard ticket system has now been introduced across Melbourne and much of Victoria. Trials began in 2008, and it started running in mid-2010 on buses in some regional cities, in December 2009 on Melbourne trains, in July 2010 on Melbourne buses and trams, and in June & July 2013 on V/Line “Commuter” services. It will not be used on “long-distance” V/Line services or V/Line bus services.
The PTUA’s view: The system cost about $850 million to install, plus another $500 million over ten years to run, and we believe that money would have been much better spent in improving public transport services, including re-staffing stations and most trams. Unlike Myki, that would help prevent fare evasion, which costs about $50 million per year.
However, much of the money has been spent, and the system is now operating, although not as extensively as was originally planned. We are stuck with Myki, and the best that can be hoped for is that the system’s faults are fixed promptly and efficiently.
- PTUA: Transport myths: Smartcards
- PTUA: Transport myths: Staffing — explains how tram conductors and station staff would not be expensive
- PTUA: Ticketing FAQ
- PTUA: Myki Q+A
- Government: Myki web site
- Government: Fares and Ticketing Manual (Myki) — full details on how Myki will work.
Train crowding and reliability
Passenger numbers have risen considerably in the past few years, and it is clear that the operator and the government were unprepared for this. This growth should have been anticipated, because it was in line with the government’s 2002 goal of doubling patronage (from 9% of all trips to 20% of all trips) by 2020.
In particular, it was a mistake to scrap most of the Hitachi trains, which could have been upgraded and retained to relieve overcrowding.
While 38 more suburban trains are being delivered, current patronage growth will mean that this extra capacity will be quickly filled. The government and Metro must ensure that more trains come online every year, and that existing track capacity is better used, for instance by running more trains direct to Flinders Street, which is the busiest and most popular rail station.
- PTUA: Getting Melbourne’s Rail System on Track (PDF, 248Kb) — Highlights what can be done to fix Melbourne’s rail system.
- PTUA: Transport myths: Infrastructure — See the section “Capacity crisis? What capacity crisis?”
- Media: Herald Sun 16/8/2007: Rail system daily ordeal for 300,000
- Media: The Age 26/7/2007: Blowout in overcrowded trains
Safety on public transport
The issue of safety on public transport generally refers to personal safety, rather than problems from public transport accidents (e.g. crashes). Accidents such as the Kerang level crossing tragedy are extremely rare, and statistics show travel by public transport is far safer than travel by almost any other means, especially travel by car. On the Victorian rail system, the last fatality related to railway operation itself was a single death in 1976.
- PTUA: Transport Myths — covers a lot of different topics
- PTUA: PTUA policies
- PTUA: Download our 2009 book “Connecting To The Future” for extensive details on what can be done to upgrade public transport in Melbourne and Victoria.
Student interviews with the PTUA
The PTUA is staffed entirely by volunteers. We are sorry, but due to a lack of resources we cannot accommodate queries from students, with the exception of written questions from those studying tertiary-level journalism. All responses will be via email.
Please note that we cannot handle any interviews by phone or in person.
You are welcome to use any of the material on our web site in your assignment. Please use the search box in the top-left to find the topic you are interested in, and take a look particularly at the following pages:
Please note that some older archival material on the web site may no longer be relevant.
Tertiary-level journalism students only may email students (at) ptua.org.au with written questions. While we will attempt to answer enquiries in a timely manner, you should allow up to a week for a response.
Please note that requests to contact particular PTUA officers cannot normally be accommodated, and you should bear that in mind when formulating your questions.