Thursday, May 10, 2012

If QR is inept, what is TransLink?

An amusing news story was covered in this Courier Mail article yesterday. Ex Liberal MP, now transplanted as DG of Transport and Main Roads Michael Caltabiano has been reported as telling guests as a private boardroom lunch that Queensland Rail (QR) was "badly run, badly structured, and inept". He is also quoted as saying QR that TransLink would have a much broader role in running transport statewide.

As any reader to BrizCommuter's blog would know, QR is far from perfect. As with any government company, it will be quite bloated with staff. One of the most obvious bloats that could be preventing the network wide rollout of higher service frequencies is the use of guards, a practice that has been abandoned on many suburban rail systems including Melbourne and Perth. BrizCommuter is still seething from the incompetence that was the March 2008 timetable rollout, when many commuters faced a worse timetable with only a few days notice. The latest example of ineptness from QR is this Quiet Carriage signage inconsistency (old and new quiet carriage signs in same carriage - doh!). However, BrizCommuter is far more concerned about the incompetence and ineptness from TransLink. As TransLink is the QLD governments public transport lap dog/spin merchant, TransLink having even more control is somewhat concerning.

Here is a incomplete list of TransLink's incompetence in the last few years:

  • Huge fare rises that have scared passengers back to their cars, and failed to decrease taxpayer subsidy.
  • Lack of daily and weekly tickets, the former scaring off tourists.
  • Unreliable go card system - failed readers, buses with incorrect locations, etc.
  • Delay in introducing online go card refunds. 
  • Unclear go card terms of usage.
  • Bizarre bus network - many different routes with minor variations, no trunk and feeder network, few and poor standard of rail feeder services.
  • Different bus routes heading in the same direction start at different CBD bus stops.
  • No signage to tell passengers which bus route goes from which CBD bus stop. 
  • Overcrowded and full buses, especially on university routes - and not much being done about it.
  • Not running the route 66 to RBWH for 7 months after the busway opened - overcrowding resulted in up to 55 minute waits to board a bus at RCH Herston!
  • Australia's worst bus timetable maps. 
  • The 393 bus route. 
  • Incorrect busway passenger information displays - Boggo Road's displays show some buses heading away from UQ Lakes as travelling to UQ Lakes. 
  • Secrecy of information - not publishing QR passenger load survey when patronage dropped, no information on full buses in TransLink Tracker. 
  • Telling commuters phase 2 train timetables would be introduced in late 2011 - it's now mid-2012 with no sign of them.
  • Reluctance to fix Sunshine Coast Line overcrowding after phase 1 timetables - QR forced the changes.
  • Failing to inform commuters of some minor timetables changes in April 2012 - at day of introduction no timetables on website, no mention of a service change on website, no update of journey planner with service changes. 
  • Worse train frequencies of any mainland Australian state capital - this is mainly TransLink and the government's fault, not QR
  • Terrible customer service - stock standard replies, ignore many comment forms, etc.
  • Incorrect information on website often experienced at times of train service problems.
If TransLink are to have more control over SE Queensland's public transport, then they also need to have a long hard look at themselves. 

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