Trams of Australia

News and current events

If there is anything that you would like to see here, please send me some e-mail. Special events at museums and preservation groups would be particularly welcome. Let me know!


Fare evasion soars in Melbourne - 12-Nov-1998

[Extract from "The Age" 12-11-98, reporter Ewin Hannan]
Fare evasion on trams has cost the State Government at least $8 million annually since the introduction of automated ticketing, the Auditor-General has found. In a report into the troubled ticketing system, the Auditor-General, Mr Ches Baragwanath, said 15 per cent of commuters whose last journey was on a tram said they had not purchased a ticket. He said that this finding equated to an annual revenue loss of at least $8 million, without taking into account other forms of fare evasion. [...]

[My own comments - DMH]
Remember how we were told that automated ticketing would eliminate fare evasion? Here us yet more evidence that it has multiplied the problem. I suspect that this is a very conservative estimate. A followup report in "The Age" on 13-11-98 suggests that fare evasion throughout the PTC could be as high as 40%, but that the PTC has grossly under-resourced its policing. Certainly, my ticket does not get inspected very often.

Melbourne W class back on the rails - November 1998

The Melbourne W class trams are re-appearing. They seem to be in fairly regular service on route 8, and some route 16 and 12, as at the start of this month. For a while, two crew were at the fromt of each tram (no, not a conductor, unfortunately) but this is dropping off. Service times are slower without a conductor, mainly because the doors, which open and close very slowly, are now interlocked to the tram's movement. What a pain. I expect that all 53 W class trams will eventually return to service. It is not clear to the public what has changed to resolve the dispute (see earlier report, below).

Melbourne W class off the rails - July 1998

An industrial dispute has had all of Melbourne's W-class trams (except those operating the free City Circle service) out of service for about a month now, and they will remain so for an indefinite period. The dispute is over drivers claiming that the new Metcard ticketing machines obscure their visibility of the doors, making the trams unsafe to operate without conductors. (See also: More MetCard fiasco).

The Government/PTC refuse to keep conductors on, so the trams have been removed. Services have had to be cut as a result. Press reports indicate that the union has loaded in a few other things into the dispute, such as crash testing the trams (why now, after 60 years?). Since the current union leadership have a famous track record for cutting off their own noses to spite their faces, I am not expecting the dispute to be resolved quickly. I hope I am wrong.

BrizTram is dead - Late July 1998

The Brisbane Tram proposal, which was an election stunt by the previous National/Liberal Party coalition government under Rob Borbidge, has been killed off by the incoming Labor Government lead by Peter Beattie. For those of us who thought it was never going to happen anyway, whichever party won, this is no surprise.

Hobart Tram to Return? - 6-Apr-1998

The following advertisement appeared in the "Tenders" classified ad. section of "The Australian", on Saturday 4-Apr-1998.

Sullivans Cove Tramway - Expressions of Interest
The Hobart City Council has investigated the feasibility of re-establishing an electric double-decker tram service in the City of Hobart.

The track system is to be based on the historic narrow gauge (3'6"). The route for the Sulllivans Cove Tramway is intended to focus on Sullivans Cove with potential links to North Hobart and the existing rail network.

A comprehensive technical feasibility study has been completed and will be made available. Hobart City Council is now seeking expressions of interest from parties interested in financing and developing this project.

Please contact Alderman Darlene Haigh on (03) 6234 3914 or Mr Leyon Parker of Transportation Services on (03) 6238 2834 for further details.

V. B. Armstrong
General Manager
Hobart City Council
16 Elizabeth St, Hobart.

Melbourne Ticketing System fiasco - 6-Apr-1998

It looks like the privatisation of the Melbourne Tram and Train system will be delayed (it was due to happen by the end of 1998), because the brains behind the breakup have discovered that the new automated ticketing system (Metcard) was not designed to calculate revenue shares between independent operators. Attempting to use it to work out passenger distribution between the new operating entities is giving grossly misleading results.

There are two problems. One is that the system requires passengers to "validate" their tickets on every tram they board, but the passengers don't do it. This is because there is no reason, from the passenger's point of view, to do so. Once the ticket has been first validated, nothing further is printed on it at any subsequent validation. If a ticket inspector would not be able to tell a "re-validated" ticket from one which had been validated only on a previous trip, why should the passenger bother? Re-validation is only for the convenience (and data gathering) of the PTC, but they offer no incentive (or credible threat) to passengers to obey.

The second is that when a passenger boards a train at a city station, validating a ticket in the station barriers gives the system no clue as to which of the two (fictionally competing) train operators is about to be used.

Consultants paid lots at taxpayers expense will no doubt be brought in to look at the mess. Perhaps we will go back to manual passenger surveys.

P.S. 1-Aug-1998 - I have just been approached (as a train passenger) by one of these consultants, doing just such a survey. Well done chaps!

Other problems with the Metcard ticket system
The third major problem with the system is that it has had the exact opposite effect on fare evasion to that officially predicted. Evasion has soared, to the extent that on the number 75 tram line, revenues are said to have dropped up to 80%.

While we are here we shouldn't forget the other great stuff-up. The PTC's mononeuronal administrators decided that the single most popular ticket bought on trams should be made unavailable from the on-tram ticket machines. Passengers cannot buy their day tickets on the tram or at the tram stop, but have to make a detour to a shop somewhere to get them. So passengers use the trams less, or evade the fares more.

And it wasn't even a mistake! They did it deliberately! When the previous ticket fiasco happened in Melbourne - the scratch ticket debacle that administered a mortal wound to the Cain government - they removed day tickets from trams. The protests from the public were enormous, and the decision was reversed. Apparently, only temporarily. Don't they ever learn?

There is now a blitz of advertising to convince people that the new system is easy to use, and that it is "convenient" to go off to a "conveniently located" shop to buy tickets before you board a tram. The very existence of the campaign is a pretty good sign that none of these things are true.

Melbourne Tram System Privatisation

Part of article from "The Age" Friday 10-Oct-1997:
Train and Tram Networks Carved Up, Ready for Sale
By Stephen Cauchi [my additions or deletions in square brackets - DMH]
Melbourne's public transport took another step towards privatisation yesterday as the suburban train and tram networks split into four separate businesses. The Transport Minister, Mr Robin Cooper, said the new businesses - Bayside Trains, Hillside Trains, Swanston Trams and Yarra Trams - would become independent over the next three months.

Bayside Trains will encompass suburban lines running through South Yarra and North Melbourne [stations], while the lines running through Clifton Hill and Burnley [stations] will be run by Hillside Trains.

Yarra Trams will operate all north-east and south-west tram lines [the Flinders, Collins, Bourke and Latrobe Street routes], while Swanston Trams will include north-west and south-east tram lines [William, Elizabeth and Swanston Street routes].

"Timetables and multi-modal tickets will not be changed because of the restructure [...]" said Mr Cooper.

[...] Victorian public transport is scheduled to be privatised by December 1998.

Government prop^H^Hess releases

For these, go to the press releases site and select "By Minister - Transport". I don't have a link to that spot directly, because it seems to be some kind of automatically generated address, which is subject to change.

Current Events

Sydney Tramway Museum - Heritage Week 1998

The following was posted to aus.rail by (Peter Neve) on Mon, 13 Apr 1998.

The Sydney Tramway Museum at Loftus will be helping to celebrate 1998 HERITAGE WEEK with the following special events on Saturday 2nd May and Sunday 3rd May:

On Saturday 2nd May - the SUTHERLAND HERITAGE TRAM FESTIVAL. For only $15.00 family, $8.00 adults and $5.00 child/concession, you can enjoy -

Profits go towards the cost of extending the tramway from the current North Terminus into Sutherland township proper.

On this day only, there will be a half hour tram service on the National Park line. As part of celebrations marking the 119th birthday of the Royal National Park and by prior booking with the Royal National Park office on 9542 0649, you may catch the 1045am service from Loftus to the Park and partake of a guided walking tour along the Bridle Track and other areas of the Park.

On Sunday 3rd May, a VINTAGE BUS SERVICE will operate between the Sydney Tramway Museum, Woronora Cemetery, Sutherland School of Arts (historical dispay), Sydney Woodturners Guild at Oyster Bay OR Hazelhurst Cottage at Gymea (alternate trips) and the Sutherland Entertainment Centre (heritage Week display). Buses supplied by Sydney Tramway Museum and the Bus & Truck Museum, Tempe.

The SYDNEY TRAWAY MUSEUM is located adjacent to LOFTUS railway station and may be simply reached by public transport by catching a Waterfall local service from Central Station. If driving, take the Old Princes Highway through Sutherland Township and not the bypass! Further inquiries, by phone from: 9542 3646 or Fax 9545 3390.

Trams in Hiding - Hawthorn Tram Depot Open Days

The PTC historic tram fleet, stored at the old Hawthorn Tram Depot will be open to the public on the weekend of 28-Mar-1998 and 29-Mar-1998, from 10 AM to 5 PM. A short ride on a historic tram is part of the event.
I went on Sunday, and I enjoyed it a lot. The depot is a great building, which is hungry for some TLC. Something could really be made of this place.