Passenger information lost in Hop re-brand

Posted: December 19, 2013 in Transport
Tags: ,

Public transport in Sydney is going through a complete re-vamp, with “The Hop” becoming the universal brand for public transport. This is an essential part of creating a system that is seen as a complete and unified public transport network, rather than one which is just a collection of networks (rail, ferry, various bus operators, etc) cobbled together. It also presents an opportunity to create information for the passenger (or “customers” as the government now insists on calling them) that is prepared in a way that is most logical and useful from their perspective.

This food court is connected to the train station via an underground walkway, though it still takes 1-2 minutes to reach the platform on foot. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

This food court is connected to the train station via an underground walkway, though it still takes 1-2 minutes to reach the platform on foot. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

The introduction of real time data for transport apps (first for buses, then later for trains) is a definite improvement. Providing passenger information displays (PIDs) on the Sydney Trains network in locations other than on the platforms or next to the ticket gates is another good move. Two examples of the latter include the PIDs that were put into the Westfield food court adjoining Parramatta train station many years ago (see image above), allowing passengers to see when the next train arrives before beginning a walk to the platform which could take a number of minutes; while a more recent installation of PIDs near the street entrance of the shopping arcade that leads into Wynyard Station (see image below) tell passengers when the next train to a particular station arrives and to which platform, removing the need for them to check all upcoming trains to work out which one will get them to their destination first.

Wynyard Station itself is located within a shopping arcade, so the distance from the entrance at the street to the station proper involves a not insignificant walk. That makes this passenger information display at the arcade's entrance a valuable addition for passengers. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Wynyard Station itself is located within a shopping arcade, so the distance from the entrance at the street to the station proper involves a not insignificant walk. That makes this passenger information display at the arcade’s entrance a valuable addition for passengers. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

This final example is actually a step back in time to the 1990s, when PIDs were often organised in this way. At major stations, passengers could look up their station from an alphabetically ordered list to see which train would get them to that destination fastest. This is important, as the quickest journey may not simply be the next train to arrive, such as if a subsequent train is an express that overtakes the earlier train.

Today this system of communicating information is all but gone. Even the example above from Wynyard isn’t as straightforward and logical as first appears. Rather than ordering stations in an easy to look up manner, it orders them in chronological order of soon to arrive trains. It also only lists major stations.

Someone taking a train on the Western Line or T1 must now look at 3 different screens to work out which train to catch. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Someone taking a train on the Western Line or T1 must now look at 3 different screens to work out which train to catch. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

On top of this, the process of looking up train services by line has been complicated by the re-naming of lines to numbers (T1, T2, T3, etc).  Someone who wants to reach Westmead from Central, for example, should take a train on the Western Line (T1). But there are 3 different PIDs for T1 (see image above), and each of them lists all the line names (Western/Northern/North Shore), rather than the more logical choice of labelling them T1 – North Shore/Northern (left), T1 – Western (middle), T1 – Northern (right). This would allow the passenger to focus on the middle PID to find when the next train to Westmead is and which station they need to go to. Given that this very information is available a short walk from where these PIDs are (see image below), giving this information in that format should not be a difficult thing to achieve.

Some station information does split out the new amalgamated train lines into their component parts, to allow passengers to work out which platform their train departs from. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Some station information does split out the new amalgamated train lines into their component parts, to allow passengers to work out which platform their train departs from. Click to enlarge. (Source: Author.)

Even better, Transport for NSW could return to providing information to passengers by first asking them where they want to go, then telling them the best way of getting there. This would be a big improvement of the current system where the passenger must also work out how to reach their destination, then look at the relevant PID and wait for all the stations to scroll along before determining when and where to go for their next train.

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Comments
  1. thomas sydney says:

    They could have done much better in one step,.

    As we now see the budget deficit from 6 years for federal labor abuse , we wont have the money for a generation to do super infrastructure things

    They will say lets do it private, which most labor or liberal ll hate as we have seen how it cost USA lot and also strips our states on revenue a double wammy.

    The crap in the public service has to go and a lot of that laziness is thanks to the too strong public sector unions

    Frankly as a taxpayer, exporting SME’s I am tired of being screwed over by govt at all levels.

    This country might have great climate and beaches, but we are so mediocre.

    History will judge us as the country give everything who did poorly with its gifts.

    I don’t mind tollways if they are owned by the state

  2. MrV says:

    Thomas,

    You are absolutely right, and the frustrating thing is you see the worst examples daily on Sydney public transport.

    Take for example the people that ‘flag’ trains. Most countries did away with this in the 1880’s, and yet here we are employing so many people to do so little. Hell I’m surprised they don’t require a horse to ride in advance of the train waving a red flag like in the bygone days.

    Surely this labour resource can be better utilised on other parts of the network, whether it be removing graffiti, cleaning trains, selling tickets, providing info to customers.
    Little wonder Sydney Trains spends $4 for every $1 you pay to go anywhere.

  3. Deus_vult says:

    MrV, people who flag trains don’t just flag trains. They tend to clean platforms and sell tickets and provide information to customers (as well as emergency cleaning of spills on trains.) It’s just during peaks and when platforms are crowded that they continually flag trains. Other times they just flag trains when the train arrives–and only then if the platform cannot be seen the entire length by the guard.

    Furthermore, getting rid of flag men (and repeaters) could be accomplished if
    1) They built straight platforms in the first place
    2) All trains were Waratahs–as they have external video cameras allowing the guard to watch the length of the platform
    3) Passengers didn’t behave unsafely when the doors were closing.

    (These are my personal opinions and not those of my employer)

  4. Peter Isaacs says:

    How many readers of this blog are aware that HOP is the branding used on the Auckland Transport card? Will the public notice if their email request to HOP gives them an NZ answer? I believe that this is a badly thought out or totally un-researched name to use.

  5. @Peter –

    Perhaps, though I find it unlikely. About as many people know the Hop brand by name as they knew the old Cityrail L7 brand by name (close to nil). Virtually all know it by visual recognition only, and the ones who do know it by name would probably be knowledgeable enough to not get confused by any possible Auckland references.

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