Archive for August, 2008

Connex encourages fare evasion…

After riding into the city with a valid ticket this morning, I felt a little uncomfortable to be yet again confronted by the trench-coated Connex “heavies” standing over every turnstile to make sure we’re all doing the right thing.

I understand that Connex is losing money by the bus load every week to fare evasion, but I think it’s well time they took a moment to see why people aren’t buying tickets – the system is cramped, dirty, unreliable and overpriced.

Most of our train stations are unstaffed and the ticket pricing system doesn’t make sense. I don’t see why I should have to pay for a two hour ticket if I only want to travel two or three stops.

Time after time we see politicians and representatives from our public transport providers heading off on junkets to see how transport works better in other countries, but they never improve anything when they get back. Maybe it’s because these are people who don’t actually use the system.

I guess we’ll have to wait two years to see if the Myki system will change anything. Considering the time and money already wasted on this system, and the fact our government insists on pursuing it (hmm…can I smell dodgy deal or incompetence cover up?), I’ll try not to get too excited.

Our system is fixable, and in a way that would provide a better system for its users, and make more money for the providers. As money doesn’t seem to be an object for Connex, I can’t see why this problem can’t be resolved.

Charging the dwindling amount of people who actually pay for the system more, while providing an increasingly ineffective and unpleasant system is not the answer – quite the opposite, it’s why people give up and stop paying.

CBD Beach

Sun-tanning on warm sand. Listening to the waves crawl up the shore.

Port Melbourne / South Melbourne / St. Kilda / Brighton beach? Nope.

The Melbourne City Council is considering converting a stretch of the Yarra Bank (reportedly on the East-side of Swanston Street) into a temporary beach for an annual ‘Summer Party’ of sorts.

Really ambitious. But a tad bit congested, no?

ABC article: Plans for a city beach

Where Art Thou Week 17

Hello again and welcome to another series of ‘Where Art Thou’. The picture above is part of a bigger piece of work. What is this piece of work and where is it? Fastest fingers wins!

Answers on Wednesday.

Fare Evaders! Who’d you call? GHOSTBUSTERS!

Ghostbusting!

Ghostbusting!

Here’s a funny one for all those who refuse to take public transport (admit it, you’re one of several millions in Melbourne who’ve swore allegiance to your car). I picked up this ghost buster brochure (right: series 6 of 10 Passenger Card) while travelling through the city last week and was laughing my head off just reading it.

In an attempt to ‘revive’ interest in tram transport, Yarra Trams has launched a Did You Know? series of competition where regular all you’ve to do is answer a simple question and a 16GB iPod Touch and a monthly metcard is potentially yours. But who cares about the freebies when the flipside of the brochure just makes your day?!

I like how we're talked down like we're stupid. So. Epic. Funny.

I like how we're talked down like we're stupid. So. Epic. Funny.

Keep a look out for other Passenger Cards out in the trams. I brought one home and pinned it on my wall ‘coz it really made my day. Kudos to the team who came up with it. Watch out fare evaders! :O

Check out the Yarra Trams website for more funny brochures and win some awesome prizes here.

A closer look: Transport sector energy use

alextokai commented on my last post Melbourne, get to know your energy use:

“I have to point out that ‘Transport’ in the second graph would include shipping as well as private motorists so much of this may be commercial usage rather than residential. Then again, we can reduce that by change our consumer habits and buying locally.”

I was curious to learn more about energy use in transport – what types of transport use what, and how each contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

(more…)

Rude, racist staff in Cafe Andiamo

Cafe Andiamo - Great food and coffee. Pity the staff aren't.

Cafe Andiamo - Great food and coffee. Pity the staff aren't.

Cafe Andiamo, along Degraves Lane, is one of the more popular coffee and meal spots in Melbourne. It’s a personal favourite of mine, having spent many cold winters and hot summers there with my fiancee and dog. It’s a warm, fuzzy relationship built up over four years. I love it.

Of course, I write this to warn people never to go there again. Unless barbed racial remarks done with unprofessional subtlety is what they are eager for.

Yesterday arvo, my fiancee, her sister and me made our way to Andiamo after running some errands. It was lunch time and naturally, packed to the rafters. We spotted an empty table lane side and sat down. Really, the three of us were in good spirits. Laughing, teasing, gesticulating madly while telling each other a story.

It became clear we weren’t going to be served quickly, so I made my way to the counter to grab some menus. I’m familiar with what they serve, but I felt like an All Day Brekky and wanted to know if they served it during lunch time (alas, they don’t serve it between 12-2pm).

We took several minutes to decide, and my fiancee’s sister decided to call for the staff’s attention. My back was facing the counter, so while mucking around with the girls I flapped the menus around like a lightsaber. Mostly to get the staff’s attention too, but also because I can.

A longtime staff (I won’t mention race, coz it’ll be really obvious) came over. I greeted him. His response?

“You don’t have to wave the menus as I gave you the menus so I’ll know when to come over. This is not Chinatown.” (more…)

Melbourne, get to know your energy use

Something we all depend on everyday is energy. Whether it be flicking a switch, twisting a knob, or turning a key, energy use is now so convenient and such a pervasive part of our lives that many of us don’t know a lot about where it comes from. But energy use is one of the most important things to know about, because understanding energy use gives us more control over two big things: how our money is spent, and how much greenhouse gas we are responsible for contributing to the atmosphere.

It is a big topic, but I think there are probably three main things to know about energy:
1. Where it came from;
2. How it is used; and
3. How much greenhouse gas it is responsible for emitting.

What are Victoria’s energy sources?

49% of Victoria’s total energy use comes from coal. In terms of electricity in Victoria, over 90% is supplied by brown coal (lignite). Brown coal is most inefficient fossil fuel because it is composed of two-thirds water so some of its energy content is used just driving off this water.

How is energy used?

Most of us have control over the energy used in our state in the categories of residential energy use (which basically means energy used in households) and energy used in transport. According to Sustainability Victoria …

“In 2004-05, 21% of Victoria’s final energy was used in the residential energy sector and 42% in the transport sector.”

As you can see, adding these two categories together (63%) gives a big slice of the pie.

Looking closer at household energy use in Victoria we can see that 59% goes to space heating and cooling while 21% goes to water heating.

What about greenhouse gas emissions?

Victorian electricity (mostly brown coal) produces 1.392 kg CO2e per kilowatt-hour. Victorian gas produces 0.0636 kg CO2e per megajoule. As there are 3.6 MJ in 1 kWh, brown coal produces 0.387 kg CO2e per megajoule, meaning brown-coal electricity produces six times the greenhouse gas emissions of gas for the same amount of energy. This is why it is better to use a gas cook-top or heater than a electric one.

Victorian electricity produces a lot of greenhouse gas emissions because of its reliance on brown coal. In fact, Victoria’s Hazelwood power station has been ranked the dirtiest power station in the world, according to the WWF.

Sources and more information can be found at:
Sustainability Victoria – Energy Use in Victoria
Sustainability Victoria – Energy Generation in Victoria
Sustainability Victoria – Energy Use by Sector
The Climate Group – The Greenhouse Indicator Victoria
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics data
Environment Victoria – What is brown coal?
Sustainability Victoria – Fact Sheets on Saving Energy in the home
Black vs. Green Energy
The Age – The Dirty State We’re In

More bad news for the West

Just when things are quiet, we get a shooting and a machete attack on the same day. A woman was shot by her ex-partner at the Watergardens Railway station during the evening peak hour. With trains arriving every half hour to bring residents home, many were unable to move their vehicles because they were part of the crime scene. Good thing it was a Monday evening. There would have been more people milling around on Thursday and Friday evenings, with the attached Watergardens shopping centre opened til 9 pm.

Earlier in the day, a teenager was attacked with a machete in Copperfield College on their Delahey campus. How a youth can go around carrying a machete baffles my mind, and where in Victoria do you buy a machete?

Just another day.

News Link
The Age “Double shooting at station
Herald Sun “Gunman shoots himself dead …”
The Age “Teenager to face court …”
Herald Sun “Teenager to face court …”

A tongue not your own…

This morning I rode an early train to the city and not only enjoyed the rare pleasure of a seat, but also the chance of overhearing a conversation in Spanish I couldn’t understand – except for the occasional word.

As a fan of language and communication, I love Melbourne for the diversity of languages it’s possible to hear. Personally, I think one of the most satisfying things to experience is conversing, however poorly, with a stranger in their own language and for both people to be able to understand each other.

If you’re interested in picking up a new language and maybe one day practicing with a tourist or even a local, you might want to check out either The Foreign Language Bookshop in the CBD or Intext in Hawthorn.

Why all the fuss over a boy?

Photobucket

Is it possible that ALL the media’s attention is focused on this poor little boy ‘coz:

a) He lives in the oft used ‘leafy inner-East’ suburb of Hawthorn?
b) He (potentially) went missing in the oft used ‘leafy inner-East’ suburb of Hawthorn?
c) Media likes to play up a misdeed in the rich, established areas of the ‘leafy inner-East’ suburbs?
d) All of the above?

Cmon, stop with all the press. Shit happens in the West and the media goes ape over it, but when same shit happens in the East nothing goes reported. Similarly, a missing person in the East sparks a media frenzy and I suspect no one would bat an eyelid had it occurred in the West.

Now all I need is a ‘Man bites dog’ headliner from a poor, uneducated Western suburb. Afterall, these kind of bogan activities only happen in the West.

/sarcasm

Image from The Age

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