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Metrolink and violence

Jonathan Schofield and part one of an interview with Metrolink boss, Peter Cushing, this time it's security

Written by . Published on April 30th 2008.

Metrolink and violence

So this is how it goes. Julie Pickford, 47, gets on an Altrincham bound tram. She complains to a group of thirty teenagers about one of their number throwing popcorn at another passenger, a girl punches her and the rest join in. She's kicked, punched and thrown off by the mob. Her eye socket is broken and her money stolen. The tram rumbles on, the driver aware of what's happened and phoning ahead for assistance. A girl is later arrested.

A month ago Confidential published an article highlighting the useless ticket machines on the Metrolink system. Hundreds of readers responded agreeing with the points raised. Others singled out other problems.

One hue and cry was about security and the operational use of the inspectors. Many people seemed to feel that with the driver isolated in his cab, and the inspectors only sighted in clumps of ten or more at particular stations, there was in effect no security.

Following the comments Confidential secured an interview with the Metrolink director at GMPTE (Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive), Peter Cushing. It was a comprehensive interview so this time we’re going to take a look at what he said about security on the system and the allocation of inspectors. Next week we’ll look at what he said about the attitude of those inspectors, the ticket machines and how he thinks Metrolink compares to other systems in Europe.

We've done this in question and answer form: JS is Jonathan Schofield and PC is Peter Cushing. And remember the interview was conducted before the Julie Pickford incident.

JS Let's talk about security. People really worry about travelling on trams at certain times, they feel that the driver is isolated in his cab and they are alone in the carriage with any loony who might get on. Why don't you put an inspector on every tram that's going up and down the system?

PC Because we don't have a bottomless pit of money.

JS That isn't a bottomless pit it's a finite one, it just takes some calculations, re-assessments.

PC It would need a lot of extra funding. Currently we have fifty four inspectors and that number is going to rise to seventy four by the middle of this year. What we're trying to do is use people smarter rather than flood the network with inspectors. There are areas we’ve identified with fares aversion where we concentrate people. But at peak times inspectors on trams just can't get through them. And that's when we see people seeing ten or eleven inspectors in one place, checking everybody on and off the tram.

JC But if you use the system, it feels GMPTE are making decisions without regard to how the passengers actually feel about it. The best thing for Metrolink is if the system is welcoming, safe and feels that way.

PC Of course. At all times we're looking at the passengers first. By increasing the number of inspectors, we're giving ourselves the ability to use them across the whole operating time on Metrolink, so it won't just be peak hours. There'll be inspectors travelling out on the system late in the evening, which should make the system feel safe.

JS Well, that's a start. But at Confidential we feel that you have to go further. We think that you need an inspector on each tram, who could also sell tickets and get extra revenue, pay for themselves maybe. Is that impossible?

PC It's a very expensive resource to put into place.

JS But if it makes happier travelling for the tram public - and that as you said is your priority - then maybe you should consider it. Safety fears on Metrolink are a huge issue for travellers at the moment.

PC The surveys from Metrolink travellers tell us that by and large they are happy with the security of Metrolink in comparison to other modes of transport.

JS Do you use the system?

PC I do, frequently.

JS Late, at night?

PC I use the system at all times. What we're doing by getting additional inspectors is giving ourselves the ability to spread security throughout all hours. We're also investing in CCTV on the trams so what we'll be able to review CCTV tapes and use them for evidence.

JS Yes, but people have already been mugged by then. If you're getting punched you don't give a damn about CCTV, you don't think good, they're going to get arrested later and all this will have been worth it. There is an over-reliance on CCTV. Surely what you need is the physical presence of inspectors on the trams, you need to reclaim them back, from people who think it's security free, you need to stop trouble before it starts?

PC I take your point and I assure you, we're trying to make the system as safe as we possibly can. But I repeat to put inspectors on every tram would be colossally expensive.

So that was our little ding-dong about security. To be fair to Peter Cushing he faced up to the questions directly and didn’t try to avoid questions. The increase in inspectors is to be welcomed at least, but we stick by our suggestion for an inspector on every tram. The system needs to be seen to be policed by inspectors trained in customer service and how to deal with difficult situations.

Metrolink also shows us the limits of CCTV as a preventative measure. We may catch Julie Pickford's attackers from the pictures taken. But the lack of any presence of inspectors on the system, the ease by which people can travel ticket free, has encouraged some people to think they can do what they like on it. They seem not to give a damn about CCTV.

After the interview GMPTE sent a note showing their recent approval rating from passengers. It was 94%. This is odd because the approval rating from our readers is apparently zero. After the attack on Julie Pickford, it might now be less than zero if such a thing were possible. Perhaps large parts of the way Metrolink is managed needs re-thinking.

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

Ed GlinertApril 30th 2008.

After reading all these extraordnary stories about the uselessness of Metrolink I'm beginning to think I was too easy on the system in The Manchester Compendium. I was also highly critical of Metrolink in my Private Eye articles when it started in the early 90s. I said that it did little the old rail lines did and that the myriad of extensions would never be built. (There's new track to Eccles -wow! - where the stops are lengthy walks from the Lowry and no lines as promised to the Trafford Centre or Eastlands.)I said that the open access/voluntary ticket system would lead to dangerous stations and violent vehicles and was roundly condemned by Metrolink. I have been proved right. There is absolutely no reason why they can't sell tickets on the tram or revamp the stations with barriers and staff like at Oxford Road. It's not money stopping them but a basic lack of interest in serving the public.If they did this the thugs would no longer be able to hang around the stations, and the anti-social behaviour leading to worse would drop off. Perhaps only when someone is murdered after telling a "youth" to turn off his radio will Metrolink act.Why are the councils involved and local MPS not making this a priority, demanding meetings with the Metrolink managers (with some passenger representatives present) and raising these concerns? It is one of the most important issues in Manchester. Come on Leese! Come on Karney! Come on Beverley Hughes! Our only hope is pressure from Manchester Confidential.

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

I'm in fully agreement with you Mr.T (for starters, who would argue with Mr.T!?)I was just commenting that it's out of order. But as we already know - Metrolink don't give two hoots about their customers

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

I agree completely with your point about the inspectors needing to be trained in customer service. They not willing to listen to passengers when there is a problem with ticket machines, trouble causers on the trams etc. And the staff on the other end of the phone at Metrolink are just as bad – if not worse. With regards to this figure of 92% of users being happy. I ‘d like to know what days, and what time of day the surveys took place. And more importantly, I’d like to know how the surveys were carried out (face to face on the platform/by comment cards/internet etc). I feel that all of these factors would make a difference to the results…

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

Come on mate!

Andy FowlerApril 30th 2008.

I note from recent weeks on Manchester Confidential that Ed Glinert does not like being contradicted - but in the interests of accuracy, in the pre-tram days, the British Rail Victoria-Bury line operated only on Mon-Sat. And is five minutes that long a walk to the Lowry from the tram stop at Harbour City? And while I've no wish to defend Metrolink, the track on the Altrincham line was replaced last year.

SpefflesApril 30th 2008.

I think they under-estimate the level of the problem. Ive been on a late night tram where an argument between some passengers resulted in someone pulling a knife and forcing all the passengers down the tram to avoid him. People were very frightened. It was my bad luck that the argument then spilled out at my stop with one group chasing the others down the street. There were no police around, the police station was closed, and I felt very unsafe.

KarenApril 30th 2008.

I hope Mcr Confidential is going to let that tosser J. Cushing have a copy of all these rants. 94% satisfaction rate with the system? I'm sick of shysters in suits treating us like half-wits. No respect for the people of Manchester, that's the problem. Money money lovely money.That's all JC and his motley crew are bothered about. Watch out for soundbites like 'drawing a line' and 'learning lessons' when something really drastic happens. Do we need a Gary Newlove incident to happen before passengers are taken seriously, treated with respect and LISTENED TO.Bollocks to your dodgey 94% satisfaction rate.

OutsiderApril 30th 2008.

The issue of people fare-dodging should really have been sorted out in the planning stages. What did they expect from our scroatage population? There are plenty of examples of metro systems all over the world where measures are in place to make sure that people have to pay before they physically get on the tram. Why didn't they just put in some turnstiles to get on to the platform - swipe a prepaid card/barcoded pass and go! A classic case of scrimping and saving at the outset costing more later on...

Kev PApril 30th 2008.

You're absolutely right Ed, we need to put pressure on local politicians to make this a bigger issue. The reason that Metrolink haven't acted so far is because no one has made a stink about it! There definitely needs to be a campaign to highlight the issue and I'll be speaking to my locally elected representatives! Everyone else should do the same!

Jonathan Schofield - editorApril 30th 2008.

Just waiting for those little updates...sorry

AnonymousApril 30th 2008.

Why cant the driver shout dynamite down his radio. Give his location to a mobile team of security that will promptly attend with bats and bring the rif raf to justice. Its not rocket science. security in supermarkets abroad have bats.

Jonathan Schofield - editorApril 30th 2008.

Dear Razz and Kev P, can we stop calling each other names now please? This is a serious subject and this level of personal abuse is inappropriate.

AnonymousApril 30th 2008.

70 conductors. Say they earn £20k a year, that;s £1.4m. The TiF bid will bring in £3bn for public transport infrastructure if successful, and the Metrolink extension gets £1.2bn (ish) of that. Surely £1m could be spared from this vast kitty to almost double the number of conductors?

AnonymousApril 30th 2008.

This is not just a Metrolink problem it is a societal problem when groups feel that an appropriate response is to physically attack someone if they pass comment on their inappropriate behaviour.How busy was this tram too, could a group of people not be rallied to help Julie Pickford? To be honest I don't know how brave I would be to help out but this is primarily because I don't believe others would make a stand with me.

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

Hang on.. Editor, can you delete my last comment? For some reason, the first sentence didn't appear! I meant to sayWhilst on my way out last night at 7.30pm, there were at least 10 inspectors on the platform at Piccadilly Gardens The system isn't even that busy at that time. Why did they all get positioned there, rather than spread out along the line??”

Common TaterApril 30th 2008.

JS, top article...two points... i)PC cites funding, resources etc as a reason not to include inspectors on trams, so how come every now and again (using GMEX as the example), there's approx 10 inspectors accompanied by numerous guys and gals in Blue, to police fare dodgers - surely a waste of man power?ii) I'm convinced (as flagged in my email to you JS) that tram drivers purposely close doors on people just about to get on the tram. I'm sure a visit to their staff room would reveal a 'how many did you mug of today' chart and they give out prizes to the weekly winner. Someone will get hurt.

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

The joke is that Metrolink don’t seem to know when basic events are happening in Manchester. United matches, big concerts etc – There’s not enough trams out on the lines. Why doesn’t somebody in their planning office know about these events?And why do the inspectors check tickets at peak times, when most of the users are city centre workers who actually have season tickets etc?

JJ SalfordApril 30th 2008.

I would be intrigued to know how many Trams are running on the system at any one time ? On a basis of the trams running 6am to Midnight (18hr Day) and say two 9 hour shifts this would facilitate a permanent presence on 27 trams with the current staff and 37 by the middle of next year ! Do GMPTE own this many trams ?

Mr TApril 30th 2008.

Yeah, cause London gets the bears share of all funding and always has, the Cross Rail crap for the Olympics being the latest example.

Little Miss SunshineApril 30th 2008.

Metrolink executives should be highly ashamed of themselves. What a damning indictment, form the people who know best- the users. Manchester is constantly complaining about the threat of brain-drain- all the fine graduates we produce that don't stay in the city- but the fact is, the public transport infrastructure has not caught up with the rest of the progress the city has seen in the last 10 years. Imagine, the country's second capital, with a tram service where you are expected to carry around bags of change, pay over the odds for a substandard service and potentially be abused on the tram, and that's just by the inspectors.... Perhaps the looming c charge has given StageCoach the excuse to hold tight ont he further investment, but it is deperately needed NOW to bring this creaking system and staff mentality in line with the city's expectations and requirements.

Ali McGowanApril 30th 2008.

Peter!!! Beat me to it :) . It seems that Stagecoach is a funny beast. I live in Mcr but work in Sheffield. Their trams may not be as frequent as ours, but my god, run so much better. Correct me if I am wrong people, but don't Stagecoach now run Metrolink? And Stagecoach run Sheffield's Supertram!!! Errr... TALK TO EACH OTHER!! In Sheff they have one ticket-selling inspector per tram, no buggered ticket machines and the trams are clean - especially the refurbished ones... Metrolink is just a bit too pants for my liking. Final comment back to Peter. Ironically, if we send PC to Sheffield by train, make sure it's by First TransPennine Express (10/10) as opposed to (Stagecoach-run!!) East Midlands Trains - apart from the trains usually being on time, EMT are rubbish!

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

Quite right Kelly, this was over 8 years ago now, but I’m still holding a grudge! I’ve only used the service a few times since, and only when I’ve really needed to. And one of those times I had another ‘incident’, which I won’t bore everyone with, but it was just as ridiculous!The fact that annoyed me most was that during the numerous telephone conversations and letters, I didn’t get an apology once. I was constantly spoken to as though I was completely in the wrong, and they were doing me a favour by dismissing my penalty charge!

BlamethejudiciaryApril 30th 2008.

The trams are expensive first point, Secondly, i was disgusted to hear about the poor ex policewoman attacked the other day, i commute daily from Shudehill to Old Trafford and haven't witnessed these atrocities personally but its a question of time no doubt. I agree with Kelly 100% though. Glad someones got an idea of whats going on.....it boils down to the solicitors "churning" cases to squeeze more and more money out of the pathetic "walking abortions" who plague our society these days.....the greedy avaritic solicitors and judiciary are the root of this country's problems, the very people who should be setting the example from the top! The whole system is bent. look at ten years of Blair (ex solicitor, note) they could change the country for the better tomorrow. Most of the scum caught have "previous", and are already out on bail etc etc. Why? Since when does life mean 18 years? Hard prisons and realistic sentencing thats whats needed. If prisons are full then make sure no one wants to end up there. Make it a living hell. We need Guilliano ex-mayor of New York and get the Zero Tolerance on the streets of Manc. Simple.

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

When is the next part of this interview going up?

GarethApril 30th 2008.

Razz - have you considered a career with metrolink? you appear to have the people skills to be an inspector yourself

Andy FowlerApril 30th 2008.

I note from recent weeks on Manchester Confidential that Ed Glinert does not like being contradicted - but in the interests of accuracy, in the pre-tram days, the British Rail Victoria-Bury line operated only on Mon-Sat. And is five minutes that long a walk to the Lowry from the tram stop at Harbour City? And while I've no wish to defend Metrolink, the track on the Altrincham line was replaced last year.

Jonathan Schofield - editorApril 30th 2008.

I apologise for being rubbish, just getting a couple of updates on the interview and then it wil, cross my heart and hope to die, be up on Monday.

Lee CharltonApril 30th 2008.

Julie is a good friend of mine and it is shocking what has happened. The youth of today are out of control snd it starts with parenting / schooling. Teachers should be able to punish after all it did me no harm.

CheekyApril 30th 2008.

Kev P - you're still wrong. If it was a Manc - Liverpool return it will have said "Manchester STNS" which means you CAN'T use it on Metrolink. That ticket takes you outside GM so is priced by Northern not GMPTE. Razz is right - unless it says "Manchester CTLZ" it's not valid.

KellyApril 30th 2008.

Bigfish, I completely agree, but if I were you I'd try to sue Metrolink for your missed interview, stress, and 'loss of enjoyment' (whatever that actually means!?) caused by the situation. I am constantly appalled by the lawsuits I read in the paper presented by people who get some lawyers behind them and simply can't accept any explanation other than that they are victims of a perceived injustice. It's typical of this society (remember that woman who sued the council because she tripped over a paving stone?!). The difference is that you were actually in the right - a fact which courts blithely overlook - and therefore the case wouldn't even proceed to trial. Also, in the time that you were accosted by a number of inspectors, it's likely a pack of Frosty Jack-swilling botched abortions got on somewhere else and beat up a pensioner...good to see Metrolink is making good use of its resources.

Kev PApril 30th 2008.

Maybe that's what it ssid then. To be honest I can't remember. All I know is I've used the exact same type of ticket on the Metrolink after getting off the train on 3 separate occasions when I used to live out near Cornbrook and I actually went to an inspector at Piccadilly and checked to ask if it was ok the first time and was told it was...

Sherie from BuryApril 30th 2008.

I've used the Metrolink from Bury to Manchester since the first day it opened to commute for work. In the last 18 months I have had to call 999 three times because of violence/verbal abuse from youths against other passengers. I had to attend a Youth Court as a witness following an incident of violence against a passenger by a 'gang of thugs' (youths)- however the Youth Court outcome was a 'farce'. The three incidents I mention above occurred before 9.00 pm! One time the driver shut the door of the tram leaving the victim still being attacked on the platform (they were all female). He thought this was the safest thing to do! He only opened them when a few passengers 'banged' on his door. Security needs a complete overhaul. I have never had to complete a survey for Metrolink and wonder where their figures come from. Why is there no accessible telephone number for Security in the evening? When I have called them it has been a recorded message - hence my calls to the Police. When socialising after work and it's very late I now take a taxi home. Sorry if I have gone on a bit - cannot tell how much I have typed in the box ......and I have so much more I could say .....!

johnthebriefApril 30th 2008.

"But at peak times inspectors on trams just can't get through them." - It's good to know they are aware how appallingly crowded their system is - but they have no plan for addressing overcrowding, just more inspectors so they can check tickets as people stagger off after being crushed.

Roy Victor ParkesApril 30th 2008.

a note of scepticism about an inspector on every tram. A good idea, already in operation on local trains - but with very mixed effectiveness. Many hide away in their cabs for the whole journey. How they explain away zero cash income at the end of a run, when other operatives sign off weighed down with the stuff, I don't know. Do Northern Rail care about fare income on subsidised services? And do Metrolink?

DaveApril 30th 2008.

We need plain clothes police mingling with the passengers. Police are the only ones who can arrest and prosecute yobs. Inspectors don't have the powers. Perhaps a mayor would get police on the trams.

LeeApril 30th 2008.

As well as patently not being there for customer security I don't believe the inspectors are even trained in security or diffusing issues. If they were, why do you always see a number of police officers with the inspectors whenever they're doing a mass ticket check? Police whom the tax payers are funding, and not for the purpose of protecting Metrolink's revenue!

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

Where's the rest of the interview? I'm dying to read it!

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

The London transport system is amazing. End of story.

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

JS Do you use the system? PC I do, frequently. --------------------Bet you do mate, you don't have to bloody pay the silly prices!

Heather BeattyApril 30th 2008.

I disagree with Peters comment about not having a bottomless pit of money - at £5.20 for a daliy return ticket they are clearly racking in their revenues. The daily ticket price went up 10% after Christmas so the least Metrolink can do is increase security measures by this much. It seems to me that we are paying a scandalous price for the priviledge of a) not actually being able to get on the tram in rush hour, and b) running a high risk of being attacked on the tram at night. I think we've got a pretty rubbish deal to be honest.

SaraApril 30th 2008.

Mr T, I agree. Proposals for CCTV and an increase in the number of Inspectors on the trams is simply to increase revenue i.e. check passengers for tickets and issue fines. Watch how they come out in full force when United are playing out home, you can practically see the pound signs in their eyes. Metrolink is a shambles and they want another £3bn to improve public transport??? That'll be three billion pounds worth of backward sillies.

PeterApril 30th 2008.

Someone please send Peter Cushing a train ticket to Sheffield so he can see how a well run tram system is run.

johnthebriefApril 30th 2008.

The suggestion that GMPTE is remotely interested in the use of conductors or inspectors for purposes of security and reassuring passengers is a bad joke. They are about revenue protection and nothing else. GMPTE have shown time and again that their response to customer dissatisfaction with the service they provide is a robust two finger salute.

RobApril 30th 2008.

The deregulation of public transport has been a disaster - if only there were politicians with the courage to reverse it. Metrolink is and always has been unsafe to use, ticket inspectors are there purely to protect Metrolink's profits and are not for security. I'd reintroduce manned stations - collect ticket revenue at source and increase security. Of course Metrolink won't do this because they are not interested in passenger comfort or safety, it's purely a business.

KellyApril 30th 2008.

Bigfish, I'm surprised they even answered the phone at all! Not to belabour my point of useless lawsuits etc, I am assuming that your case wouldn't be 'sexy' enough to be taken up - and therefore get into the papers, which always seems to somehow magically award the claimant some dosh. This links in with the Anonymous posting just below...although both the transport and regular police were useless at investigating the identity of your partner's attacker, I bet you a million pounds they would have jailed the intervening driver if he/she had actually hit the attacker...justice, eh? It's a joke.

PaulApril 30th 2008.

I live in Nice. Here, we have an excellent tram system with supermodern, efficient, immaculately maintained and impressive trams. A single journey anywhere on the network costs €1 (about 80p). Furthermore, you can also use your one-way ticket to make a connection with another tram or bus within 74 minutes. France is a country that is not without its own problems of youth delinquancy and violence (although admittedly Nice is not quite as bad as Manchester), but why can the French do it so well and charge so little, when GMPTE can't do it at all for so much. It is undeniable that Metrolink is EXTORTIONATE for what you get when compared to other systems in Europe. When I was a student in Manchester I used to dread the temp agency ringing up with a call centre job in Salford Quays because the return fare from St Peter's Square was an hours pay!!!

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

Oh, and the other thing I forgot to mention – There is no way in the world that they should be allowed to extend the service to other area’s until they can successfully run the system that they currently have

Jonathan Schofield - editorApril 30th 2008.

I'll try to get it up for Friday - so to speak.

KellyApril 30th 2008.

I used to live in London, where the transport is easy - I agree it's a real bitch when something happens and the trains are delayed (I was regularly commuting between Wimbledon and Archway when there was the crash at Camden Town - making a 1 1/2 hour journey nearly three on the Northern Line) but it was easy as pie compared to the GMPTE debacle. At least in London every bus stand shows EXACTLY where the bus is going to stop - even if your tube is delayed, most stations are underground so you're kept warm, with a running update of how long the train will be. And as you need to purchase a ticket just to be inside the area, I felt so much safer than I have in Manchester. There were always staff at the stations, unlike the unmanned platforms along the tramline. Obviously this is impractical for Manchester, but surely they could learn some tips on how to improve service? I don't have to commute any more, thank god, as I live and work in the city centre - but I remember what going to Salford Quays was like each day. Miserable and unpredictable.

RazzApril 30th 2008.

Kev P, no wonder the Metrolink Inspetor threw you off the tram, your attitude stinks. Wishing someone dead because they rightly threw you off a tram is a vile and horrendous thing to do and betrays you for what you are. You bought your tickets in LIVERPOOL so you are NOT entitled to a free ride on a MANCHESTER tram, becuase none of your council tax or fare is going towards funding it. Having Manchester Stns on your ticket does NOT allow you to fare dodge and scab a ride. If you bought your ticket in Greater Manchester it would say Manchester CTLZ, which would allow you to ride the metro in the central zone.Do us all a favour and get a job in Liverpool and stary off our trams!

Ed GlinertApril 30th 2008.

After reading all these extraordnary stories about the uselessness of Metrolink I'm beginning to think I was too easy on the system in The Manchester Compendium. I was also highly critical of Metrolink in my Private Eye articles when it started in the early 90s. I said that it did little the old rail lines did and that the myriad of extensions would never be built. (There's new track to Eccles -wow! - where the stops are lengthy walks from the Lowry and no lines as promised to the Trafford Centre or Eastlands.)I said that the open access/voluntary ticket system would lead to dangerous stations and violent vehicles and was roundly condemned by Metrolink. I have been proved right. There is absolutely no reason why they can't sell tickets on the tram or revamp the stations with barriers and staff like at Oxford Road. It's not money stopping them but a basic lack of interest in serving the public.If they did this the thugs would no longer be able to hang around the stations, and the anti-social behaviour leading to worse would drop off. Perhaps only when someone is murdered after telling a "youth" to turn off his radio will Metrolink act.Why are the councils involved and local MPS not making this a priority, demanding meetings with the Metrolink managers (with some passenger representatives present) and raising these concerns? It is one of the most important issues in Manchester. Come on Leese! Come on Karney! Come on Beverley Hughes! Our only hope is pressure from Manchester Confidential.

SABApril 30th 2008.

I agree with Kev P, particularly with the British Transport Police aspect - they have a big presence in train stations and surely it's in their remit to keep tram passengers safe? I would much rather have them than adding to the Keystone Cops that masquerade as tram inspectors and seem to only pick on easy targets in some sort of power trip, whilst letting the troublemakers get away with it. Part of the many problems with this government, trying to get people out of cars but not sorting out public transport to cope with the extra numbers (unless you're in London).

Kev PApril 30th 2008.

I have a couple of points to make - The first is that I wholeheartedly agree with the attitudes of staff. I hardly ever take the tram as I live and work in the city centre but I arrived at Piccadilly on a train from Liverpool once with a friend and she lives near Victoria. It was raining heavily and we didn't have an umbrella so we decided to take the tram. The ticket machines were working fine (for a change) and there were inspectors on the platform so obviously no one was going to attempt fare dodging. I didn't buy a ticket as I had my ticket from Liverpool and I know from having checked in the past that if it says 'Manchester Stns' on you can also use it within the city centre on the tram. The inspectors got on with us at Piccadilly and came round and the way that the woman who checked my ticket spoke to me was disgusting. I was obviously not a fare dodger and I calmly tried to explain that I had travelled within the centre a couple of times on a train ticket and I had been told it was fine. She made me get off at Pic Gdns to buy an actual ticket and then signalled to the driver, who was waiting, to close the doors and move off while I was still getting it... I truly hope she dies of a horrible illness one day!!

Mr TApril 30th 2008.

Ha, what utter utter bollocks. They're upping the count to 70 inspectors so they can check more tickets and give out more fines, not for passenger safety. GMPTE don't give two ****s about it's customers, if they did they'd train staff properly and suggest they're polite to people. And cctv? That'll to identify faredodgers, I'd put money on it. Confidential, can't you organise a one day boycot of the metro? Hit em where it counts and really show them what their customers think.

BeckyApril 30th 2008.

Spawny, i agree this has been a long time coming but i feel less frustrated now i know that it's not just me being a whiny bitch.The inspectors are a vile bunch of creatures except for one man who is so lovely he almost makes up for the beasts that the rest of them are, almost. He told me this piece of nonpublicised information - if you forget your pass, just give them your deatils then send Metrolink a photocopy proving that you were in date of the pass and you will not be fined. I had unwittingly bought a ticket after forgetting my pass and he advised i should ask for a refund of the ticket because i didn't know this; obviously i am still waiting for my refund. Another time i hadn't realised my pass had run out but because i had all my passes dating back to 2006 he believed that i hadn't done it on purpose and made his supervisor just let me by a ticket. Nice man, Peter should clone him.Manchester Confidential i love you even more for getting this bee in your bonnet too!

AnonymousApril 30th 2008.

My other half got attacked with a bar when by another tram passenger. He was saved by a good samaritan who drove their car at his attacker. It took over an hour to convince anyone to take a statement - the police said it was a matter for the transport police... the transport police said it was a matter for the police!! Eventually we had someone take a statement... but what good is it. They said they could only arrest someone if they found them walking round with the bar in their hands!!

KellyApril 30th 2008.

Blamethejudiciary, I'm in agreement. I think that actually a very large percentage of the population is ready for a Zero Tolerance policy, as the heartbroken family of Gary Newlove would attest, but you have bleeding heart groups like Liberty (jeez, I really do hate those people) who demand equal human rights for everybody. I'm sorry, but kicking a man to death for defending his family and property instantly revokes your status as a human - if anyone disagrees, please let your views be know to victims of such assaults and then reconsider your own status - law-abiding folks just trying to get on in life have rights too, moreso than thugs who blame everything from ADHD (very vogue nowadays) to a poor upbringing for their behaviour and cry about their rights when they've violated those of others. Yes, prisons should be as they were intended - hard work, no luxuries, and punishment. I am actually a very liberal person, but the degree that liberalism has been taken to in recent years disgusts me.

KellyApril 30th 2008.

I agree with Anonymous - I'd like to think I'd help someone being attacked but if it was just me against 30-odd scum-sucking scallies, I'm not sure what I'd do. And personally, if the arrested girl was my daughter I would beat the everloving sh*t out of her - though I suppose her parents will side with her and blame 'ADHD', 'dyslexia', 'abuse', 'school', 'father left her', etc etc and she'll get off scot-free and probably with a nice little settlement payment as well. Until society bucks up and starts taking some responsiblity, this type of behaviour will continue. This won't go down well with Ms Chakrabarti at Liberty, but she can kiss my ar*e.

AnonymousApril 30th 2008.

could anyone remind me whether any council tax is used for GMPTE? How do they (we) get the cost for the Free Buses in the city centre? It may be used just for petrol?

EmmaApril 30th 2008.

A day's boycott won't do enough damage - how about a week. See what their 92% approval rating does then. Those answers were ridiculous, it doesn't seem like he even read any of the rants before he did this interview. If there are currently 54 Inspectors what are they doing all day? Wouldn't that be enough to have at least one on every tram all through the day?

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

The system isn;t ;even that busy at that time. Why did they all get positioned there, rather than spread out along the system??

Mr TApril 30th 2008.

Think about it bigfish, quadruple the number of people all paying for tickets to get on the same number of trams costs far less (and makes much more) than putting on extra services to ease overcrowding. It's not public transport, it's private profit.

I.W.April 30th 2008.

Could this increase in violence & nuisance bahaviour on the metrolink system be anything to do with the recent disbanding of the dedicated metrolink police unit? this used to be provided by GMP - Ispector, 3 sergeants & 24 PCs. its's now down to a sergenta & 6 PCs & will be down to zero by july. disbanded because the operators are unwilling to pay for it anymore.

blamethejudiciaryApril 30th 2008.

Ditto Kelly. We should stand as local councillors! lol. Shift these idiots out of the town hall once and for all...get some proper lobbying done on issues that matter like crime and push it as far as it can go with the support of your constituents the people who matter....

Kev PApril 30th 2008.

Couldn't agree more with Ed, lets get a campaign started! It's only pressure from local politicians that will get the Metrolink bosses in gear so everyone write to your local Councillors and MP and lets start a movement! Jonathan, I think ManCon should spearhead it, you've been so good in the past :oD

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

London, Berlin, Lisbon, even Sheffield – The list of great public transport services is endless and I don’t understand why Metrolink can’t learn from them. Also, if a daily user for over 10 years such as 'Sherie from Bury' hasn;t been aksed to fill in a survey then it's a bit of a problem! Who actually filled them in? Also, 94% out of how many people?

RichardApril 30th 2008.

I use the Metrolink regularly to commute from Altrincham to Manchester. I actually walk from Navigation Road where I live, to Altrincham, so I can get a seat. By the time the tram gets to Sale, people fall out rather than getting on. How can they cahrge £5.20 for such a rubbish service - the HSE should investigate the overcrowding on the trams at peak times. Of course they don't want to put inspectors on trams, because (a) it will eat into their fat profits and (b) there would have to be at least 2 inspectors to prevent them getting duffed up. What the Metrolink needs is:-More tramsDouble trams at peak timesMachines that take cardsHand rails above the doorways where people are crammed inGet rid of the scumbag hoodies on the platforms (especially Altrincham)Get the lifts to work so my wife doesn't have to carry a pushchair up/down stairs.Come on users - let's have a day of non-payment that would hit them where it hurts!I hate driving to work, but it is sometimes a very attractive option!

RazzApril 30th 2008.

Kev P, you are an opioninated scote using this forum to sound off about things you know very little about. Basically you are WRONG about using the ticket for Matrolink unless is says Manchester CTLZ. The fact you've got away with it before means nothing. I'll accept a written apology for your tirade of unwarranted abuse - it was proably similar to the mouthful you gave the Inspector when she did her job and threw you off the tram you half-wit.

Jonathan Schofield - editorApril 30th 2008.

Oops sorry folks...I got it wrong the approval rate was 94% not 92%. The statement read like this: 'Our latest survey (carried out at the start of the year) found that satisfaction with Metrolink was at 94%, compared to 96% for Summer 2007. The survey is carried out twice a year by a specialist market research company and 1,100 people across the county are interviewed.'

anneaApril 30th 2008.

Having read 50% of the comments i feel that there is someone not listening to the folk that use it.My god I thought I was on my own. Take yesterday and today. Wed one machine working and 5 checking tickets even when they see you buying a ticket especially kids in uniform. It is correct that they are hell bent on irritating the placid of people maybe for a laugh or they are so full of their own importance. Today the 2nd machine wasn't working. No one checking tickets. Both days big cues forming. it is no joke when people have to get connections in Victoria or the bus station. I take my husband to Victoria every morning now as the Trams have been so unreliable and he got to work late every day one week. My children get to college late at least 3/4 days a week as they have to get a connection in Piccadilly. Security I couple of years ago the Angels traveled on the trams they were great and unpaid as a trial,the tram management did not want them as they said it might provoke trouble.Whattt. Every time my teenage boys get on the tram they are met at the bottom of the steps in Crumpsall by a gang. I have wait until they get on the tram just in case. And finally why do we get trams with 2 coaches going from Bury to Manchester and one with 4 coaches going through to Altringcham. we all have our theories.

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

Sorry for the long post, but here’s a good one for you!About 8 years ago, I went to get a tram to a JOB INTERVIEW. There were three machines at the station. Two were out of order. I had a £10 note and luckily, the one machine that was working was the one that accepted notes (why don’t all the machines accept notes?). I put my £10 note into the machine and it spits it out, this happens for about 5 minutes before I finally give up. I ring the ‘customer service’ number – they were no help at all, in fact, they were extremely rude. Their exact words were, and I’ll never forget this line as long as I live, “It’s not our problem mate. You’re going to have to figure out a solution.” I explained that they were the ‘customer service’ team and I had rung them for advice plus I needed to get to an interview. The response was “I’m guessing it is because your tenner is creased”. How unlucky was I?!? I didn’t have a perfectly straight bank note! I was informed that I’d have to go to a shop and ask them to swap it for a straight one that would go into the machine! After 10 minutes of this complete nonsense, the man on the phone relented and me a travel code (basically a number that all inspectors know about, it changes each day so it can’t get abused). I thanked him and said I would purchase a ticket on my way home (I am honest like that!).I get on the tram, two stops later, a ‘gang’ of inspectors get on. I give them the travel code and they inform me that it isn’t the correct code for that day, it was the previous days code, and I’ll have to get off the tram at the next stop so they can ring customer service to sort it out! I explain that I am trying to get to a job interview, and offer to let the inspector use my mobile to ring the customer service line whist we’re still on the tram, that way I can get to my interview. But no, that wasn’t allowed, I had to get off the tram. We get off, and before he’ll ring customer services, he insists that he’ll try my creased £10 note, no joy. He rings customer service and low and behold, the person I spoke to only a few minutes earlier was not to be found “he must have gone home”! And apparently they had no record of my call! I am issued with a penalty fare, which takes another 10 minutes to fill out) I tell him there is no way I’m paying now as I’m going to appeal, at this point the inspector still has my £10 note in his hand and tries to take it as payment. I get it from him and get on the next tram. Finally on the tram, we get to St Peter’s Sq – guess what happens – ANOTHER pack of inspectors get on! I show them my penalty ticket, explain to them what has happened, they make me get off the tram to explain. At the time I used the tram almost daily and had loads of used tickets in my wallet that they could clearly see, so they know I wasn’t trying to pull a fast one– There’s more to it, but I’m probably boring you now! I missed my interview, appealed against the fine and after many phone calls and letters, I won my appeal.

RichardApril 30th 2008.

Well said! Why don't you two spend some energy trying to comment on the Metrolink, rather than using this forum to make snide remarks. If I was the MD of Metrolink I wouldn't bother reading the serious comments on here due to your pathetic drivel!

BigfishApril 30th 2008.

Correct. They only seem to be interested in catching fare dodgers to makeup the money they lose out on. They’re going to find that they lose more money in the long run though when people start boycotting the system.I used to travel by Metrolink every day, twice a day. The main reason I stopped using it was due to the poor service and the absolute idiots that they employ as staff. The amount of arguments staff, both on the trams/platforms and over the telephone, have started with me is amazing. They have no idea about basic customer service.I know a number of people who have stopped using the system over the last 18 months.

CharlApril 30th 2008.

Security is an issue at all times of day. The other week I was getting the Eccles tram to work from Pic Gardens at 8am and there were 4 people on there extremely drunk and vocal and one kept shouting about having a toy fight with the commuters and looked like things were going to turn nasty at any minute. They were arguing between themselves and then decided to have a competition who could headbut the driver compartment door (opposite end to the driver) the hardest. 2 of them head butted the door at least 10 times and dented it in. Luckily it was only a door they headbutted rather than the passengers. All the inspectors did was ambush them at archorage and ask them to get off - no police or apprehension. we did not feel safe!

Kev PApril 30th 2008.

Thought I'd break it up so it wasn't just one massive block! The second thing is on the issue that the article is about - Safety. It's blatantly obvious that there is no security whatsoever. Drivers are instructed to stay in their cabins for their own protection and who could blame them, though I'm astonished that the driver of the tram Julie was on didn't have even a spark of humanity that made him get off and help her out. Inspectors are not there to make the tram secure they are there to make more money and I doubt highly that any of them would intervene if an attack occured for fear of being attacked themselves. I was on a tram in Altrincham once coming back from the ice rink and there were at least 50 youths on the platform harassing people getting on and repeatedly kicking the tram and blocking the doors so that it could not move off and we were sat there for 15 minutes until they got bored. What we need is a strong British Transport Police presence on the trams during the evening and at stations where it is possible, such as Altrincham, large barriers bloacking off the platform that you have to put your ticket through. This would cost a bit (but not that much) but it would go a long way to securing the trams and it would also stop fare dodgers, though it's impossible to do at open stops like most in the city centre. I'm really surprised Metrolink don't have barriers already actually. Anyway, rant over!

MattApril 30th 2008.

Overcrowding is the biggest problem, why have empy trams every 6 mins to altrincham in the day then only the same amount during peak hours to work, it's crampted and unpleasant..buy some more carriages please

Kev PApril 30th 2008.

Razz, I hate to be blunt, but you're an idiot. Firstly it was bought in Grtr Mancs as it was a return ticket and secondly the last comment was off hand and not at all serious. You weren't there and have no idea of the situation so get your head out of your backside and keep your offensive and misinformed comments to yourself.

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