Sydney Trains exceeds performance targets

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With the recent delays last week due to the wild weather, the performance by our Sydney Trains system is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. The weather can’t be helped, but it doesn’t stop people from complaining about it.

So it may surprise commuters to know that Sydney Trains had actually exceeded and gone beyond their performance targets for the month of August 2014.

August’s punctuality target was set at 92%, but was exceeded by 2.7%, 0.5% higher than this time last year. This is a wonderful start considering Sydney Trains is only in its second year of operation.

Acting Chief Executive, Tony Eid said: “Customers across Sydney are benefitting from our improving performance, with trains on eight lines meeting our targets. Peak punctuality is a tougher measure than the measures used in the past. For example, if a train misses a stop to make up lost time it won’t be recorded as running on time.”

You may be wondering which line performed the best overall. I’m happy to say that commuters on the T3 Bankstown line received the least delays, with the T1 Northern via Macquarie Park and T2 Inner West line coming in second place.

Sydney Trains does not hide from its faults either, and acknowledges the incidents that has caused major delays for their customers. This open and transparent information system shows that they have nothing to hide from their customers, and only want to improve their services.

Incidents affecting the performance of peak services in August included:
4 August – a mechanical issue at Town Hall delayed 24 services.
6 August – a power supply issue at Mt Druitt delayed 37 services.
7 August – a gas leak at Burwood delayed 50 services.
15 August – a mechanical problem and an operational issue at Cronulla
delayed 25 peak services.
18 August – a rail defect at Stanmore delayed 17 peak services and an
operational issue at Central delayed 12 peak services.
25 August – trespass in the rail corridor at Toongabbie delayed 15 peak
services.
27 August – a sick passenger on a train at Central delayed 15 peak services.

How to stay informed with Sydney Trains: Websites and apps you need to check out

Happy Sunday Sydneysiders! It was a brilliant Spring day, perfect for the beach, so it was no surprise that everyone was heading out on public transport to catch some rays.

What most people didn’t realise was that trackwork was on this weekend for the T1-T4 lines. While this scheduled trackwork was advertised all week, many people have taken to social media to complain about it all the same.

The weather is too perfect to share the negative tweets, so I will instead be sharing some helpful apps and websites to make sure everyone can stay up-to-date with their transport information.

Make sure you’re informed before you complain.

WEBSITES

Sydney Trains

This is the official website for trains in Sydney. Plan your trip with the easy trip planner function, search for timetables, get updates and check whether your line is running on time.

Transport NSW

This website works in a similar way to the Sydney Trains one. It allows you to plan you trip with the trip planner, but all four modes of public transport available.

@131500trains

This is the official Twitter account for Sydney Trains. It provides train service updates and news for the greater Sydney metropolitan area. For more specific real-time updates for your line, follow the Twitter accounts below.

APPS

These were all listed on the Transport NSW website. Click through for more information.

Arrivo Sydney

Real-time Bus departure and location information for Sydney Buses and Train location information for Sydney and NSW Trains. You can also see the location of nearby bus ticket sellers and tag trips to receive automatic alerts when you are near your stop. By Riverstone Labs

NextThere

NextThere keeps track of your location, and displays when the next buses and trains are due to depart from wherever you currently are. It tells you which services will get you to your destination most efficiently, and shows your public transport options on an easy-to-read map. By AppJourney Pty Ltd

TransitTimes+

TransitTimes+ provides you a trip planner, offline timetables, service alerts, and wheelchair accessibility information. You can download timetables for over 70 cities in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada. Includes real-time bus information for Newcastle Buses (STA) and Busways Blacktown services. By Quentin Zervaas

TripGo

TripGo shows your door-to-door transport options across greater Sydney and lets you instantly see how to get to your favourite places using the fastest, cheapest and most environmentally friendly way. By SkedGo.

Triptastic

Triptastic lets you see at a glance where you can go from your current location and the next available services to take you there. You can also explore interactive detailed maps for routes, stops and service frequencies. By AppJourney Pty Ltd

TripView

TripView displays Sydney train, bus, ferry timetable data on your phone. It features a summary view showing your next services, as well as a full timetable viewer. By Grofsoft

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So there you have it. Is there any other sydney trains websites/apps that you find you can’t live without? Do share them in the comments below!

Phones away for World Sight Day.

Sydney Trains brought in Quiet Carriages in 2012, a trial that designated the first and last carriages of certain six and eight-car trains to encourage peace and respect for other commuters. Commuters are asked to refrain from loud conversations, using their mobiles and listening to loud music.

I think there are many benefits to the quiet carriages, one of them being the respect of not using a mobile phone. Travel by train may be long and tedious, but there are so many different ways to pass the time.

Majority of commuters are hooked on their mobiles while travelling. Image source: Buzzfeed

It is unfortunate that what we all resort to is our phones. I am of course guilty of this as well, but I am now challenging myself to put away my phone and pick up a book instead. When I’m travelling with someone, I make an effort to hold up a conversation rather than pull out my phone. (Let’s be honest, we’ve all pulled out our phones to show our friends a photo or Facebook post when there’s been a lull in the conversation.)

A video that was uploaded to YouTube recently saw a man named Peter Sharp take to his local train in Perth to raise awareness about this.

The very important message he tried to get across was:

If we can start a party, what’s stopping you from starting a conversation?”

I found this video very thought provoking, especially for someone living in an age of rapid technological advancement. We have become so obsessed with our phones that we’re letting the art of the conversation slowly die out. We’re letting the mobile take over every little moment of our lives. Travelling on the train may be the only time of the day a commuter has away from the computer/work, but instead of spending that time resting the eyes, we choose to stare at a smaller screen.

This article shows that there has been an increase in poor eyesight among children due to the digital boom of the 21st century. Our eyes are constantly glued to a screen, and its become a complete norm in society. Digital eye strain is not healthy, and more people need to be aware of this because we only have one set of eyes during our lifetime.

So why not take up Peter’s challenge? Put away the phone and start a conversation. Or read a book, the newspaper. Draw. Take up a hobby like knitting. Even do some yoga (if the carriage is quite empty).

World Sight Day is on the 9th October 2014. Please remember this post next week and put away your phone when you travel. Your eyes will thank you later.

Misunderstandings of the new Opal terminology

A few commenters have pointed out that my previous post on the calculations for the Opal card system is wrong. I apologise for the miscalculation and yes, it is wrong. I based my research on the information provided by the official Opal and Transport NSW website. Unfortunately as it turns out, the information on there was confusing and hard to understand.

Paula from Sydney Expert has kindly explained the right way to calculate my trips and journeys for using the Opal card.

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So why the confusion?

Well like many other people, I was stumped by the use of the three terms: trips, journey, transfer. I just couldn’t comprehend the differences and how a trip turned into a journey if I were to transfer between a bus and train and back to a bus again.

After publishing my post, I met with the Opal kiosk workers at my station and asked them to explain in detail how the card system worked. Their explanation was confusing and gave me no further insight aside from the fact that it would still be cheaper for me to purchase a MyMulti2 as the concession Opals have yet to be released. I find it astounding that they have yet to roll out the concession Opals as I know dozens of students who would love to use the cards as well. Why are there child Opals when they receive free transport to and from school regardless … but there aren’t concession Opals for students that are paying for tickets on a daily/weekly basis?

I am by no means an expert on Opal, so I do apologise for the miscalculations. For a more comprehensive post on how the Opal system works including discounts, registration and explanation of terminology, please visit Paula’s post on Opal 101.

Call-to-action: Stop whinging, Sydney. It’s unbecoming.

Love You Trains Challenge

I started this campaign because I was just like every other Sydney Trains’ commuter. I really disliked our transport system, and having come home recently from Europe, the contrast between the two transport systems was overwhelming.

Every time there was a slight delay or trackwork, I complained about it on social media. This action has become so normal within society that I estimate a complaint will be scattered across your newsfeed once a week.

But why do we Sydney commuters complain so much about Sydney Trains? I’ve noticed the one correlation that exists amongst every negative post is this sense of community it illicites between the complainer and their friends. Because apparently, we all seem to ‘get’ where they’re coming from. We’ve all experienced the same delays, and the frustration that goes hand-in-hand with it.

But what do we get out of it besides a sense of entitlement?

It seems that every commuter expects our train system to be of world-class standard without having a full understanding of the facts. We are a first-world country after all, we must therefore deserve the best form of transportation. Anything besides the best is cause for complaint.

If commuters cared to look at the figures, then they will realise that most of the 2014-2015 transport budget will be invested into fixing the infrastructure of roads and building light rails for the Parramatta area. That leaves very little funding left for the train system unless the NSW government decides to sell more of the state’s electricity network.

We complain, but we don’t really know enough to warrant these complaints.

Ever since I launched this project to change the negative stigma that’s often attached to Sydney Trains, I’ve hoped to encourage other commuters to think about the positive experiences we’ve had during our commutes. There’s a reason Melbourne is considered the friendliest city in the world instead of Sydney … because we are a city of whingers.

Let’s change this! Let’s band together as a community and turn our negativity around. Yes, we’re living in a first-world city – and we should be grateful for it. Enough with the self-entitlement, Sydney!

The ‘Feeling Unwell’ Campaign: Don’t board if you’re unwell.

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The Feeling Unwell campaign. Photo: The Daily Telegraph.

Delays. They’re hated by every commuter and is often a source for complaint. But no transport system is perfect and it’s an occurrence that’s been experienced by every traveller. There are many reasons for a delayed train such as:

  • Commuters holding the door for friends to jump on
  • Flooding on the tracks
  • Derailment
  • Fatality
  • Red signal where the train ahead has yet to leave the station
  • Unexpected track maintenance

That is just a few of the reasons why your train may be delayed. But one of the major causes of delays that commuters don’t often think about are by fellow passengers that become unwell during their train journey.

Sick passengers are the leading cause for train delays, making up approximately 60% of the delay incidents during the early morning peak periods.

Tony Eid, Sydney Trains’ director of operations says: “On average each incident affects approximately 20 trains, or up to 20,000 customers.”

Sick passengers often report that they become unwell due to not having enough breakfast, motion-sickness and reading on the train. It can also be caused by over-crowded carriages and sometimes even claustrophobia.

Sydney Trains has introduced a campaign called ‘Feeling Unwell’, in hopes to educate commuters to seek help for sickness rather than remain on the train. The NSW Government introduced paramedics during peak times at major hub stations chosen for the number of incidents occurred due to unwell passengers.

Town Hall, Wynyard, Redfern, Parramatta, Lidcombe, Epping Strathfield, Sydenham, Hornsby, Chatswood, Glenfield, Blacktown, Bankstown and Wolli Creek stations.

The campaign is being rolled out across stations with posters asking commuters who are feeling unwell to seek help rather than remain on the train.

“[I]n almost all cases an unwell customer would be far more easily and quickly treated at a station, rather than on a train,” Mr Eid said.

“If you don’t feel well, don’t board the train.”

What do you think of a real-time train/parking capacity app?

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Design ideas for a parking capacity app

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was an app that found you a seat on the train? Well Sydney Trains chief, Howard Collins, was already thinking about developing an app that does just that before the roll-out of the Opal cards was even completed.

Similar to the parking lot indicators in selected shopping centres that show which sports were free according to weight that switched between the green and red light, Collins hopes to use a similar weight method to to show the amount of people travelling on each carriage.

The new Waratah trains have this function available, but the data collected is not shared with the general public.

The technology he wishes to develop will perform a similar function, but the difference is that the information will be passed on to passengers in real-time instead.

Mr Collins said: “This city needs mobility, [w]e have to stop the risk of this place grinding to a halt.”

But this idea doesn’t come easily. In order to create the app, developers must sort through ten years’ worth of train delay data in order to design the framework for predicting faults and alerting passengers in real-time.

Not only that, but Collins hinted that the app will have the ability to alert commuters of parking capacity at stations too.

What do you think of this idea? Would you use the app when it’s available?