Monday, December 27, 2010

Express Tram Stops on Victoria St

Victoria St Richmond is a ticking traffic time bomb. With Salta office and residential developments coming online within the next year and the Honeywell site redevelopment being approved, we're going to see a massive increase of cars and demand for tram services down this much loved street. This coupled with Ballieu's wind back of clearway times will make Victoria St a virtual parking lot if something isn't done and SOON.

Serious consideration must now be given to an express stopping pattern for trams during peak hours in the morning and evening. The proposed stops will be Burnley St, Church St, North Richmond Station and Hoddle St. This neatly corresponds to the existing tram map.

In all this express stopping pattern by-passes 6 stops, and by reducing the amount of stops will hopefully improve flow of traffic behind trams.

Planning must now begin for super stops to handle the larger amount of people that will get on an off express stops. Peak and off peak branding must be installed on tram stops along the road and an education campaign advising commuters of this change must go live 6 months before the express stopping patterns are started.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

#Myki machines on trams

The rollout of myki machines on trams has yet to begin, but already there is enough information out there to begin analysis on what to expect. Information gleaned from the myki website suggests that it will alow myki money top ups of up to $20 and that it will sell short term myki passes which is the equivalent of 2 hour or daily metcards for tourists. In other words it will not provide any better functionality than metcard. SHAME!

The two big issues I see are the lack of myki pass support, and secondly the lack of support for electronic payment methods.

The lack of myki pass support is a kick in the shins for regular tram commuters who'll inconveniently still have to go to a train stations/tram superstops to get instant myki pass top ups. Either that or purchase them online and wait a minimum 24 hours before the transaction is approved. Presumably the lack of myki pass support is because there is an issue with the storage of large volumes of cash on a tram, which brings us to the next issue, why is there still no support for electronic payment methods?

If myki touch on and touch off information can be relayed back to a central database, there must be a means for communication from the tram to the outside world, and hence a means for electronic payment methods. Are electronic payment methods too slow to function on a tram? Are they too unreliable? Or is it something for the too hard basket?

Melburnians should rightly expect things to improve with myki, except we're once again stuck with the status quo of coin collecting. Perhaps we'll see more tram superstops with full functionality myki topup machines scattered around every route in the future, but at the moment they are only seen in the city.

This blog post is a request that myki reconsiders the myki pass functionality on their tram top up machines to allow, at minimum, purchase of a weekly myki passes, then progressively phase in more days as a solution for increased storage and disposable of money on trams or electronic payments becomes available.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hey Lezala, Let's put the "P" back in premium station

Let's play a game. Name a service that you'd like to get at a suburban train station that you don't normally do.

A) Working myki or metcard machine? Regular stops? A working toilet? Bzzzt. Wrong?
B) ATM? YES and at all premium stations please. A single ATM hardware that accepts software and firmware upgrades from multiple banks. A touch screen device where you can select your service provider and not get other bank charges. That's a thought.
C) Mail Box - Why doesn't the mail man catch a train?
D) A GP - not feeling well? Let the GP send you home with a certificate before you get on the train and affect other commuters, let alone your work colleagues.

The list goes on. It's a high time metro outlines a minimum set of standards for premium stations beyond the 10 year old paradigm of regular stops and manned stations. Let's put the "P" back in Premium ay?

Friday, September 10, 2010

Myki lessons and the way forward

The myki concept in itself is decent, but the project has been plagued with very poor project management and implementation. Myki is a casestudy on how NOT to build a smart card system, compared to "successful" implementations like Octopus and Oyster. So what did the other smart cards do right that we didn't? I'd suggest two things: 1) they weren't overly ambitious from the start 2) they had a quick transition period from their old systems.

Firstly, the Oyster card was first issued to the public with a limited range of features. Myki was overambitious from the start. From offering a myki money system that wasn't fully tested, to beginning with online topups rather than top ups at stations. This was a radical change from the existing metcard system, which in turn required an education campaign. The focus at the start should have clearly been to build a low risk system that worked and that was familiar enough to existing metcard users so they could easily make the transition.

Lesson 1) They should have built a virtual metcard using myki equipment. Offering the exact same tickets as metcard (2hr, daily, weekly, monthly, etc), but using myki touch on and off technology. Myki money, online topups, etc could have been phased in later when fully tested or killed off if the government ran out of money.

Secondly, unlike the Octopus system which forced users to transtition to their new system within the first 3 months, we've had a year of two parallel system running with no end date for metcard in sight. Hence, why there has been a low uptake of the myki system. This is obviously a bad situation to be in.

The dilemna is mainly caused by the poor myki money rollout, where people just don't have confidence that the correct fare will be calculated. How can you force commuters to adopt a system that they're not sure will work? The solution is you don't.

The way forward from this mess is to isolate myki money from the rest of the system, so that it's not integral to the way the system works. As I mentioned previously, exact equivalent metcard fares need to be offered on myki pass (2hr, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly and all the variants). If commuters are not confident in the myki money calculations they can now bypass it by buying prepaid fares on the myki pass system. This therefore negates the need for metcard readers, ticket top up machines, and paves the way for a full rollout of myki topup machines.

Lesson 2) The only way to have quick adoption is to force people to upgrade to a RELIABLE system.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Melbourne Bike Share: Replacing helmets with Insurance

-State government
-Melbourne City Council
-TAC - Registration of bike riders?
-Personal insurance - RACV offer a product - Must be affordable.

Improving bike share infrastructure
- bike lanes
- restricting bike riders without helmets to bike lanes

-Speed Limits within Bike Share Zone - Melbourne City Limits
-Enforcement - Fines / Demerit points to correct behaviour.
-Defensive bike riding courses

Timeframe (minimum 2 years before renewed helmet laws)
- Continue to develop bike infrastructure
- Helmet promotion campaign in the mean time.
- Debate and introduce new laws providing choice.
- Introduce insurance products
- Can bike share survive 2.5 years with helmet laws?

Friday, July 16, 2010

More Brumby greenwash

On the 15th of July, the Victorian government announced plans for a $100 rebate on registering hybrid vehicle in a press release named "VICTORIA TAKES ACTION TO LEAD NATION ON CLIMATE CHANGE".

How is offering a rebate on hybrid vehicles taking the lead on climate change? Shouldn't we be discouraging people from buying personal vehicles and using more public transport? Investing more in public transport would undoubtedly be a more effective measure. The problem for Brumby is investment in public transport isn't percieved to be acting on climate change. He needs to be seen to be doing something.

So wink, wink, nudge nudge, a plan to support the Victorian manufacturing of Hybrid Camry's gets a subsidy disguised as action on climate change.

Good work Brumby, you really pulled the wool over my eyes this time.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bums on Seats - Melbourne Bike Share Challenge

Based on anecdotal evidence the Melbourne Bike Share sheme is struggling, which is a shame, because it's a great initiative. Below are some thoughts on how we can get some extra bums on seats and make the scheme more of a success.

1) Temporary Bike Stations - We know Universities are busy during the week and normally quiet during the weekend. Conversely, places like the MCG or Docklands football stadium are busy on the weekends, but would have a hard time justifying their existence on weekdays. Do bike share stations needed to partitioned into Weekday and Weekend stations to reflect this reality?

A key to getting the bike share scheme to work is getting as many stations out to places people frequent. Justifying a station such as the MCG could be hard based on 7 day patronage figures, but opening stations at the MCG just on the weekends could be a work around for this problem. Excess bikes from Melbourne University could be shifted to the MCG on weekends.

Understanding that Melburnian's travel habits are not rigid, is a key to a dynamic system and one that would maximize utilization.

2) Discounts - It doesn't take a genius to figure out that bike share patronage will be down on a rainy day. This will always be the case, but can some people be enticed to use the system on rainy day by offering discounts? Will a 50% discount be enough to entice people? What about extending the free travel period from 30 minutes to 60 minutes on a rainy day to factor in the wet?

The crux of getting this discount scheme to work is semi "real time" notifications. Push notifications via mobile phones or SMS notifications for subscribers can be sent at 6:30am in the morning. If rain is forecast or detected, a message offering discounts to users and a reminder to bring a helmet should be sent.

Further patrons should be able to register their favourite stations. If a station is underforming, discount notifications can be sent to users to encourage patronage.

3) Loyalty program - I like getting my free cup of coffee after 10 drinks, and i'm sure bike riders would appreciate a free ride after X amount of trips. It's a simple and effective way to encourage repeat patronage.

4) Bike share Buddies - Much like myki mates, the initial reaction from many Melburnians is confusion on how the scheme works. Having volunteers available to explain and demonstrate the features will be a key part of getting bums on seats.

5) Better integration with city wide festivals - Melbourne is a city of festivals. The Food and Wine festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival, Melbourne Open House and The Melbourne Internation Comedy Festival to name a few. These festivals use venues scattered around the city, and are excellent candidates to promote the use of bike share. Cross promotion and using the "bring a helmet" slogan would be benefitial for all.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Analysis: The Melbourne Metro Transport Plan

The government has finally realeased details of the Melbourne metro plan, analysis as follows:

An interchange or provision for an interchange should be provided at Lloyd street for connection with the Upfield and Cragieburn lines. This is currently not included in the plan.

The Arden metro should be located adjacent to Abbotsford st and Queensberry st to provide connections with the 57 West Maribynong tram. The Arden metro will likely see high rises spring up in North Melbourne. The government and local councils should work in concert to protect Errol St and heritage buildings in the area.

Consideration should be given to a new tram line servicing Docklands via the Arden metro to fully activate the North Melbourne Area. Connections to multiple tram line is essential to create a "CBD" type concentration.

The placement of the Parkville metro is excellent. It services the hospitals, university and research hubs in the area. Further it has excellent connections to tram lines down Flemington rd and Royal parade.

Consideration should be given to the effects of tram patronage once the Parkville metro opens. Should trams continue to terminate at the university or should a new terminus, perhaps at Docklands be used? It should be noted that this plan doesn't solve or address the Docklands blackspot.

I believe the location of the North and South CBD metros are appropriate and pragmatic. They take into account trains that travel through the loop and those that run direct to Flinders st. There will be those that a dissapointed that the new metro doesn't tread new ground. Perhaps with a stop that is not already well serviced, say Lygon St, though it's understandable that costs are kept manageable.

Lastly, I agree with the reasoning in the placement of the Domain metro. It will act to reduce peak loads on trams down St Kilda rd which should be commended.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Doyle stuffs up City of Melbourne street signs

The rebranding of the City of Melbourne's street signs has turned into a farce. When Doyle revealed the new logo last year, it was inferred that there would be a slow rollout and logos would be replaced on a as needs basis. Basically when something was broken, it could be replaced and when stationary with the new logo ran out, stationary with the new logo would replace it. At a modest cost to city rate payers. Not so!!

Street signs with the new logo are now randomly popping up in Melbourne's streets, in a manner that quite confusing. On a random inspection of North Melbourne's Streets I found 3 different street signs within one block. With one intersection, the corner Howard St and Victoria St, there were street signs with two different logos on light pole.

But the surprising thing is they can't even get street signs with the new logo consistant.

Notice the subtle differences? The Victoria st sign has a smaller M logo, is in capitals and lacks street numbers! Taking off street numbers is a huge step backwards. Rate payers are paying for an update that provides less information. Absolutely appalling.

No wonder Doyle wants to charge a $4 night parking fee. He needs to find money to fund these wreckless and wasteful spending sprees. Not quite what you'd expect from a supposed economic conservative ex lib. Bring back John So I say!

$4 Night Parking rate should pay for smart parking meters

Those coming into town at night for some shopping, theatres, footy or to sample our great restaurants are in for a rude shock this month, as Doyle rolls out the $4 night rate fee. This is to pay for the Doyle St redevelopment, ahem, Swanston St redevelopment amongst other things.

What it should pay for is an upgrade to our parking meters city wide. It's about time that all our parking meters accepted other forms of payments besides coins. Credit cards and eftpos is a good start, and eventually myki payment should be added if that thing ever starts working properly on trams and buses.

Let's not stop there though, parking meters should be a lot smarter. Technology is available for parking meters to send reminders to our mobile phones before they are about to expire. Shouldn't this be also installed? Or are council's addicted to parking fines, as I suspect they are.

Another area that the City of Melbourne is lacking in is published information on all the different parking zones within the CBD. Is it possible for maps to label where 2 hour parking zones, 4 hour parking zones and 1/2 parking zones are? Can this information be brought together in an iphone or web application?

The City of Melbourne has a lot of work to do to justify it's new parking levy. Adding smart parking features, might bring them back some kudos. Some food for thought.

Integrating Bike Share into City wide events

Some great city wide events are coming up in Melbourne, the State of design festival, Melbourne open house, Melbourne film festival just to name a few. We've seen innovative festival planners integrate web and iphone applications as means to connect with their audience, give information and direct them to city wide buildings. This should continue to happen.

With bike share now released, festival planners now have a new tool besides public transport to get people to visit their events. Could they think strategically and try to choose event buildings within proximity of bike share locations? Could they encourage bike share by encouraging festival participants to bring a helmet? Perhaps they could lobby bike share to include temporary bike stands near their events?

How can you integrate bike share into your event?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The tram network is now Zone 1!

As one of the many people that advocated a single zone for the tram network, the government announcement of this occuring is of course met with praise. There are many benefits of making the tram network zone 1. It will make the tram system simpler and easier to understand. It could boost patronage. It will make Melbourne a lot more accessible, especially to international students travelling to and from Latrobe Bundoora or Deakin Burwood. It removes the need to touch off for 98% of commuters. Importantly it simplifies the myki money calculation improving its reliability and allowing us to use myki on trams. Benefits aside, due to the government's impementation of this, there is one major hurdle that must be overcome, that is the requirement for zone 2 touch off.

This is presumably for those travelling completely within zone 2, say from Vermont South to Camberwell Junction. (A 90c saving, compared to zone 1 based on a 2 hour ticket). Personally, I question whether this footnote is necessary. Are there that many people that make these exclusive zone 2 trips? It would have been much simpler making the whole tram network zone 1 only, and remove the remaining zone 2 sections.

Never the less a targeted education campaign needs to take place to advise commuters of these changes. This can be via a simple annoucement 1 stop before the zone 2/zone 1 transition zone ends. Before Tyler st in Bundoora, Balwyn Rd Mont Albert and Camberwell Junction. Limiting annoucements to these tram lines and services only will limit confusion over the wider tram network, and save advertising dollars for tram network improvements elsewhere.

Pushing the zone boundaries in trams will inevitably lead to discussions on whether this can be done on trains and buses. An indepth of analysis of what stations and what buslines will soon follow.

Monday, June 14, 2010

CrimeStoppers App for Iphone

Police should develop an iphone application to promote awareness of crime in communities.

The app should have the ability to:
1) Identify wanted criminals. - top ten lists.
2) Report realtime crime using the iphone camera and GPS feature. - vandalism, graffiti, etc
3) Give information on crimes in areas using the iphone map feature.
4) Allow police to post safety alert for areas.
5) Importantly give a conduit for the community to assist in crimes.

If we give the community information at their fingertips, more crimes can be solved. Please support this initiative.

Doncaster to Rowville North South Subway line

Melbourne should move away from the old radial line into the city model of the past. The Doncaster to city, Rowville to city plan will only serve minor sections of the community, and hence will always find it hard to gain political support. What's needed is a plan that will connect Doncaster, Rowville and other public transport blackspots to existing radial lines, and one that also seeks to decentralize the focus away from the Melbourne CBD into transport hubs in the east and south east. The north-south subway line is plan much larger in scope that seeks to serve communities from the north of Melbourne through to the southeast.

The proposed route, to be determined in consulation with the community, will use the new growth housing developments in Melbourne's north as commuter employee "sinks" to be distributed via the eastern and south eastern suburbs to employment hubs in the South east fringe where there is an abundance factory jobs, distribution centres and hopefully new centres of excellence following construction of this subway.

The route is ambitious in scope in that it seeks to fill crucial public transport blackspots. It will seek to meet latent demand from the Doncaster, Rowvile, Waverley Park regions, to areas where there are an under supply of public transport options such as Chadstone Shopping centre, Knox City Shopping Centre and Monash University Clayton campus. The route shall also accomodate where possible areas which have a public interest, such as hospitals and schools.

Further where the route crosses existing radial lines from the city to the suburbs, for instance the belgrave/lilydale line, commuter transfer hubs shall be developed. This will allow commuters travelling from the east to the south east to bypass Richmond station, vastly reducing travel times and making public transport a more viable option. The north south subway line will be a major distribution backbone linking the major radial lines in the east and south east.

Given the established nature of the eastern and south eastern suburbs, the lack of reserved public transport corridors and the general "not in my backyard" attitude of Melburnians, it is proposed a majority of the North South line be constructed underground in a subway. As the line will be self contained, the track and rolling stock can be built based on the latest technologies, ensuring reliability, safety and cost effective construction/tendering.

The costs will no doubt be signficant, but this is plan that provides the infrastructure for Melbourne to continue grow. It's a plan that helps better distribute jobs. It's plan that will better connect Melbourne and maintain our leading position at the forefront of livability. I commend you to support it.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Time for Comedic Reality TV Show

The death of Australian Idol presents channel 10 with a golden opportunity to fill the void with a comedic idol of sorts. Based on the idol and masterchef format, contestants from around Australia would compete for the right to be Australia's comedic idol.

Similar to Australian idol there can be themes or topics for each week. Contestants would have to give a 5 minute comic rant, and be judged by 3 guest panelists. There can also be sms voting by the public.

As well as rants by contestants, there could be guest performances from comedians around australia and the world. There could also be "comedy classes" by skilled comedians.

A potential host could be Charlie Pickering, and it's suggested the show be screen after 8:30 so that "realistic" content can be showed.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Lilydale to Richmond via Doncaster

You may have read up about Rob Adam's plan to transform Australia's cities, with Melbourne being his pet project. He proposes growth along Melbourne's transport corridors, down train, tram and bus lines. It's evident from this strategy, that the east will take a significant burden having a lot of the transport infrastructure to promote growth.

This is why due consideration should be given to a new train line in the east. As a good businessman will tell you the absolute key to sustainability of your business is to have a contigency plan. With increased growth, the Belgrave/Lilydale line will be a vital conduit from transport hub Ringwood to the CBD.

The risks of this conduit being broken will have increasingly larger ramfications for the productivity of Melbourne. So, with a bit of forethinking we should act ahead of time, to provide a contigency plan to protect the east's productivity.

A way forward is to provide a new line from the east into the city. Doncaster has been screaming for a train line for decades, and I believe now is the time to act on their request. It is proposed that the Lilydale line be diverted at Ringwood station and travel via Doncaster and the north east to Richmond. Therefore, providing a backup line to the Belgrave line, and also freeing up capacity for extra services for both lines.

Should there be an incident on either lines, diversions from Richmond or Ringwood can provide an alternate conduit, ensuring commuters are can still reach key transport hubs.

A next step to be considered is providing a backbone to this. That is a North-South line connecting train lines from the Hurtsbridge line through to the Frankston. Stay tuned for my next article on this.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Single Zone for Weekend Travel

The Melbourne weekend public transport timetable is appalling. Trains run every 20 minutes at best, trams run every 12 minutes and buses even longer. There is a chicken and egg problem of demand vs supply. People won't take public transport because there are not enough services, and public transport companies won't increase services because of this.

There needs to be a circuit breaker to tip the balance.

Making the whole public transport a single zone on the weekend will seek to push the demand side of things. Getting more people on the public transport so the operators will take notice.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


With parking being such a nightmare in chadstone around special events like mothers day, christmas and even on weekends, it's obvious better public transport links need to be explored.

1) Train link. The closest stations to chadstone at the moment are Hughesdale (pakenham), oakleigh (pakenham), holmesglen (glenwaverly). Hughesdale is probably the closest within walking distance (around 1km). The others having bus links to chadstone. The location of these are sufficient enough barriers for people to continue driving to chadstone.

To rectify this barrier there are a few solutions:
1) Build a new station at chadstone shopping centre.
a) One possible solution would be to extend existing lines to Chadstone.
The glen waverley line can divert from east malvern station -> Chadstone -> Holmesglen. OR
The pakenham line can divert from hughesdale station ->Chadstone->oakleigh.

For political reasons, costing should probably be based on a subway rather than overhead lines due to local resident objections.

b) One could divert lines and bypass existing stations.
Pakenham line
Going from carnegie station->chadstone->oakleigh and deleting murumbeena and hughesdale stations. Murumbeena and glenhuntly could then be served by extending the glenhuntly tram down neerim rd.

c) Create a north-south train line connecting hurtsbridge, belgrave/lilydale, alamein, glen waverley, pakenham and frankston lines. Chadstone could be just one stop in this massive investment. This will be the farthest reaching collecting passengers from the east and south east which are likely that people that drive to chadstone the most.

2) Tram links. The most obvious and shortest extension would be to extend the tram line from the city down waverley rd and turn right down chadstone rd with a super stop at chadstone shopping centre.

3) Bus links - A no brainer is to increase the frequency of bus links to train stations.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Doncaster train line must be commercial!

Whilst new land needs to be developed in the west and services provided to those areas, it's also pragmatic for governments to develop existing pockets of land in the "middle suburbs" a reasonable distance away from the city. Suburbs like Doncaster, Knox, and Rowville.

Previous government estimates have priced a train line to Doncaster at $1billion. Pocket change if you ask me, but to make the development of these lines more financially attactive, the stations themselves need to follow the new metro trains paradigm of commericalization. Train stations can no longer be simply entry points to the public transportation system. They need a mix of community services, office space and retail.

Secondly and importantly new train lines should not create extra bottlenecks inside the city loop. New lines should push forward goals of decentralization. The Doncaster line for example should extend to Ringwood (a transport hub in the Melbourne 2030 plan).

Concepts like transfer hubs also need to be promoted. People should no longer expect a one way ride into the city. Stations outside of the loop, such as Richmond (which by the way needs a major revamp) should act as transport transfer hubs. The Doncaster line feeding through Doncaster - Richmond - Ringwood - Doncaster - creating an outer loop and completely bypassing Flinders St and the City Loop.

These are imporatant pragmatic steps forward in making the Doncaster line a reality. No longer should the Doncaster line be consider an "If" but a "when".

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Housing Commissions Lessons to be learnt

The Age has reported the housing commissions in Fitzroy, Prahran and Richmond will be reworked to better integrate them with their surroundings. Lessons from the 60's need to be learnt, lest we repeat the same mistakes from the past. A few thoughts:

  1. The cheapest solution is not always the best.
  2. Architects and engineers should offer work probono, or at least at a discount. Governments can chip by offerring incentives.
  3. At least one member from each discipline of the design team should visit the existing housing commissions. Interviews should be done with existing tenants to find out problems first hand, from which responses to each should be made, and reasons given for not fixing identified problems.
  4. Holistic design integrating support services on site need to be considered. (A police station, centrelink, mental health services on site)
  5. Government offices need to meet a 5 star greenstar rating, what minimum star rating should housing commissions meet?
  6. New metrics need to be created. How do we design "hope"? What makes sites inspiring?
  7. What minimum tools do we need to provide and design into the site that will help people get out. Is ownership or the lack of it, something that needs be conveyed?
  8. How do we utilize modular prefabricated housing to reduce costs, and increase the speed these developments are constructed?
  9. A lifecycle costing needs to be provided as well as a cost per unit at the beggining of the design phase. Outcomes at the end of a familiy's/person's stay need to be factored into the costs somehow.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Advertising via wifi

Google's sniffing of wifi networks has got me thinking, wifi network names are notoriously boring, and could be used for advertising. Wifi hotspots are everywhere, and with the increase of smart phone usage, logging onto safari on your iphone will automatically detect a wifi network. When most network names are preprogrammed to the router brand, this is a missed advertising opportunity.

Changing wifi network names everyday is not practical, but once monthly is manageable and long enough for a campaign. Pertinent locations could be permanant advertising spots.

Businesses are not likely to change their network names but could easily set up "dumby" routers, broadcasting advertising this way.

Now if there was a way that advertisers could download avertising slogans onto your routers network name, this could lead to a new revolution.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cigarrette packet designs

So Rudd has announced that cigarrette packet designs will now be plain, to stop so called advertising to the younger generation. Although altrusic in intent, I believe the design is unlikely to significantly stop kids smoking, rather it will shift kids to certain brands of cigarettes which are the popular ones of the time.

An interesting social analogy can now be drawn. When people in society are largely similar (say in a cold war communist society), what are are the slight differences which give people an advantage. In many cultures, some believe a slight difference in looks, height and physical appearance is enough to give them advantage, and no doubt cigarrette companies will play the differentiator game.

Package design can be improved. We can design packaging so it is incovenient to carry in the pocket, uncomfortable even. Oversized or odd sized packaging will act as a better deterrent to smoking in several ways.
  1. Makes packets harder to conceal.
  2. Makes packets inconvenient to carry in pockets, leading to smokers "accidently" leaving them at home or misplacing them.
Packets can also be "enhanced" to make smokers go through more steps to get to the cigarette in a packet. Fliptop packets should be modified, increasing the delay and hopefully giving smokers a chance to think more about their habit.

Monday, April 26, 2010

"Round up" to make a difference

With the possibility of the "big issue" entering digital publishing, how can we ensure the unemployed continue to get the same share of profits? Sure there will continue to be hard copies available and people will continue to support this initiative, so does this mean a digital version is moot?

This has made me think about digital "change". 2cents, 5 cents. Small amounts in a physical sense, and when added up by thousands of people could end up being a substancial amount to homeless. Where do we find lots of change? Supermarkets!

With all supermarket electronic purchases, we could round up to the closest dollar or next dollar. The remaining change gets donated to a homeless fund. It could simply be a matter of those at the checkout asking "Would you like to round up for the homeless?" Hitting a button if the answer is yes, and an automatic calculation rounding up to the nearest dollar. A maximum donation would be capped at $1.

Which supermarket will be the first to take on this initiative?

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The ipad face of melbourne photoshoot

To celebrate the release of the Apple Ipad in Melbourne, i'm inviting all new owners to Federation square on Saturday June 26st, 2010 @ 2pm to take part in the Ipad face of Melbourne photoshoot.

What to bring:
  1. You apple ipad
  2. A distinguishing portait of yourself uploaded to your ipad.
  3. An apple (to be donated to the local homeless shelter).

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Allow Myki tickets to "rollover"

Mobile phone users have long benefited from "rollover" plans where unused credit is rolled over to the next month. This benefits the user,when their usage is lower, for instance when they are on holidays.

With the introduction of myki the time is ripe to introduce this same scheme to public transport users. This initiative is all about expanding the public transport user base from office workers and students, to more casual users, that would otherwise catch a car. Obviously there should be limits on the rollover, similar to what telcos do, say two consecutive months, so casual users have incentives to travel more.

The thought process in this is casual users are hesitant to buy longer term tickets knowing their travel plans are sporadic. Giving them a safety net of 2 months to use their ticket should enourage them to make a longer term commitment to public transport usage. Hence providing a piecemeal step by step transition into becoming a permenant public transport user.

By also enforcing myki "touch" off to participate in this "rollover" initiative, the goverment provides an incentive for Melburnians to learn the touch off system. In the long run, benefiting the system by providing a better understanding of public transport user profiles.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Making myki a politcal winner - Single zone for all tram lines

Pakula's faced with a problem. Myki won't function properly on trams, let alone buses. Supposedly a "canyoning" effect is being blamed on cbd buildings for the poor reliability. I don't buy it, and besides there's a work around that could be a real political winner. Make the tram network a single zone.

That's right, lets turn this myki mess into a vote winner in an election year by making trams a single zone. This means abolishing the city saver ticket, which will dissapoint some people, but it also means abolishing zone 2 pleasing others.  Loss in revenue from one can hopefully offset the other.  Even Stevens!

Besides this initiative will have several other benefits. It will make the tram system simpler and easier to understand. It could boost patronage. It will make Melbourne a lot more accessible, especially to international students travelling to and from Latrobe Bundoora or Deakin Burwood. Importantly it simplifies the myki money calculation improving its reliability and allowing us to use myki on trams!! That's right this initiative will kill two birds with one stone. Liberals are you listening? Make it policy!!

The way I see it, the tram network is mostly inner city (zone 1) with only a few lines crossing into zone 2. Forcing people in Bundoora, Box Hill and Vermont South to pay a full zone 1+2 fare into or out of the city for an extremely slow ride can't be justified.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Odour masking clothing?

Surprise surprise another Australian innovation, this time from King Gee. King Gee have combined with CSIRO to develop an odour masking clothing using nanotechnology. Full article here. So what does this mean for water consumption? Can it be now acceptable for people to take less showers? Possibly not, for health reasons. But it does mean people can ride and walk to work more often without worrying too much about bad body odour. Let's hope this technology matures quickly and integrated into everyday clothing.

Ipads as tiles

Melbourne architectural firm ClarkeHopkinsClarke has come up with a novel way to use ipads, as mosaic walls! While the energy efficiency of the wall concept is questionable expanding this concept to a single tile in bathrooms and laundries could pave the way for water and energy efficiency improvements.

Could a mosaic ipad tile be used in the bathroom to calculate and CONTROL our water usage? Could a mosaic ipad tile be used in the laundry to show us the weather forecast, and prevent us from using the dyer?

Information or the lack of it is very important in controlling our behaviours. Let's get more information out there & make a personal difference.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Noise Cameras for main roads

There are various solutions to noise eminating from main roads. The house owner can add sound insulation via double glazing, thick curtains and a fence to block off the noise. The other option is to complain to the government and make changes in laws, requiring cars to emit a certain db level. The next step is to properly police these laws with noise cameras. Cars driving past residential areas that exceed 60 dB after midnight would have their number plates captured on camera.

The fine? A forced modification of their cars to meet strict noise regulations.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

How would you simply for the Belgrave/Lilydale Line?

Andrew Lezala is right. Train timetables are too complicated. We have express trains running direct between Box hill and Richmond. Some stopping at Camberwell and Glenferrie. Some stopping at Surrey hills, Camberwell and Glenferrie. No wonder it's confusing for patrons and controllers!

I think the simplest solution is to have two services only. One express service stopping at premium stations only, and one stopping all stations, running a nominal 5 minutes apart (less during peak periods).

So if you miss a train you know the next one will be at most 10 minutes away, 5 minutes if you're willing to stop all stations.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Myki for your unborn baby

The free myki offer has been extended until the end of the month, January 31st 2010. So have you named your unborn baby yet? Why not register him or her. How about your distant relatives overseas, on the off chance they visit Melbourne? Get them a card Expat friends, get them a card one. While you're at it why not register a backup card, just in case you lose yours. The possibilies are endless. Register Barack Obama a myki card, Kevin Rudd one too while you're at it.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Should their be more visible bike lane signs?

I almost took out a bicyclist today on Sydney Rd, Brunswick. Apologies again to the cyclist, who was shook up but very fair about his complaints about car drivers. This incident has me thinking about what more we can do about bicycle and car safety.

As a driver, who was not familiar with the Brunswick area, I had no idea there was a bicycle lane. Cars were banked up on Sydney rd, and a taxi driver waved me through to make a right turn. Half way through my turn a bicyclist came out of nowhere, and we had a minor bingle. Thankfully nobody was hurt majorly.

I believe had a bicycle marker been painted through the intersection, this would have made me more cautious about the turn, and an incident like this could be avoided. Something simple like a bicycle sign and LOOK OUT, would be sufficient.

Further in improving driver education, google maps should perhaps indicate bicycle lanes on major bike routes and major rds.

How simple it is to get in an accident. Let's be proactive and set up conditions so this can be avoided in the future.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Do we need high rises in the suburbs?

So have you heard about the planned 38 level mixed use residential and office tower in Box Hill? I don't know about you but I think this will stick out like a sore thumb. Developers should be seeking incrememental height change rather than an immediate eye catching showcase. The scary thing though, this building has been pulled out of normal planning considerations and fast tracked through the planning minister's department for approval.

Brumby, Madden and the Labor party are ripping apart normal planning considerations in the name of jobs. As Melburnians we have to ask if this acceptable or not? Do we want mega high rises inconsistent with the existing landscape and without infrastructure to support them? To me this is certainly on the nose. We don't need planning on the run, otherwise we'd turn into sydney. A trip down sydney's anzac parade can show you how ugly a city can turn without proper planning. Something has to be done about this cozy relationship between developers and Labor. Especially in Sydney and Melbourne. Otherwise, the stink of corruption, masquerading as job stimulus is likely to rear its ugly head.

So what can be done? The most effective action is to let the political parties know their limits. Could a protest vote in the eastern suburbs send a message to Labor?

Secondly, there has been precedents overseas of residents taking action against mega rises. For example in Beijing, residents threatened legal action against Siemens for their proposed mega tower outside of the Beijing CBD. Sophisticated light and shadow simulations were used to determine a detrimental shadowing effect on neighbouring buildings. Neighbouring buildings could claim increased lighting bills, a detrimental effect on solar hot water and solar photovoltaic systems.

Let's not take our surburbs and way of life for granted. This is not about stopping development, rather stopping inappropriate non-holistic development. Buildings need to be integrated with their surroundings. Just as the global financial crisis highlighted the need to rein in those in the finance industry, similarly developers need to be reined in.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

The myki consortium is incompetent

I finally recieved my free Myki today, but the letter accompanying it has been completely botched. According to the letter I have a concession myki, when I have actually ordered a full fare myki. The myki is actually a full fare myki, despite what the letter says. Confused? You're not the only one.

First we have incorrectly printed names, now letters suggesting we have concession mykis when we actually have full fare mykis. If they do not have a proper running verification system for sending out letters from a database, how can we be confident they will have a correctly running verification system for touching on and off?

So far myki has been a complete disaster. Somebody has to take responsibility for this mess. It's gross incompetence.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

How many free mykis can you order?

I've just ordered myself 10 free mykis, courtesy of the introductory offer. It was quite easy to defeat the dumb computer database, but can a human detect this scam? If it is so easy to defeat a computer, is the myki system easy to defeat aswell? Should we bring back ticket inspectors?