Tags: public transport system

3 Nov 2008, Comments (4)

Mr Bucket goes to town

Author: Helen

And is interviewed by MX magazine.


Text: Even Ned Kelly had a slit in his helmet. But Mr Bucket, Melbourne’s man of mystery, needs no such thing. Who is this rebel with a bucket? To find out visit www.mrbucket.com.au.

Disclaimer: MX magazine is a lowbrow, braindead waste of trees. It’s an environmental disaster and one of the worst ideas ever. However, if someone’s cottage industry was going to get exposure to half the eyeballs on the public transport system, it might as well be SO’s. And if MX disappeared tomorrow, I’d be dancing in the streets.

But the photo was kind of cool.

The Bucket man was also being followed around by some Swinburne film students. The Youtube clip will be out soon.

13 Sep 2007, Comments Off on This is a local post for local people. There’s nothing for you here!

This is a local post for local people. There’s nothing for you here!

Author: Helen

Image from www.thejim.iofm.net/strangers.html

Bouncing off Barista’s post about the by-election in his electorate, Melbourne Ports: we have one next weekend too, in Williamstown. We’re the electorate which used to belong to Bracksy before his resignation.

Williamstown is a safe Labor seat, a very safe seat, and there’s no Liberal candidate standing. (This isn’t the seat young Hamish got the boot from – this is State, he was feral. Sorry, Federal.) The Labor candidate is Wade Noonan of the Transport Workers Union, who has been parachuted in by Labor. This is a slap in the face to the people who live in the electorate – they have been trying to get trucks (monster B-doubles, container trucks and tankers) to keep out of the residential areas for years now.

I was never going to vote Labor anyway. They’ve been shitting me mightily lately; Tim Pallas’ arrogant refusal to even consider converting St Kilda road to allow for more bicycle lanes; Lynne Kosky’s handling of the decaying public transport infrastructure, and the government’s intention not to take back the public transport system, but instead stay with the discredited Connex corporation; the murky relationship between Labor, the CFMEU and the loggers and woodchippers; the continual privileging of roads and freeways over public transport, and Brumby, as the Murdochistas excitingly put it, crushing the proposed car-free day in the Melbourne CBD. They’re Liberal Lite, just like their federal counterparts. Oh, yes – did I mention their dirt campaign against the Green candidates?

We’ve received four. bloody. letters. each from Labor at our house – one each, so that’s eight – supposedly from the premier John Brumby, but authorisedintinylittlelettersatthebottom from S. Newnham of 360 King st. West Melbourne. Four each! Talk about overkill. (Who’s paying for it?). Barista has also received a letter from these tree-killers purporting to be from Sue Loukomitis, claiming that the Greens want to “close down” MacRobertson High school, a selective secondary school nearby. Strangely enough, that’s also authorisedintinylittlelettersatthebottom by S. Newnham, also of 360 King St. West Melbourne.

A few weeks ago I came across a grubby little website. It’s an astroturf site which is made to look like some kind of grass roots radical’s homemade effort, but which in fact is the work of – you guessed it – authorisedintinylittlelettersatthebottom by S. Newnham, of 360 King st. (If you’re incensed by this nasty little piece of work, don’t bother clicking on Comments – it’s a shell of a “blog”. Comments are disabled. Of course.) Greens-Liberal-deal.com.au (hmm, that’ll catch on with the yoof all right) is linked to some local batshit crazies via this site.

Barista sez:

[Newnham] is the State Secretary of the Australian Labor Party, an organisation that seems temporarily to have lost both its name and logo.

That nice Greg Combet, now standing for federal parliament after being an ACTU hero, sent me a letter today as well, endorsing the local ALP candidate. The slightly eccentric layout of that letter is identical to this one. It was also authorised by Mr Newnham, who still can’t find a logo. The Combet letter is folksy and nice, with his photo on it, and its clear what he wants and where he comes from. It contains this sentence:

“The commitment to decency and justice is what defines a good society.”

Well put, comrade. Do you think you could maybe find these sleazebags who sent me that smeary letter and tell them to fuck off where they came from, so I can vote for the ALP now and in the federal election without feeling sick?

‘Fraid I can’t.

There’s more about the dirt campaign here.

11 Dec 2006, Comments Off on Ad Nauseam: All Connex ads

Ad Nauseam: All Connex ads

Author: Helen

Ads which actually put you off buying the product

This post has been delayed and delayed while I searched the web fruitlessly for images from the last few Connex advertising campaigns. Wouldn’t you know, they’re not to be found. Presumably the expensive advertising company knows having these available anywhere would only encourage blog snark. Well, too bad. Here’s an excerpt from the latest campaign, Don’t Hold Others Back. And here is a picture of the grim reality. (This is actually quite good, compared to some of the peak hour trains I’ve taken.)

Image from the old Public Transport Users Assocn site

When Melbourne’s public transport system was privatised, what did the new owners do to make it more efficient, lean and mean than the old Government service? Besides sacking most of the station staff, that is? Why, they went out and found the slickest, most smartarse advertising company they could. (With a partner who was also the Connex Melbourne chairman). Ah, that’s private efficiency for you. Jobs for the private mates, none of your Government or Union mates. Totally different.

The Sheena Easton “My baby takes the Morning Train” ad was simply tasteless and irritating in the way most ads are, but other Connex ads infuriate all the more because they highlight the very gaps in service on which they should be spending money, instead of on all this spin. There’s one series with gorgeous young things reclining in bed, etcetera, with “we know where you’d rather wait”. For non-melburnians, this means that Connex provides a SMS service so that if your train’s cancelled, you can theoretically spend another ten minutes in bed instead of on the platform in the cold wind with someone who’s forgotten their medication.

This, of course, assumes (wrongly) that Connex can provide SMSs in an accurate and timely fashion- rather like, you know, trains. It also highlights the fact that they cancel trains all the time. What about fixing the actual transport system instead of giving SMS addicts another excuse to obsess over their phones?

Then there’s the series of poster ads, in 70s bulbous typescript, aimed at fare evaders. You know the ones: “Fare evaders! Please thank the person next to you! He has paid for your journey. Maybe you should offer to mow his lawn!…Maybe you should cook them a nice meal!” …

To which the only response when one is straphanging, sardined, bloodshot eyed and ripe for murder on the 8:12: “Get f***ed!” or “Please thank us for putting up with your bloody system. Maybe you should provide a system worth paying for!” (Unfortunately, I’m a wimp, and pay for my ticket.)

But the crowning glory appeared earlier this year, an advertising campaign so expensive, so high in production values, so out there and full of creative juice that noone on the balcony could understand it at all. Even Girlchild and Boychild, usually so good at explaining the modern world to us, could only shake their heads pensively. It was vaguely apparent that it was about Connex, but apart from that the message was far from clear.

Wretched souls, washed in a blue-grey arthouse ambience and dreadfully expensive lighting, struggled through streets and over pavements, literally carrying others, to hysterically tragic music, like some modern day Victor Hugo ripoff. I was bemused. The role of advertising is to portray the product or service in a flattering light, but this seemed like a realistic portrayal of the hellish journey through Footscray “premium” (hah!) station to the fourth circle of Hell City Loop, complete with the wails of the damned. In my abortive attempt to find a jay-peg for this post I came across this description of the soundtrack: “The music for the advertisement, an evocative Stalinist mood-piece entitled No(t) Home, was written especially for the video by Russian born, Tasmanian based singer Zulya Kamalova, a leading proponent of Tatar music in Australia.”

Imagine the fulminations from Bolt and co. if a public company had come out with an ad containing a Stalinist mood-piece. Oh, the irony.

The ads were linked to a website, which probably cost Connex another bucket of our money, but it was impossible to load it until the other day – one of those dratted Flash sites which just kind of sit there and never load. Nevertheless, we eventuallly worked it out: the Don’t Hold Others Back campaign is to inform us that we, the passengers, are the cause of all the trouble. Yes, forget about the cancellation of the 5.11 and the Faulty Train at Flinders Street which the crackling PA is ranting about. It’s YOU, you wretch, you’re thirty seconds late and you’ll make the train wait for you! Which makes us all suffer!

Except, of course that most of it’s bollocks because trains don’t wait, do they? If you’re slow, you just have to catch the next one. If it comes, of course. The primary offender in holding us all back is Connex itself, and this kind of conspicuous consumption just rubs our noses in it.

If Connex could just shut up with the advertising and spin for a year or two and spend the money on improving the system instead, we’d all cheer.

2 Oct 2006, Comments Off on Bracksed


Author: Helen

Bracks is the name of our Premier here at the bottom of Australia. And a lot of us are very, very pissed off with him. At least, the ones who might in the past have been assumed to vote Labor. A lot of the Liberal voters probably love him because it seems he’s never seen a conservative policy he doesn’t like. Why he doesn’t just go over to the other side is beyond me. The other day, listening to a friend (ex-rusted-on Labor voter like me) nearly lose it over Bracksy and his failings on schools / trains / everything, I sensed that perhaps we had come to a tipping point. There’s a State election on in November.

Sure enough, I saw bracksed.com reported in the AGE, so I went and had a look thinking it might be interesting.

Melbourne people will get the reference to Jeffed.com, Stephen Mayne’s popular website which (although not single handedly) helped to bring down the former Kennett government. That’s no accident – it’s a new Stephen Mayne venture.

There’s a stink of failure about this one. And of other things.


For one thing, the first five links, from the top of the page, appear to be about or by that headcase Andrew Landeryou. Five links! Andrew Landeryou!! How incredibly sad. (“Delia Delegate”, according to Mayne, and Andy Landy are one and the same. What a jolly jape, eh!)

A quick google reveals that Mayne and Landeryou are now at each other’s throats. Why is someone who Steve Mayne presumably detests featured so heavily on the bracksed.com homepage? And we should care because….? I’m interested in their response to Labor and our disastrous public schools, egregious public transport system, halfassed environmental policies and things like that. Not overgrown boys and their backroom rivalries. While you publish this shite, and we have the driest September on record, the State government is logging out catchment areas. Grow up the pair of ya.

But then, I make a mistake assuming bracksed.com is to the left of the Bracks government. While Jeffed.com wasn’t political party specific (someone correct me if I’m getting hazy on my history here.) Bracksed.com’s home page states: “Bracksed.com is published by Stephen Mayne, one of the co-founders of People Power, a political start-up run entirely by volunteers which is contesting all upper house regions and most lower house seats in the 2006 Victorian election…”

Bah. I am incredibly suspicious of People Power. Vern Hughes, the PP candidate for my area (and co-founder and policy writer for the party), is one of those fun guys from the IPA. PPPs, vouchers, “choice”… More of the same neoliberal guff, that is.

A cursory glance at PP’s policies and mission statement confirms my suspicion that it’s a bunch of populist nutbags, which will probably evolve into Urban One Nation Lite. Steven Mayne and Jeffed.com may have delivered us from under the Boot of Jeff, but he’s no help this time around.

16 Sep 2005, Comments (0)

The Great Unwashed Speak Out

Author: Helen

You’re a commuter who has driven your gas guzzler family sedan into work for as long as you can remember. And for as long as anyone can remember, the State government has been pandering to you and to motoring lobbies like the RACV, trying to ignore the reality that it just isn’t sustainable to do that forever. Every time motorists squeak, vast tracts of Australia are ripped up for freeways, tollways, overpasses and other massive bituminous monuments, which then quickly clog up again. Meanwhile, the public transport system and its users have been treated like shit and the system allowed to run down under a privatised arrangement. (Maybe these two things are related…?)

Anyhoo, one day you drive up to the petrol station and it looks like this:


This continues for a few weeks so you decide it’s no longer feasible to drive the g… sorry, family sedan, into work and you decide to jettison your dignity and mix it with the rest of us, in your own words, Great Unwashed.

Now I’d like to say that we’ve welcomed you with open arms, car driver (“Welcome to our world! Glad you came over to Our Side!”), but unfortunately not in my case. First, because the system has been run down and treated like shit, and there are just not enough peak hour trains. So where I might have had a fighting chance before of getting a seat on the 7:50 from Footscray, or at least something to hold on to, now I am stuffed in like one of those poor sheep on the live sheep transports to the middle East.

And you people, finding out for the first time just how run down and shitty the system is, not only do you bleat about it as if no one ever pointed it out to you before. No, you just couldn’t care less before. You just have to compound it by complaining about US – the longtime users of the ahem, “service” – the ones who weren’t competing with you for road space but doing the right thing all along, and now have to put up with YOU packing in by the hundreds… It’s so painful for you to have to mix it with us, the great unwashed carless hoi polloi.


Are you going to get onto the State government now to say, “OMG WTF! I never knew how bad the situation was with our public transport, or how much we need it. I demand you extend it exponentially and run it properly as a clean, safe, reliable service!?”

No! You’ll just complain about the GST on petrol and demand they remove it so you can get back into your car and blessed forgetfulness.

But… what if it’s not the GST that’s the problem? Excuse me, but is that a turd on your table?

OK listen up. I’ve got a brilliant idea to replace the whole Melbourne public transport system, which badly needs replacing, with a steam powered network. That’s a Twentieth century solution you cynics, cos we’ll use biomass energy. Yeah! Wood chipped from the city’s unnecessary parks to run the thing. Stop scoffing. Except for the water taxis down the Yarra (we’ll pour disinfectant in). They’ll be pulled by swans. Hundreds of swans. And a few cockatrices.

Think of the tourist dollars. Think of the untold profits to the CementMix corporation which is proposing to build the infrastructure.

Feasibility study???!!! Pah! There ain’t gonna be no steenking Feasibility study. No! it’s the right thing to do to make a decision. And the decision is to go ahead, so everyone working on this project now won’t be saying, will we do this, will we do that? They will be working to make this a reality.

People who talk about “feasibility studies” are just pansies.

Ha ha! Hahahahahahah!