There were inspectors on the tram this morning. For those not in Melbourne, I should point out that this is a very rare event. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them on the trams, and about three times on the trains. The thing about the trams is, there are no conductors, only a driver who is locked in his little cabin and never gets out. This means you can get on and off the trams at will, with no ticket, and no one will care. On most trams, I think possibly 20% of people have a ticket. I have a ticket. You knew I would. I am a meek and obedient sheep, and also I hate having to be conscious of other people getting on the tram in case one happens to be an inspector. I prefer to zone out and stare into the middle distance at nothing. No doubt with a slack jaw and vacant expression. Ah, the joys of public transport.
Anyway, I caught a later tram than usual this morning and it was packed: standing room only and no room to breathe out. This mess all clears out at the Domain Interchange, where lots of schoolkids and people needing to connect to other trams get out. And the inspectors got on one stop after this. As I got off the tram a couple of stops later, the arguments were already starting – there had been no room to get to the ticket machine and get a ticket. Which was, in fact, true. And, in fact, they need about three more trams running that route at that time because it was so jammed with people I felt like part of an elaborate human Jenga game.
My considered opinion of the whole tram issue: if they want people to pay for the trams, they shouldn’t make it so easy not to. And stop running those shite TV ads. I know I hate most TV ads, but these ones say, in essence: “Pay for a ticket or be nice to the people who buy tickets, because they subsidise you”. OK, well I AM a person who buys a ticket. And it infuriates me that the tram company is quite happy to admit that they are running their business in this manner. But rather than enforcing the requirement that people pay, like any normal business, instead they run expensive TV ads which merely ASK people to pay, then complain that most people don’t pay, then raise ticket prices because most people don’t pay and they need more money from the people who do, thereby encouraging MORE people not to pay because ticket prices are exorbitantly high. I may only have sixth form Economics under my belt, but I know a flawed business model when I see one.
Oh, and also all the taxi drivers will be on strike this Friday. Just so you know. It is like a conspiracy to encourage car usage. I suspect a viral marketing campaign, courtesy of Honda.