This week, Transperth are adding a brand new line to the Perth Rail network, linking Mandurah, Rockingham and Kwinana, amongst other places to Fremantle, Clarkson, Armadale and Midland. As the city grows, it's probably a requirement that the rail infrastructure grows as well, to allow more and more people access for business and tourism.
This planning has been going on for well over a year, so it was already in motion when we arrived last November. The modifications that are happening this week have been carefully thought out over a period of no less than 3 months. In order to connect the new line to the network, the Clarkson line has to be disconnected from the Perth station. Theoretically, passengers on the Clarkson line should have to travel in to Glendalough where they can catch a bus the remaining way or continue to Leederville where they can walk for 25 minutes into the city.
Unfortunately, it appears that there was no organisation regarding the actual workaround for the passengers. On Monday, Elsha and I decided to get to the station for 5.40 and catch the earlier train so we would miss the deluge of passengers not knowing where to go. Imagine our frustration when the train we were on stops halfway between stations for an hour and a half.
That's right, not 10, 20 or 30 minutes but 90 minutes without a good explanation. Then, we manage to get to the next station where we can catch a bus to Perth City. Imagine more frustration when we get to the bus platform and discover that not only do the regular bus drivers not know where the rail replacement buses are but that there are no Transperth staff available.
Within 5 minutes, though, staff do make an appearance but confusion continues to reign. Do we "tag on" or not? Some people do, some don't. The Smart Rider system that was introduced in order to stop payment fraud unfortunately doesn't seem to work well, so with lots of people trying to get onto buses, the system began to throw out errors. "Don't worry about tagging on, just get on the buses!", we are shouted at by the Transperth Staff. We didn't "tag on" but what about those people that did?
So we left Joondalup at 5.40am and got to Perth city at 7.30am. That's normally a 30 minute journey.
The unmitigated disaster was quite obviously reported in the News that evening. It was made abundantly clear that the Transperth staff neither had any information as to what was happening nor was being organised in any way to handle queries, questions and issues. Or perhaps no one had forseen that the rail network would be crippled by signal failures that would bottleneck passengers onto buses on an already congested motorway system.
But they should have.
Passengers on other lines have retaliated to those stuck in the choas by stating that this will only be for a week and that the connection to Mandurah has to happen.
I'm not denying that, but is it too much to ask for organisation, sound business planning and keeping your customers satisfied?