Connex: Crap all over…

On 18-Apr-2004 Connex have been granted control of all trains and trams in Melbourne. Since then, almost every train and tram I have been on has been late, usually by more than 5 minutes, sometimes only 3.

“So what?”, you say, it’s only 3-5 minutes!

Well, I have two problems with it; One philosophical, one practical.

Philosophically, just because they claim to be meeting the minimum standard required of them by the government doesn’t mean they are actually doing a good job. There is always room for improvement, particularly when the two most common causes cited are “Shortage of qualified running staff” and “Defective Trains”.
Naturally, I have my own interpretations of these causes: “Staff” equates to “The driver has nicked off for his union mandated break and it’s too much trouble for us to arrange for standby drivers, so you can all just wait around at our leisure.” “Defective” equates to “We are running all the old broken trains during peak hour because we don’t want to cause un-necessary wear-and-tear on our shiny new trains” (Or perhaps “It costs too much to fix the trains properly, so we just use duct tape and it fell off.”)

My main issue though is connection to other services i.e. Buses. When the train is running 3 minutes late, and the bus only waits 2 minutes, that turns into a 30 minute wait for me. Sure the busses could wait longer I guess, but they have their own timetables to keep – specifically, they need to arrive back at the station in time to get people onto their outgoing trains!
I can’t understand why the trains have so much trouble with punctuality – it’s not like cars, pedestrians, etc can get in the way! Buses and trams at least have that as an excuse…

And I won’t even get started on what I think of their “incident/accident/disaster” handling procedures. I’ll just summarise: “Too Little, Too Late.”

Here endeth the rant.

UPDATE: I’ve just found this on their site…

Connex has a Service Compensation Code where passengers with periodical tickets of four weeks or more valid on the first day of that period will be able to claim a free daily ticket for the zones specified on their ticket if monthly performance falls below these thresholds:
* If less than 92 per cent of trains run within 5 minutes of their published time schedule or
* If less than 95 per cent of scheduled trains actually run.

Connex posts these results each month to advise passengers of their eligibility to claim a refund.

Oh whoopee, I could get an ~$8 ticket once a month – if 92% of ALL trains are late. My monthly ticket costs ~$145/month, so their compensation is less than 6% for a greater than 8% fault…

Too bad for me if only the peak hour trains are late and all the early morning, midday, and late night trains are perfectly on time. Rough estimates from my train line: 4 morning and 4 evening services that would fall into the “peak hour” category for me; 120 services total; So, every peak train could be late and still leave them loads of room before anyone is even eligible for their lousy “compensation”.