PTV hiding their new Oakleigh to Chadstone bus service

For the past few weeks Public Transport Victoria have been running 1/3 page advertisements in Melbourne’s mX newspaper to promote a new bus service. So why can’t I find a mention of it anywhere else?

PTV advertisement in mX promoting the high frequency bus service between Oakleigh station and Chadstone shopping centre

The text of the advertisement reads:

Oakleigh to Chadstone high frequency service during shopping hours

With buses from Oakleigh every 4 minutes on weekdays and and every 10 minutes on weekends, the Oakleigh bus service is the best way to get from the city to Chadstone Shopping Centre.

Train services from the city to Oakleigh station depart every 10 minutes, seven days a week.

Take the stress out of your Christmas shopping and relax knowing that a bus is always just around the corner.

This service is prepaid meaning you have to have myki money or a valid myki pass before boarding. Customers who need to buy or top up a myki can do so at Oakleigh station or Chadstone Shopping Centre.

Other than the advertisements in mX, finding any other mention of the new bus service is virtually impossible.

A check of the Public Transport Victoria website doesn’t bring up anything.

PTV 'latest news' page dated December 2014

Searching Google for “ptv chadstone oakleigh shuttle bus” only brings up references to existing bus services in the area.

Empty search results for 'ptv bus chadstone oakleigh shuttle'

The details of a “Free Chadstone Shuttle” also shows up, but this private bus service only runs a few times a day from the city and requires pre-booking – it appears to be targeted at tourists wanting to spend up big.

Chadstone Shopping Centre - free fashion shuttle bus

Eventually, I found a tweet dated December 11 from bus operator CDC Victoria referencing the new service.

So why is Public Transport Victoria promoting their their new Oakleigh to Chadstone bus service so sparingly?

Another useless next train display from V/Line

The other month I was in Riddells Creek, so I stopped into the local railway station to snap a photo of the next train to pass through.

N458 leads the up Swan Hill service express through Riddells Creek

I found a LED display beneath the veranda, that lookslike it should tell intending passengers how long it is until the next train.

Unfortunately it does nothing of the sort – it just scrolls between ‘Welcome to Riddells Creek’ and ‘Services do not stop at North Melbourne’.

LED screens at V/Line stations have actually been in place for at least a decade – normally they display the next timetabled departure from each station, with the screen automatically moving to the next service when the clock ticks past the scheduled departure time. That makes the screens useless for someone turning up 1 minute past the timetabled departure time – is the next train running late but on the way, or it has already departed with the next one being hours away?

As for Riddells Creek, their screen is even more useless – the message it projects is something a simple piece of paper could do.


V/Line has had “install real time train information at stations” on their to-do list for some time – V/Line’s Accessibility Action Plan progress report dated September 2013 has the following to say:

Improve real time information for customers

Roll out Passenger Information Displays across the network.

Installation of PIDs


Progress as of September 2013:
PIDs, including visual displays and audio announcements, will be rolled out across 35 stations on the Regional Fast Rail network by September 2014

Another timetabled V/Line service running late!

How do you refuel a ship?

Have you ever wondered how ships get refuelled while in port? Unlike cars, ships don’t get taken to a petrol station, but the tanker comes to them.

Shell Australia’s bunker vessel 'MV Zemira'

Known as a ‘bunker barge‘ these vessels pump fuel oil from their own tanks into those of the ship requiring refuelling.

Shell Australia’s ‘MV Zemira’ is a regular sight around the Port of Melbourne. I’ve found her at work at Webb Dock.

Bunker barge 'MV Zemira' in the turning basin at Webb Dock

I’ve found her refuelling tankers on the lower reaches of the Maribyrnong River.

'CSL Pacific' berthed at the Yarraville bulk berths

And I have even found her down at Station Pier topping up the Spirit of Tasmania.

Spirit of Tasmania being refuelled by bunker barge 'Zemira'

The MarineTraffic website gives her stats as follows:

IMO: 9397767
MMSI: 503542000
Gross Tonnage: 2532
Deadweight: 3876 t
Length × Breadth: 74.5m × 16.82m
Year Built: 2007

Some more detail on Zemira can be found in the 2007 media release from Shell:

Shell’s new barge, Zemira, sets sail in Melbourne

Shell Australia’s new bunker vessel MV Zemira was launched today at Station Pier, Port Melbourne, by the Victorian Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, Mr Martin Pakula MLC and Shell Australia Chairman, Mr Russell Caplan.

Zemira commenced bunkering operations in the Port of Melbourne on 22 September 2007 following certification and trials.

The specifications of the newly built vessel are certainly impressive:

  • 3800 deadweight tonnes (dwt),
  • double hull and double bottom,
  • self propelled,
  • capacity to carry 3200MT of Heavy Fuel Oil and 600MT of Gas Oil,
  • capacity for 150MT of bulk lubricants, and
  • first dedicated bunkering vessel in Australia to be fully compliant with MARPOL Annex I

The Zemira is 74.5 metres in length, 3876 dwt, has five pairs of cargo tanks and two slop (lube) tanks totalling 4668 cubic metres served by three 500m3/hr cargo pumps. Her twin Anqing Daihatsu main engines deliver 11 knots, and she has accommodation for a permanent crew of six. The vessel is manned and operated by ASP Ship Management Pty Ltd, one of the leading ship operators and managers in Australia.

Zemira is named for the Zemira australis – a relatively rare mollusc of the Family Pseudolividae, with origins in the Cretaceous period some 100 million years ago. It is endemic to Australia and occurs from Fraser Island in Queensland to Tasmania. It grows to around 31mm in length.

Ill-conceived advertising tram designs

Advertisers love Melbourne’s trams – the provide a giant rolling billboard to splash their message across the city.

D1.3529 advertising 'Beware the Rhino' outside Flinders Street Station

However in designing their advertisements, design agencies often forget one important feature of a tram – opening windows.

That is one creepy looking guy on the side of a tram!

Which one is creepier – swarthy salesman minus his nose?

Eyeless pretty boy on the side of a tram

Or teen prettyboy without eyes?

How does public housing impact a suburb?

It has been a while since I last wrote public housing – a history of the Ascot Vale estate was the most recent one. This time I ask the question – does the presence of public housing impact the rest of a suburb?

Housing Commission flats in Ascot Vale

Last year Melbourne newspaper The Age wrote about a council survey of residents in Richmond and Fitzroy who lived near public housing estates:

Separate lives on our housing estates
November 27, 2012
Miki Perkins

Overwhelmingly, residents at the Richmond estate and those living nearby were concerned about the effect drug use had on the area’s safety. Residents told the council’s researchers the playgrounds were raked every day to remove needles, and women living nearby avoided walking on or near the estates.

”I don’t like my children to go into the gardens. There are people there I don’t trust and needles that will harm them,” said a Richmond estate resident quoted in the report.

Only two in five people from the surrounding area had been to the estate, and this was primarily to use it as a short cut.

In Fitzroy, many said they felt two separate communities were living in close proximity, with the estate a ”no go” zone. But the majority said they were willing for more integration, including removing the perimeter fence and putting paths through the estate, the report found.

They also ran a piece on the effect that public housing estates had on property prices:

Public high-rises keep prices down
October 2, 2012
Simon Johanson

The closer you live to public housing estates such as Richmond’s towering commission flats, the lower property values become. Data supports what is often an unspoken assumption among home buyers – namely, that properties farther from public housing estates generally sell for more than those close to them.

Five years of sales results in Richmond show a median price of $765,500 for homes within 200 metres of the towers. Beyond 200 metres, the median rose to $795,000, analysis by buyer advocate Paul Osborne found. Being near to housing commission flats has a negative effect on value, he said.

So how about Ascot Vale and the public housing estate there? Unfortunately I don’t have access to a real estate sales result database, but I found some other interesting statistics to look at in the 2009-2010 annual report of the Moonee Valley Legal Service.

Looking at the country of origin of residents, the 2006 census gave the population of the suburb of Ascot Vale to be 12,398 people, with 3,382 being born overseas (27%). Meanwhile on the housing commission estate the statistics are flipped on their head – those born overseas dominate, as seen in the table below. When the two statistics are combined to exclude residents of the public housing estate, the number of overseas born residents in Ascot Vale falls from 27.3% to 18.4%.

Country Percent
Australia 27%
Ethiopia 15%
Vietnam 12%
Somalia 9%
Eritrea 4%
Sudan 3%
China 2%
El Salvador 2%
Chile 2%
Other 24%

A similar disconnect between the public housing estate and the rest of the suburb is seen when examining the unemployment rate: the 2006 Census states that of the 6,372 people aged 15 years and over in the Ascot Vale population only 7.0% are unemployed, but among the public housing residents 83.3% are not participating in the workforce.

The reliance on government benefits is reflected in the median individual income statistics: in the three public housing Estates in Moonee Valley around two-thirds of all households live on an income of under $400 per week. For comparison the 2006 census found the average Australian earned $466 per week, with the average Ascot Vale resident earning $520 per week.

As for the rest of Ascot Vale, having a public housing estate down the road doesn’t seem to have killed property prices: according to Australian Property Monitors the median house price for the suburb in 2012 was $683,000 and growing by 6.8% per year.

Further reading