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Making crooks of us

Jonathan Schofield and the ticket machines that make people feel like criminals

Written by . Published on March 17th 2008.

Making crooks of us

Paul Clegg was recently at Old Trafford Metrolink station with a handful of change. He fed into the ticket machine a variety of £1, 50p and 5p coins for his £3 peak return to town. The machine wouldn’t have anything to do with the 5ps and spat them out. Clegg tried a £5 note, it went into the note dispenser, paused tantalisingly and then rumbled out again.

Metrolink should provide reliable ticket machines. That should be part of their covenant with passengers. Most of the people I know who use Metrolink regularly have had a similar experience – although not all have been stopped by inspectors.

A tram was coming, there were no shops nearby for change, and Clegg (name changed) had a business appointment. Sod it, he thought, what more can I do? He got on the tram without a ticket. At G-Mex he was collared by an inspector. No excuse was admissable, you can’t travel without a valid ticket, he was told.

“I suggested that I pay the £3 that I’d tried to pay," Clegg told Confidential. "The inspector could then check with CCTV to make sure I was being honest. He refused and I had to pay £10 there and then, or £20 later via cheque or credit card if I couldn’t do that. As I only had £8 that’s what I had to do.

“The whole thing made me feel like a crook,” he continued. “Being stopped by an inspector and made to give your details on a platform as the tram you’d just got off slid past with the passengers you’d just sat next to - some of whom I recognise from regular commuting - was horrible. Perhaps I should have had a ticket, but if I’d walked the quarter of a mile to the nearest shop and returned then I would have been late for my meeting, and who’s to say the money I came back with would have been accepted.

“Metrolink should provide reliable ticket machines. That should be part of their covenant with passengers. Most of the people I know who use Metrolink regularly have had a similar experience – although not all have been stopped by inspectors.”

Stagecoach, who run the system on behalf of GMPTE (Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive), thought we were talking rubbish when we told them about the complaints from Mr Clegg and others. “No, we haven’t got a problem with our ticket machines, given the millions that travel the system every year," said a spokesperson. "Of course sometimes there are issues, but we can tell if a machine is not functioning and inspectors will take that into account if a customer doesn’t have a ticket.”

Frustrated with the truculent admit-nothing attitude of Stagecoach we calledGMPTE. This organisation's spokespeople were more forthcoming.

“We do have problems with reliability with coin and note recognition on the Metrolink ticket machines," they said. At last some straight talking. We also asked GMPTE about complaints. Stagecoach had told us that although they took and responded to complaints from the public they didn't collate the figures, as that was GMPTE's job. A daft answer as this indicates that Stagecoach don't give a damn. And they should because GMPTE told Confidential that, "out of the total number of complaints about the system, 40% are about the ticket machines."

Bless Stagecoach then for saying there's no problem. 40% of complaints against one aspect of Metrolink is huge when you consider all the other things people kick up a fuss about: delays, cancellations, packed trams, dirty trams, inadequate shelter on platforms, security and prices.

GMPTE did have some good news though: “We’re finalising procurement to install new ticket machines by the end of 2009. These will be more robust and offer credit and debit card payment facilities.”

It's just a shame it will take so long. There are many areas of Metrolink travel which regular users find frustrating but the most frequent causes of bother are the awful ticket machines. They are not, to use the latest cliche, 'fit for purpose'.

For Stagecoach to deny this is crass. They should look at their policies again. The machines are so poor that if a passenger can make a case for having tried to honestly pay, then inspectors should charge them the fare they would have paid if there hadn't been a problem.

More importantly Stagecoach and GMPTE should speed up the introduction of the new machines. This would prevent more money being lost to the system by passengers who don’t get stopped by inspectors, whilst preventing those who are stopped from being made to feel like criminals.

Metrolink has been under-resourced for decade and a half, almost from the first journey back in 1992. It started off as something rare and golden in UK transport, an efficient modern service, but has slumped into another British public transport fudge. It needs all the help it can get to bolster its crumbling reputation: new ticket machines would be a start.

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74 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Supporter of a MeetingMarch 17th 2008.

Dickens - I would agree that your solution would be great idea. GMPTE have to provide sufficient inspectors who can issue tickets on the platform/tram (like trains) until new machines are in. This would raise costs a lot forcing GMPTE to reconsider the time scales on bringing in better payment machines. There needs to be a sufficient economic penalty as GMPTE have already demonstrated that don't give a **** about passengers.

cllr.pat karneyMarch 17th 2008.

I have had similar regular problems with the machine on Shudehill on the line to Bury.You get prepared in advance with coins and notes and they won't take them.It drives you around the bend We should get together a list of the worse and demand the metro authorities replace them now--the end of 2009 is too .......ing late.Action now on these crappy machines.

BobbyMarch 17th 2008.

Gambling Machines / Roulette Machines for all of us out there that are suckers for gambling on these things you will will know, these things suck up any old note, £5, £10, £20 and £50 notes very easily, in any condition but when it comes to the Metro Station Ticket Machines, they are next to impossible, only a Mint condition note, that is carefully placed into the machine in "just the right" way will givce you a ticket - Perhaps Metrolink should speak to these companies....!!!Also, whilst I am having a rant, anyone ever tried calling metro link control room when the machine is broken or does not work??? Although I have never been asked to give evidence in court for any criminal offence of any kind, the way one has to intricately explain the fault of the machine whilst on the phone to the controller is utterly remarkable....And lets not even start with the poor newsagents near brooklands Metro that has a Queue of people all in line with their £10 notes wanting a £0.30p packet of Chewing gum!!!

Metrow*nkMarch 17th 2008.

The Metrolink makes me angry beyond belief.It's always late, announcements are inaudible (when they bother to tell you there is a delay), it's filthy, it's unsafe (yes, i got assaulted whilst waiting), the drivers don't care if someone is smoking a joint or getting verbally abused. Drunks use it as a hop on and off without fear of reprieve, and every morning i am subjected to earsplitting garage music played out of some little chav's phone. The machines are faulty and the queues so long, who can blame people for getting on - lord knows when the next one will be. And for this i pay £82.10 a month. My ticket gets checked once a month max so i don't even know why i bother. Probably to save myself the verbal abuse that is often issued by The Fat Inspectors.All in all it's a disgusting, shameful service but the operator's couldn't care less.

N TebbittMarch 17th 2008.

Metrolink needs to be policed by plain clothed police officers.

Clegg-but-no-relation-to-my-tram-hoppin'-hobo-father-PaulMarch 17th 2008.

Antiquated system of payment?That, Spawny, is because they want to get you to pay either by buying a ticket or by NOT buying a ticket so they can surcharge...er...fine you.It seems to work for themk. THAT's why they're in no hurry to change anything. You can bet your sweet bippy that neither executives of Stagecoach nor GNUMPTE use the "service". Unless their car is out of action and the 'planes don't work...

PauletteMarch 17th 2008.

I pay £82.10 a month for my met ticket but that only entitles me to travel on the tram. In London a zone 1-4 travelcard costs little over a £100 but I can go on any form of transport I like. If I get the bus on the weekend or travel to an area not covered by the tram I have to pay extra pushing my monthly costs to over £100. I travel from Langworthy to Altrincham every weekday and I frequently have to stand, crushed against the glass or have to put up with teenagers and their music phones. I once even saw a girl inhale plastic that she was burning - needless to say I moved seats. At least twice a week I have to wait over 30mins for an Eccles tram in the evening and don't even get me started on Siberia station AKA Cornbrook. It makes me irate that I have to stand there freezing even in summer for a tram that may or may not turn up before my hands turn blue.One tip I've found though for making coins work in the machines is to rub the coin on the side of the machine first. The contact with other metal seems to make them collect properly.

Little Miss SunshineMarch 17th 2008.

I have complained more than once to GMPTE about a similar issue- twice I have tried to use faulty machines, when there have actually been inspectors at the station- and whent he machines have run out of change in rushhour the inspectors were incredibly rude. They actually told me it would make their lives alot easier if the machines didn't take notes- hmm-what about the passengers thoguht it was about them?!!! When I pointed out that they should be helping passengers with notes by issue manual tickets distributing change etc they basically told me to get stuffed- we should come to the station with our own bagfuls of change!!! How are they allowed to act like this?

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

so many people seeem to have the same thoughts on the metrolink service, the train service is the same, unreliable , expensive and packed in like sardines at peak times. Remind me again why i should be leaving my gas guzzler at home and hopping on the fab public transport system again ??? its the bain of my life

Timperley girlMarch 17th 2008.

The machines in Timperley often malfunction, reject notes or coins at will. One of the two machines doesn't accept notes at all so you have to queue in the rain at the one that does. It's always been poor, but as machines age and don't get repaired or maintained effectively, it gets worse. Last summer, the Alti line was closed for 6-8 weeks to repair track, but no attention was given to the machines or the squalid state of the stations at Timperley, Brooklands or Sale. I couldn't recognise any difference in service after the reopening. They may as well not have bothered.

AncoatsManMarch 17th 2008.

These are easily the worst ticket machines in the world. I used to live at the Quays and one of the reasons for moving into town was to avoid the horrible, stressful fumble with the machines. Stagecoach should try feeding notes in while the tram is sat at the platform and be ashamed at the frequency of rejection.I hope these new machines enable you to pay for more than one person at a time too. Group of four of you? Feed a tenner in. Try again. Try again. Accepted. Chucks out 8 pound coins in change. Try another ticket. Chucks out the coins. Oh. My. God.

BecksMarch 17th 2008.

Was on the Met a few weeks ago and thought i was witnesing three grown blokes bullying a young exchange student for his £10. Then i realised it was the big fat ginger inspector who is always swearing at passengers and has got to be the nastiest man in Manchester. Don't know if they were formerly working, but they represented GMPTE so poorly i was ashamed for Manchester. I do not think plain clothes inspectors are acceptable for until i realised who the men were, i was actually quite scared.

floramMarch 17th 2008.

I had such an experience as well and I m really happy u put that out in the open! tckt machines at Salford metrolink did not work really early in the morning weekday and with me there were at lesat more people. none of us could bye a tckt, so we all decided to get on the mtro and in the next stop, boom!the inspectors "caught us" and although they could see different individuals that were not friends or even knew each other telling them about the incident they made us feel and treated us as criminals with the phrase" pay or walk!!" and so I did in the rain with no money for a taxi!!!and feeling sooooooo insulted!!!

Metrolink AvoiderMarch 17th 2008.

It seems that 20p and 5p pieces cause the machines most trouble for me. There's a cunning 'flick' technique I've developed; put the coin a third of the way in and press down hard. The coin should fire into the slot at quite a speed, which seems to make a difference.Then you can hop on to the stinking contraption with grime-covered walls, scratched windows and threadbare seating and ponder whether it'll grind around the next corner without stopping or just judder to a halt if the weather is cold.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

The best thing to happen to the tram system over the last few years, was the replacement bus service during the track repairs. The buses were regular, tickets could be purchased on the bus and it was possible to get a seat. Can't we have this service in addition to the metrolink?

AdrienMarch 17th 2008.

I use the metrolink from Harbour City every day, that machine is off at least once a week but when it is taking change I find that if you lick the coin first it will go through(I'm sure this is medically unsound advice) I have on several occassions (when the machine is not working and I don't have time to run down to Anchourage)paid by credit card using my phone but this has caused me several problems including being given incorrect codes and being overcharged, However on a recent occassion I attempted to pay by credit card and was processing payment details as the tram arrived, I got onto the tram only to be told by the operator at the end of my phone that I had committed an offence by traveling without a valid ticket, following which they hung up. So no matter how honest you are it's going to cost you.Add to this the frequently late or missing services, the unacceptable breakdowns,the lack of real-time information, the over-crowding, the 40 minutes it takes to make a supposed 12 minute journey and the over zealous (too fat for the Police) ticket inspectors) and you're well on you way to "having a nice day" I would like to raise however the number of people that rely on this mode of transport to get to their place of employment, who inturn directly invest in the service and the city of Manchester itself. The same people who are made frequently late by it's inefficiencies. I'm sure that there may well be an element of urban myth here but I frequently hear about people who have lost their jobs and more frequently over-hear individuals pleading apologies to their employers customers and clients. I feel that a key opportunity to take the opperator to task over its performance is being ignored.40% of complaints over just one aspect of its service? GMPTE bite the bullet! Stagecoach tendered for the service, they even had a man on the inside to make sure they got the contract. Now start enforcing measures against the operator to ensure compliance.£3billion Transport Innovation Monies are not the answer especially if the intent is to heard more people into the hands of the Sherrif of Nottingham (sorry) Stagecoach. Nor should the money be used to prop up a private company with little regard for it's end user.I'm seriously considering ditching the Metrolink and driving into town each day, I am being offered subsidised parking by my employer to do this. The irony is that should I do this I will be taking up to 4 passengers a day off the network - so what, in the scale of things what impact will that have. But if a few of us regulars, who talk to each other at the sation each day, started to do the same, people will soon workout for themselves that the price of 1 car parked in town for the day is up to 40% less than 4 people getting the metrolink. I know which I'd chose, even with the proposed congestion charge it would be cheaper. Now that can't make sense to anyone can it?

Jonathan Schofield - EditorMarch 17th 2008.

Dear Sprout, I'm writing it today. Will be up by tomorrow.Jonathan

Council LeaderMarch 17th 2008.

I understand peoples problems with the metrolink machines, I suggest that everyone takes to the roads, in their own cars. I will ensure that we introduce congestion charging and drop your council tax in return. We dont need public transport, lets all get on the roads....in fact, hang on, hows about we all get out of our cars and get on the tram, we can eliminate council tax and congestion charges if I arrange for the council to buy back Metrolink and make sure everyone pays the fines....ya dancer, jackpot, that'll see me into power again next time round!!

johnthebriefMarch 17th 2008.

I love the idea of inspectors issuing tickets on the trams. How will they get on at rush hour, and how will they move about the carriage to check and issue the tickets. You can't move or breathe for the crush. Obviously, at dead of night when there's nobody using the service they run double length trams.....

Miss MMarch 17th 2008.

Hmmmmmmm......I don't have time to read every post, but after a quick scan I dind't notice any positive tram related stories or people that LOVE the Metrolink! To think we could face a congestion charge for improvements to our system! Will it actually improve the current system at all??? Or will it just go to further substandard Metrolink lines across Great Manchester that will no doubt not be ready in time and still cram commuters in like sardines when the tram is only 3 stops out from it's departure point! There is no way congestion charging can be introduced before a top class transport system is in place for the whole region. Otherwise it's ripping off "average Joe" AS ALWAYS!

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

Having used the metrolink for the past four years, travelling from Eccles to Manchester I can confirm that on many occasions the ticket machines at Ladywell station arer also very unreliable. Fortunately for me I have a season ticket but friends who I travel with regularly experience the ticket machine rejecting coins and notes. Although there are machines on either side of the station only one takes notes. One other issue is that when you ring metrolink to advise that you are unable to obtain a ticket, because the mahcines are not working properly, they ask you to give credit or debit card details over the phone to purchase a ticket. This is unstaisfactory particularly when you are stood on the platform, or sat on the tram, with everyone listening to your card details etc. There is enough credit/debit card scams going on as it is, why would I want to let everyone around me know my details?

Jonathan Schofield - editorMarch 17th 2008.

Thank you for these comments and for your thoughts Pat. But re your last comment, that's not strictly the case. Lots of people have contacted us directly for action - as well as through these posts. I've now sent questions and suggestions arising from them to Stagecoach and GMPTE and they are going to get back to me, so we can put up a follow-up story on Wednesday. These refer to the ticket machines and the operational use and courtesy of inspectors. Depending on the replies we'll then see where we take it.

EleanorMarch 17th 2008.

I was recently in Sheffield where Stagecoach also operate the tram system. Tickets were bought on the tram (which were of a far higher class than Manchester's) from a conductor, who also gave us much needed directions in a rough part of town.Would it not make sense to transfer this operating practice here and do away with the ticket machines entirely?It would also provide security for passengers and drivers, who would not have to work alone and therefore feel too threatened to confront anti-social behaviour.

ItsAConMarch 17th 2008.

why bother speeding up the installation of new machines, which will cost money, when the old ones make them so much money in fines? It is not economic sense for stagecoach to shell out all that dosh for a new machine, when the old one can make them nearly 200% more by refusing to accept payment, making the commuter travel without a ticket and thereafter get fined by some jobsworth who is undoubedtly on the minimum wage. If I was stagecoach, I would abandon the machines altogether and just fine people. instant profit!

Drew PeacockMarch 17th 2008.

Isn't it about time we got into the 21st century. Why can't we pay via mobile phone etc?..or have an integrated card like the Oyster card in London Village?

Clegg-but-no-relation-to-my-tram-hoppin'-hobo-father-PaulMarch 17th 2008.

Johnthebrief is spot on. What is needed is too radical for anyone to really achieve. You'd think that anyone (e.g. our government) who can invade a sovereign state and get involved in at least 5 wars over recent years could wrest the train companies back from the owners. But no: why should they? They obviously don't use trains on a regular basis and ignore the fact that millions suffer daily on inadequate transport systems. How can it be cheaper to drive to London in a car rather than travel by train by a factor of about 3?

TommoMarch 17th 2008.

Class. At least I won't look like a right tool doing that

DickensMarch 17th 2008.

The Metrolink system needs a major overhaul but a short term measure would be to put inspectors who could issue tickets back on the trams. I counted twelve of the rude current inspectors mugging people at G-Mex the other day. I wonder if there were twelve tram units on the system right then. One could have been in each tram, issuing tickets and looking after security. That's a simple administrative change that would create much better relations between customers and Stagecoach.

cllr.pat karneyMarch 17th 2008.

Offered to lead a delegation about these crap machines but not ONE person has contacted me.Internet moans and rants are great but they ain't going to change the world without action.

treeMarch 17th 2008.

the only good thing about the metrolink ticketmachines and system as a whole is when they take your money, issue your ticket and then spit you money back out at you, this has happened a total of say 10 times since i was a girl. Sometimes they give you backmore then you put in arrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ha ha..... and i never feel guilty because they get what they deserve ha

hellersdadMarch 17th 2008.

Let's face it Metrolink is a crap system and GMPTE try and talk it up to being something superb. Stagecoach have made it even worse. The Italian trams are clapped out, the stations are disgusting and those wonderful Metrolink people even make sure you have to run down the platform 'cos they can't arrange for the trams to stop under the covered section, wonderful when it's pissing down with rain!

sproutMarch 17th 2008.

so what happened to the promised reaction from Stagecoach/GMPTE?

BenMarch 17th 2008.

Yet another example of how we have been sold up the swanney regarding public transport in this country. Private companies have no incentive except to make money and the idea that they will invest to improve the service if it doesn't mean more dosh for them is risible. I travel in Europe on a regular basis and our situation (not just in manc but UK wide) is a f**king joke

Just a little bit moreMarch 17th 2008.

I propose that we all boy cot the tram for 1 day (hit them in the pocket, instead of us the mere mortals they laughingly call passengers)I would willingly take a days leave to remind the egotistical t**ats how much they need us Why O why do we let them get away with it, Every rant is more or less saying the same thing its time for action.And the reason i feel this way is i work part time afternoons only so for me to buy a pass is pointless but 1 day when i had my ticket checked i had mistakenly keep the previous days ticket and thrown away the ticket for that day ( oops ) I had my details taken on a platform at night (a female on my own) and told to pay a fine.I then wrote a letter to Metrolink explaining obviously did not read the letter because the letter i got back suggested that i buy a pass (******* *****)So from here we go from a £3 fare to a court fine £150.00 to a bailiffs charge £367.00That really was Dick Turpin Riding the Stagecoach

EmmaMarch 17th 2008.

A little tip for coins which the machine won't accept is to throw them on the floor & stamp on them, then try putting them in again.

AlexMarch 17th 2008.

I have written to Metrolink several times to complain about this. It makes me IRATE. On one particular occasion, almost identical to the one described above, I was told I should have called Customer Services when I couldn't pay for a ticket, given out my credit card details over the phone and they would have 'cleared' me for travel. I pointed out that this was a ridiculous alternative that would severely compromise the security of my credit card details - it was 8am and in the midst of rush hour after all!! Metrolink's ticketing is a joke. And, while I'm ranting, so is the Eccles line. I had to wait 30 mins this morning for one tram, so I was late for my first meeting. And I had decided to take the tram to avoid sitting in the car and contributing to pollution and horrendous traffic...Back in the car tomorrow I'm afraid.

Clegg-but-no-relation-to-my-tram-hoppin'-hobo-father-PaulMarch 17th 2008.

Lumme. The way things are going, we ought to be looking to The Manchester Confidential Peoples's Voice Party to be elected to the council to represent the voice of the people. And to get things done.

Mark Garner, The PublisherMarch 17th 2008.

OK, this is clearly one for a meeting as well as the gardens. I shall have a word with Schofield and you, Pat, to see what is the best way for the readers to make their voices heard ewven more vociferously. I will post next Tuesday with the ideas for everyone to comment on.

prettygirlsmakegravesMarch 17th 2008.

I don't use the tram, but I know people who do. These people are not poor. These people do not pay. These people do not care, they are simply too lazy to walk/drive and too tight to pay, although they will happily lunch in spinningfields and get their bits in M&S. Get our metrolink back on track. Please.

EmmaMarch 17th 2008.

If Metrolink are getting new machines can I suggest that they provide ones with a Oyster card type facility & also barriers so that the many people without tickets cannot travel. I also think it would be useful to introduce a young persons rate - if the tickets weren't so expensive teenagers might consider buying one. At the moment it is cheaper to never pay for a ticket & just pay the £10 fine when you get caught. They could have a weekend ticket for £2. I feel really sorry for commuters who have to pay £4.50 a day to force themselves onto cramped trams every morning when they are subsidising most of the weekend travellers whose tickets rarely get checked. On Saturday 2 girls got off the tram after 1 stop when they saw about 10 inspectors on the platform(who didn't ask to see their tickets as they got off). Also, while we're on trams, why shouldn't Man United contribute something to Manchester & their fans by paying for some extra trams. It wouldn't be much money to them to buy 4 new trams which they could brand & these could run inbetween normal trams on match days to collect fans & then the other trams could miss out the Old Trafford & Trafford Bar stops.

AdrienMarch 17th 2008.

Given the extensive debate that has taken place on this site regarding public transport in Manchester I thought this might be of interest to you all.Please take a minute to sign the petition set up on the number 10 website.Poor transport links and fear of anti social behaviour on buses and metrolinkcontribute to social isolation.The introduction of a system where transport companies would effectively bid to tender would mean that the main focus is on the quality of service, and not a drive for profits.The petition explains in greater detail, but thought this would give you a little taster to coax you onto the website.http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/manchesterbuses/It would be great if you could send this link on to anyone you thinkmight be interested.Thank you very much for your help.

ancoats girlMarch 17th 2008.

Tipster is right, I have phoned customer services on several occasions when the machines would not take my money and they gave me a special code to quote to the inspectors. I was relieved at the time but it's not ideal. You do have to really push for it on the phone - and it's no good to anyone without a phone or credit to hand.One of the reasons I quit a job in Salford Quays was due to the crap Eccles line and having to change at Cornbrook, where I was nearly assaulted once by a man with alcohol and mental health problems. The station's lack of staff was scary. I also hated going home on matchdays, it was very uncomfortable and intimidating.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

Why not just never bother buying a ticket, then when they catch you - opt for the £20 fine giving the wrong name and address stating that you have no formal identification on you. That way, you will always travel for free.

sarahMarch 17th 2008.

The whole public transport situation in Manchester needs sorting at. Yes the trams are abysmal and I would never get to work on time if i relied on them. So I now ge the bus but as the same number bus is ran by different companies at dofferent times of day there is no saving pass I can by for the week. Why in London can you buy a pass that covers you for ALL buses (even the all night ones in the early hours) and all tubes. Yet I have to buy a ticket everytime I get on a bus or tram..Sort it out Manchester! Phew..I have wanted to get that off my chest for some time!!

cllr.pat karneyMarch 17th 2008.

Right thats all the moaning (including me)Who's up for joining me on a delegation to see Stagecoach about these machines.Or drop me your specific complaint/crap machine at the Town Hall( check the web site) NOW IS THE TIME FOR ACTION.

JohnMarch 17th 2008.

I used to live in Stretford and found the Metro pretty useful however on match days at Manchester United it was impossible to get in or out either by car or tram for long periods. Manchester United should be compelled to pay for extra trams, after all they are making huge sums of money out of their business ( and yes, that's exactly what it is, a business). However, what was the council's mealy mouthed response to the situation? make the residents pay for parking permits

tipsterMarch 17th 2008.

little tip if machine not working which in salford keys seems to happen a lot, phone the helpline, they take your details and give you a magic number to quote in case you get accosted by the very unfriendly ticket nazis, another tip for coins is to pop them in your mouth, them not very hygienic but it works

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

i bought a monthly ticket, put it in my wallet, slung my coat on the radioator and the writing on the ticket disappeared. i complained to the office and was told i had to buy another one! i wrote to complain in december (after being redirected around every imaginable department) and have yet to receive a reply.the trams are so overcrowded i routinely have to watch 7 or 8 pass before i can board (stretford stop) and am frequently 30 or 40 minutes late for work (a problem i never had travelling from wigan by train).

JohnMarch 17th 2008.

I once paid for my ticket on a machine at Mosley Street but it didn't come out. Phoned the helpline who told me to "give it a good bang" and hey presto! I was happy but no wonder they're all breaking down now if that's how we're told to treat them...

Simple SimonMarch 17th 2008.

"Metrolink should provide reliable ticket machines." Yes, they should. They should also train their front line staff in the fine art of customer service. I've been in the same situation as your man Clegg. I also explained my problem, requested they check cctv and allow me to pay the correct fair but no, they wanted to fine me 10 notes, which I refused to pay, I also refused to give them my details for the fine, requesting again that they check the cctv and allow me to pay the correct fair as attempted, or summon the police to deal with me. (As far as I know metrolink staff don't actually have no right to detain us, or demand personal details without legal backing (can anyone with legal knowledge correct me there?).). Anyway, I paid the correct fair in the end. If you're honest don't give up!

johnthebriefMarch 17th 2008.

The state of the tram system is a disgrace, but we can't complain because it's a result of the actions of a democraticlaly elected government who've diverted its funding. I'll happily bet that Stagecoach are within the terms of their contract and will stick a polite two fingers up at any delegation unless it's carrying a bag of additional cash. The tram system is over-priced, filthy, unreliable, and patrolled by pocket bullies who do nothing to tackle genuine anti social behavious but chase their ticket quotas with easy targets. Councillor Karney, if you can do anything to improve matters then fair play to you, and I might even vote for you as well, if you sort out the disgraceful reduction in on street parking as well.

Simple SimonMarch 17th 2008.

No offence Cllr, but there's a heap of other things I'd like you to concentrate on first. The state of city centre parking perhaps

MUST DO BETTER!!!!!!March 17th 2008.

2 things on the metro-link - 1. notes are a no go and why they can't install a card reader like the NCP stations in the next 3 months shows they don't give a sh1t. 2. Integrated transport of manchester my ar5e. I gave up my car recently - I'd like to think its because i'm being a little greener but mainly due to cost and the awful residents parking in the city. On my bike I go to the dentist in Stretford using the metro link for the main part (live in piccadilly). The annoying (and funny) part was I got there with my bike but was refused back on when returning at stretford. I actually enjoyed the ride home but could ill afford it with work. Sure, no peak time bikes on board I understand but why on earth we are the 'green city' and you can't take your bike on the tram is silly. Get yourself sorted GMPTE

squishedcommuterMarch 17th 2008.

i just want to agree with virtually everything on here-crap machines/rude inspectors/cramped conditions- the list goes on for quite some time! i would rant but i simply cant be bothered as i end up moaning about it all the time anyway! it cant be that hard to sort these problems out!

MarkMarch 17th 2008.

I saw ticket inspectors throw off a twenty something girl for not managing to get a ticket machine to accept her money. Understandable (ish), except when you realise that she was on her own, it was half past twelve on a Friday night, and she was being chucked off onto a completely deserted G-Mex platform. She offered to get off and try the machines at G-Mex, but the tram doors closed and off we went, leaving her to deal with whoever came by. Luckily it wasn't the last tram, but judging by the inspector's attitude I'm sure the inspectors would have had no quarms about leaving her on her own if it had been. Barcelona's underground system has a 10 journey ticket, so that might be an idea, they would just need a validating date stamper on the platform.

Jonathan Schofield - editorMarch 17th 2008.

Sorry folks, I know a few of you are waiting for the follow-up article. Well I've had to postpone it until the 28 April. I've just got one last detail to confirm and then we can go.

Council Deputy LeaderMarch 17th 2008.

In fact council leader, lets give free parking for everyone using the tram and driving a silver or blue car? They make the streets look so much better. I think we should also introduce parking fines for dirty cars?

russellMarch 17th 2008.

i cant bear the metro link! recently my visiting elderly mother used the tram for the very first time, having only a twenty pound note, she asked the tram inspector could she she pay on board! The butch woman inspector ignored my mother and walked away! My mum then just got on the tram and low and behold the butch inspector came up to her straight away! didnt ask for the ticket, just demanded the fine!

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

The trams are a complete joke.. if you are regular traveller just buy a pass its much easier and not hard to do so most of this article is just a waste of space.. why not spend the money for machines on an extra tram the morning and evening peak trams are so full it makes the London underground look spacious

not a fan of metrolinkMarch 17th 2008.

I've just got back from London and using their underground system really makes our trams look like a joke. I know they have been in place much longer, but surely why not use some of their ideas to speed things up? Oyster cards and ticket barriers would be a better way of managing the system. They're trialing it at Oxford Road so surely it can't be too far in the future for the trams to have these installed?

SharonMarch 17th 2008.

Dear anonymous, you can't use mime on posting pages.

AnonymousMarch 17th 2008.

As a regular tram commuter, the journey to work involves squashing onto a tram carriage, travelling under someone's armpit with my face pressed against the glass, being bashed by rucksacks. This is after havng battled with the ticket machines which regularly refuse to accept 5p's or 20p's or anything less than perfect notes. I travel from Stretford where it is nearly impossible to get onto the tram in the morning and the two machines on the Manchester bound platform are regularly out of service.

Clegg-but-no-relation-to-my-tram-hoppin'-hobo-father-PaulMarch 17th 2008.

It's high time that Stagecoach got tough on these potential fare dodgers. Get rid of the inspectors and start fining people on-line before they've even got on a tram station for even THINKING about possibly travelling without a ticket...

Clegg-but-no-relation-to-my-tram-hoppin'-hobo-father-PaulMarch 17th 2008.

It might have had a fair call on being Europe's most advanced passenger etc, if they were using Berlin mid-1945 as a template.

Clegg-but-no-relation-to-my-tram-hoppin'-hobo-father-PaulMarch 17th 2008.

Expecting Stagecoach to speed up the introduction of new, working ticket machines would mean them having to put their hands in their pocket before they'd banked their expected share of profit. It's typical of the way that transport is treated in this country: not as a service but as something from where some company or other can make extortionate profits while their "customers" have to cope with late trains or trams, and general all round bad service. I can't believe that Stagecoach came into this wanting to change how transport is delivered to customers inManchester by using their vast experience of efficiently running networks around the U.K. but because the initial contract fees were so low and they could smell vast profits for very little investment. That's how a fully-integrated and fairly priced, effective transport system works in this country nowadays. the fact that inspectors ignore apparently homeless-looking types is an indication that they are less about attending to law-breaking but more to extracting more from those who they see can pay.

Bex from AltiMarch 17th 2008.

hummm... So according to GMPTE & Metrolink the tracks were repaired and station platforms upgraded last summer...Really?! I used to travel on the Alti line in town most days, and I don't know 'bout anybody else but I found the ride just as uncomfortable, the Ticket Machines just as s**t and the whole service as shocking as ever!!! Something has to be done - second capital?! Not with a shockingly bad service like the met!

rachel gMarch 17th 2008.

public transport sucks seriously bad in this country all over... its far too expensive (trams especially)( you cant get on them when theres a queue) and the staff do single out the law abiding and have a fear of approaching the alcoholics/homeless/aggresive looking people who are making bus shelters and tram stops places you really dont want to go near and those people dont pay and get away with it blatently. The No 1 misery of my life!!! (ahhh its good to rant)

Simple SimonMarch 17th 2008.

I find few things encourage car use more than the state of public transport in our fair city.

MetrostinkMarch 17th 2008.

Fair play simple Simon, doesn't sound like you're that simple. Metrolink is a disgrace and for Stagecoach to try and say that their ticket machines are all hunky dory is ridiculous.I was on metrolink once and a really elderly gentleman got on (presumably before travel was free on metrolink, it is free isn't it?)Anyway, I saw him get a ticket and get on to the train. Some inspectors got on and they wanted to see the ticket. Now this old gent couldn't find his ticket and rather than treating this man with dignity and respect they acted as if he was a young thug who had just breached his asbo rather than a lovely old man who was clearly getting distressed at their disgusting attitude. Being me, I got involved and told them that I had seen them get his ticket and they should treat him with a bit of respect. They said he didn't have a ticket, so I handed him mine and said now he does, so what are you going to do to me?Luckily for both of us, we were coming into victoria where we were both getting on. They threatened me with the police and I said fine, and said if they got the police by the time I was out of the station I would be only too happy to speak to them. Then one of the inspectors told me to "just f*** off" and I wished him a good day and helped the old duffer out of the station. We had a bit of a laugh about it, but it was pretty much unacceptable to treat people so badly.

johnthebriefMarch 17th 2008.

Is the purpose of the metrolink to (a) provide public transport or (b) extort as much cash as possible from the public. I've got an idea I know what Stagecoach's view is....

WALK AWAYMarch 17th 2008.

the ONLY people that can stop you and ask for details are the POLICE. If you do get caught on the met just simply walk to the exit. If they touch you then inform them that you will press for assualt!! or just twat them...and claim self defence. Three finger prod straight on the adams apple is the best way to take someone down. mwahahahaha 'your mum must be so proud'.

DylanMarch 17th 2008.

I asked an engineer about the machines - he said 'These machines are all useless all of them are faulty and have been for some time, only 4 of them accross the system take the New £20 note and people almost daily are getting hit with fines because they are fed up with the fact £20 notes, 5p, and 50p not working. Its a shambles and has been for years' he said....I have been told by POLICE to get off at a station I was not familiar with before today to get change of a £20 note in the rain, for change 'that works' in the machines. I give Metrolink £3.50 a day for a service which is not cheap. Why is it so Bad? When they have a delay they all ways tell you AFTER you have bought a ticket - sometimes I then have to get a Taxi... after giving my ticket money. The stations in North Manchester are Dark, Scruffy and unsafe, If I was a lady I certainly would not use it where I live - as it is regularly taken over by intimidating,cannabis smoking teenage asian gangs. Where are the Metrolink Customer Service'Bouncers' then? No of course they are only interested in chasing School kids at 8.45am up and down the tram stopping it and making me late for work. Having recently passed my driving test I am now looking forward to a life without the Tram. Yeeha! - I even get a black cab now to Old Trafford with pals rather than plan to get to and from Footy on a Saturday, that also is a badly organised shambles... London Underground is superior by far.

smartiemcrMarch 17th 2008.

These machines have hardly been changed since 1992, they are an absolute disgrace! Every time I visit Germany I almost cry in shame - their systems are vastly superior to ours in every way and are so much cheaper and more efficient. We are complete suckers in the country for putting up with it. I quite frequently get in my (low-emission I hasten to add) car instead of taking the tram, because it's cheaper to run, I can get a seat(!) and don't have to listen to scallies taking Kylie Minogue's songs too literally and "playing in on their speakerphone!" The trouble with this country is we all whinge but very few really kick up a fuss and complain effectively, in writing, to the newspapers and the transport companies. We expect it to be cr*p so we just put up with it.We are the laughing stock of Europe when it comes to public transport.

cassonMarch 17th 2008.

recently moving to an area away from the metrolink route is the best thing that has happened to me recently. i now take a bus into work and they run regularly at a reasonable price (run by First Network)the metrolink is an absolute joke. especially the eccles line, which was superb at making me late with little or no explanation almost daily. the altrincham line fares little better. the inspectors are rude, beligerant troglodytes and the customer services worse than useless.good riddance to awful sh1t.

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