Up the poll

Once again there are no winners in the perpetual blame-shifting merry-go-round of Melbourne public transport. If either the government or Metro’s executives are genuinely surprised at the system’s continued failure, then things are even grimmer than we thought.

But that’s not the only worry, if truth really matters. Mr Brumby’s blaming of the operator of the day for the inherent failures of the chronically neglected state-owned hardware, is nothing if not entirely predictable. But with such systemic obfuscation, the last thing we need is the kind of media hyperbole which claims that 69% of Age readers “believed Connex had run the train system better.” (The Age, 11/3) As it is, the value of these unvalidated tabloid-style “polls” is doubtful, and certainly not this paper’s finest contribution to public discourse. But a negative answer to the question “is Metro running a better rail system than Connex?” (Poll, 9/3) does not yield the above conclusion.

Whether a failure of basic logic, or just plain sloppy, please spare us such “insight”. Just two certainties remain: The travelling public are being played for mugs again, and truth is the casualty.

More pedals

Public Transport Minister Lynne Kosky should think big when it comes to bikes. Everyone could be a winner here – commuters, the government, the health system, the environment .. maybe even Connex too. Don’t limit the public bike scheme to inner Melbourne. A bike station on every metropolitan train platform. Train late or cancelled? No worries; pedal power to the rescue. Swipe the Myki over the seat, and away you go. And if the train’s not running anyway, just use the tracks. Now how’s that for a saving on infrastructure? A bit bumpy, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. And you might lose a kilo or two from the vibrations. (And your nose won’t be buried in anyone’s armpit either). The level crossings could be challenge, but nothing a bit of coaching from the Beach Road hellriders won’t fix.
Yep, I reckon that’s it. A pedal-driven transport makeover.

Don’t bring us a shrubbery

In addressing “hazards such as poles and trees near roads” (The Age, 17/5), I hope that the state government’s transport initiative will address one ubiquitous and often-overlooked suburban hazard. Councils across Melbourne seem obsessed with the practice of decorating roundabouts with shrubs. The aesthetic appeal of this practice is undeniable, but the traffic safety implications are diabolical, especially at major intersections during peak periods. The landscape engineers exhibit impressive skill in selecting vegetation of just the right height to obscure car indicator lights. Spices up the daily grind no end, but not good for the ticker.

Transport terror

Please Mr Batchelor, don’t change anything about our public transport system. Especially not before the games. It’s Melbourne’s strongest line of defense in the war on terror.

Unpredicatble timetables, signal faults, train cancellations, trams stuck in traffic, buses that never come, failed connections, uncooperative ticket machines, trains too full to board, mechanical breakdowns, frustrating delays, feral inspectors. And the sheer impossibility of coordinated rendezvous or planned excursions.

The terrorist bombers won’t have a hope.