Train passengers reveal the best and worst commutes in Australia

MANY of us have no choice but to use them, so the least they could do is make the experience as pleasant as possible.

But when it comes to train travel, it appears the commuters of Melbourne are Australia’s longest suffering, with Sydney’s public transport users not far behind.

To find the country’s most contented commuters you have to go west.

While a list of passenger pet peeves has found loud conversations on mobile phones and coughing fits the most frustrating.

A survey by market researchers Canstar Blue has ranked the train networks of Australia’s five largest cities according to the views of more than 3000 passengers.

Melbourne’s Metro network received consistently low reviews from users and is at the bottom of the ladder nationwide for cleanliness, its creaky Myki smartcard ticketing system and fare prices.

Yet, a separate piece of research from 2015 found ticket prices in Melbourne were actually lower than Queensland or NSW.

Canstar Blue editor Simon Downes said the results painted a “pretty bleak picture” of rail travel in Melbourne.

“No rail network is perfect, and most reasonable people will be able to accept bad days, whether it’s because of delays, overcrowding or any number of other issues that can occur at busy times. However, it’s when these problems become the norm, rather than the exception, that passengers have every right to feel angry,” he told the Herald Sun.

Melbourne’s rail system has suffered from a series of engineering faults this year whileits ticket inspectors are widely seen as Australia’s most officious and eager to fine.

More than 50 per cent of Melbourne travellers said their trip was regularly delayed compared to just 15 per cent of Perth commuters and 70 per cent said Metro trains were overcrowded.

Melbourne also tied with Adelaide and Perth for having the most amount of people feeling unsafe at night, although the majority still felt secure.

Metro only scored mediocre for timetabling, comfort and overall satisfaction with no top scores at all.

As if on cue, on Monday Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced a $2 billion contract for 65 new suburban trains. To be delivered from 2019 onwards, initially on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines, the new trains will have 20 per cent more space for passengers.

Public Transport Victoria said Metro had hit punctuality targets for 53 months in a row and 92 per cent of August services ran on time.

Sydneysiders were only slightly more satisfied with the Opal card system and ticket prices than their Melbourne counterparts, a situation that is unlikely to improve with the recent withdrawal of the Weekly Travel Reward which has stung regular commuters.

But users of the Sydney Trains network were generally pleased with their service, the timetable and travel comfort, all of which have improved between 2015.

Queensland Rail commuters save their biggest grumble for ticket prices which is no surprise as, according to some surveys, they are stung with the highest fares in Australia.

However, Brisbanites were happier on comfort, cleanliness and overall satisfaction and they feel the safest.

Adelaideans were generally pleased with their train service with a steep year-on-year decline in complaints about overcrowding.

The sun shines most brightly for public transport users in Perth. Commuters have given the Transperth service five stars for ticketing, comfort, reliability and schedules.

“In addition to Transperth’s positive ratings, customers were also found to be less likely to report regular overcrowding or anti-social behaviour on the network compared with a year ago,” said the report.

Passengers’ pet hates were also surveyed with 58 per cent giving loud personal conversations, in person or on mobiles, the thumbs downs and 54 per cent saying sneezing and coughing also riled them.

Almost half of people couldn’t abide smelly fellow passengers while 45 per cent whinged about loud music and rampant children.

But it seems we’re not that bothered about meeting strangers. Just six per cent of travellers said fellow passengers striking up a conversation annoyed them.


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