PTUA greets new operators, but warns real reform needed

Tram train crossingThe Public Transport Users Association (PTUA) has extended a marvellous Melbourne greeting to new train operator Metro Trains and new tram operator Keolis / Downer, but reminded the government that it still needs to do more to coordinate services and fix infrastructure problems on trams and trains.

“We hope both the new operators will do their best to provide Melbourne with a reliable public transport service, but we also know that many of the problems the network has fall squarely on the shoulders of the government.”

Mr Bowen said that if there was to be any tangible improvement on trains and trams, the government had to commit to, and deliver:

  • centrally planned and managed services, with an independent passenger-focussed transport authority to ensure trains, trams and buses worked together as a cohesive network;
  • duplicating single track bottlenecks on the rail network, which cause delays;
  • upgrading signalling to allow trains to run more frequently and more reliably;
  • genuine traffic light priority for trams (and buses) to ensure they moved more quickly through street intersections; and
  • accelerating the sleeper replacement programme to reduce the incidents of track buckling during summer.

But Mr Bowen said there was scope for the new operators to lift performance.

“Cleanliness on the system, more staff, better maintenance to improve reliability, and better customer service and information are all essential, and are things that can and should be improved.”

Mr Bowen said the proposal for a new, and permanent, Melbourne-based name for the train network was logical, but shouldn’t distract from more pressing issues. “A Melbourne-based name makes sense, but passengers will be bitterly disappointed if the only change they see is yet another new set of logos on trains and trams.

“We don’t want to see the government turn Connex into its sacrificial lamb and then persist with the same lousy management arrangements. A new name must be backed up with genuine management reforms to deliver integrated planning and operations in the public interest.

“Like any big city, Melbourne needs a fast, frequent, safe, reliable public transport network. We hope that the government and the new operators will work harder to achieve it”, concluded Mr Bowen.