Resources for students
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 State government launched the Meeting Our Transport Challenges (MOTC) plan in 2006, followed by the Victorian Transport Plan in 2010. The PTUA believes these plans are inadequate, and that more needs 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.
- 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 Infrastructure: Public Transport
- Government: Meeting Our Transport Challenges — government plan for transport, launched in 2006
- Government: Public Transport Ombudsman — handles complaints about public transport
- Operators: Metlink Melbourne — official information on public transport routes, timetables and services
Myki ticketing system
The Myki smartcard ticketing will be introduced across Melbourne and most 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, and in July 2010 on Melbourne buses and trams. It is due to become the only ticketing system at the end of 2012.
The PTUA’s view: The system will cost about $850 million to install, plus another $500 million over ten years to run, and we believe this money would have been better spent in improving public transport services, including re-staffing stations and most trams, which unlike Myki, would help prevent fare evasion (which costs about $50 million per year).
However, much of the money has been spent, and the system is nearing completion. We are stuck with Myki now, 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: Department of Infrastructure: Ticketing
- Government: Fares and Ticketing Manual (Myki) — full details on how Myki will work.
Train crowding and reliability
Passenger numbers have risen 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, as 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 trains have been ordered, with the current patronage growth, this extra capacity will be immediately filled. The government and Metro need to 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 (eg crashes). Accidents such as the Kerang tragedy are extremely rare, and statistics show travel by public transport is much safer than travel by most other means, including 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 are unable to 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.