06.08.2020A passenger focus for response and recovery on Melbourne’s tram network

A reflection by Julien Dehornoy, CEO Yarra Trams.

When starting as Yarra Trams’ CEO in January this year, this wasn’t the year I had planned for our business. I don’t think any of us could have seen this coming.

We continue to operate in uncertain times, with new restrictions announced earlier this week.

At Yarra Trams, we’re committed to providing safe services for people who need to travel on our trams. We’ve worked closely with the State to make the necessary changes, with extra cleaning, capacity and passenger information, and in line with the COVID-19 curfew, reduced services after 8pm each night.

But we’re also focused on the long-term future of the network and our recovery.

It’s critical that we look at the innovations and improvements we can make across our network for our passengers, to encourage them back to the network as restrictions ease and the threat of COVID is gone. We’re assessing what projects can be undertaken to improve our services for the long-term future of our network, while also providing additional jobs for Victorians.

Examples from other cities show a hesitancy to return to public transport. In Melbourne we have approximately eight times less passengers on our trams, compared to 2019. But public transport is still critical, now to move essential workers, and it will be once we recover.

Since the new COVID-19 restrictions were announced earlier this week, we’ve been working closely with the State on what this means for our network. Until the end of Stage 4 lockdown, we’ll be running to an average frequency of every 40 minutes across all routes during the curfew period, and night network will not operate.

But we’re still continuing enhanced cleaning across our network including nightly deep cleans, cleaning at stops and trams at termini, in between services where possible. This is receiving positive feedback from passengers. We’ve also started extra shuttle services on Collins Street. This adds extra capacity along the busy corridor, to provide extra space when restrictions are lifted and patronage increases. Plus, contactless hand-sanitiser stations have been installed across stops in the CBD, and we’re continuing onboard and social media messages about cleaning and social distancing.

As part of the State’s Working for Victoria Fund, we’re employing almost 300 additional people for cleaning roles. This helps ensure effective hygiene standards across our network, while also providing employment to people who lost their job due to COVID-19.

We’re continuing our infrastructure upgrade works and rolling stock maintenance and overhauls during this time. Our rolling stock life-extension program will be expanded to include our A and Z-Class trams. This is thanks to the Victorian Government’s stimulus package, and will create more than 300 jobs, directly and indirectly.

Now, while there are less passengers, it’s an opportune time to undertake more projects for the long-term sustainability of our network. I look forward to working with our partners on how we make innovative changes to provide a better service for tram passengers.

Julien Dehornoy, CEO Yarra Trams 

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