09 April 2017


I wrote this letter to the Victorian Minister for Public Transport on 4 MARCH 2017 in desperation at the state of affairs for people like us - and others - to ensure the state government were aware of some of the problems facing the geriatric communities in this, and no doubt other, states in this country.

Mannie De Saxe
PO Box 1675
Preston South
Vic 3072

Public Transport Issues in Preston and surrounding areas

The myki contract, as I understand, has recently been renewed. We are two pensioners, one aged 94 and the other 90.

When we used public transport before myki, we were able to buy a daily ticket and use it everywhere in the metropolitan area of Melbourne for the whole day at no extra cost. Now with myki only, we pay per trip and therefore the cost per day is much higher. In addition, because we are now so old, we are not able to walk the distances we used to be able to, and therefore have to use public transport more often.

We live near some tram and bus routes and here and there in the area there are some shelters and benches, but for old people such as us, more often than not there are no benches and also no shelters.

Victoria is spending a great deal on improving infrastructure such as level crossing removals, new underground metro links and the odd line extensions, other that to the airport and Doncaster.

Nowhere is the any mention of expenditure to support the ageing population and make using public transport more accessible and more comfortable. We know that generally old people are invisible and nobody cares, but we still vote.

There is much more to be said but that is some of the problem for us on a daily basis.

Mannie De Saxe


The above letter is the Minister's response to my email.

The letter cannot be read as I have copied it so here is the transcript:

Ref: COR/17/82702

Mr Mannie De Saxe
PO Box 1675

Dear Mr De Saxe

Thank you for your email of 4 March 2017 about travel costs for senior citizens, and the comfort and accessibility of public transport in Victoria.

Victoria has generous public transport concession arrangements, with a range of benefits available. Victorian Seniors are entitled to a free myki card, a 50 per cent discount on full fare travel, free travel on Saturdays and Sundays in two consecutive zones, as well as concession fares on V/Line trains and coaches.

The Andrews Labor Government is committed to progressively implementing the requirements of the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport 2002 (the Transport Standards), which were formulated under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA).

The Transport Standards mandate specific requirements and measure compliance against milestones. As there are considerable challenges in meeting these targets for existing infrastructure, the legislative framework includes long timelines. Public Transport Victoria (PTV) expects that public transport infrastructure will be accessible by 2022, and rolling stock (trains and trams) by 2032.

I am pleased to advise that the Government has established the Public Transport Access Committee (PTAC) to provide independent advice on accessibility issues to the Government and PTV. Further information on PTAC is available online at http://www.ptv.vic.gov.au/getting-around/accessible-transport/public-transport-access-committee/.

Thank you for raising these matters with me. It is important for tyhe Government to receive such feedback as we continue to work hard to imrpove public transport in Victoria.

Yours sincerely,

(Signed) Hon Jacinta Allan MP
Member for Bendigo East
Minister for Public Transport

The timing of the cuts to tram services is awfully suspicious
Sydney Morning Herald 6 APRIL 2017

It was all self-congratulation in a government press release last week praising timetable changes that would "increase services and reduce crowding" on Melbourne's trams. Well, that was last week and a week is a long time in politics.

This week the story broke that tram services will be slashed on some of Melbourne's busiest routes. Fewer services and more crowding is the reality from the operator locked in secret negotiations with the government for a new contract to run Melbourne's trams.

 The 96 tram: among those suffering service cuts. Photo: Supplied
In a stroke of legal genius, the current contract of Yarra Trams gives it the exclusive right to negotiate with the government behind closed doors for a seven-year franchise agreement. It certainly makes the bidding process easier when you are not facing competition.

Secret negotiations are just the start of this clandestine operation. Yarra Trams received $2.2 million in "incentive payments" on top of the $2.2 billion the government has paid for the group to operate Melbourne's trams. How those incentive payments are calculated is shrouded in mystery, with three of the five contractually agreed criteria kept secret.
What we do know is that key performance data used in the incentive formula is largely self-reported by Yarra Trams. The Victorian Auditor General put it this way: "PTV relies solely on Yarra Trams to assure the ongoing integrity of the system and the data it produces. This means that PTV is publicly reporting performance results and determining bonus and penalty payments with only limited assurance about the reliability of the performance data that underpins these results."

That's right – the contractor is responsible for the quality of the information that determines what bonus it will get.

After I raised these issues in Parliament and called for an expert panel to investigate this model I received a letter from the Minister for Public Transport saying "it is not appropriate" to appoint an expert panel. I was assured, however, that "the government is requiring significantly stronger standards, particularly in the areas of performance".

As a statement, "better performance" sounds great. How that will be achieved could be at the heart of the announced service slashes.

A cynical mind would say Yarra Trams is setting a low bar with these timetable changes that could be miraculously revised to increase performance once the new contract is in place.

If that is the negotiation tactic, it means the public is being held hostage so Yarra Trams can get what it wants.

With services already stretched, prices increasing and passenger numbers continuing to grow the public is not getting value for money. That is exactly why we need an independent panel to investigate how we can return to high quality services that are affordable for government and the public.

Until then, the continued secrecy puts all the power in the hands of Yarra Trams.

Fiona Patten is the Leader of the Australian Sex Party and Member for the Northern Metropolitan Region in the Victorian Parliament.

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Preston, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm