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The Big Interview: Philip Purdy, Director Metrolink

Jonathan Schofield has a long, long chat about all things Metrolink past, present and future

Written by . Published on June 8th 2009.

The Big Interview: Philip Purdy, Director Metrolink

Interviews are odd things. Two strangers meet in a room and have an in-depth chat. They don’t know each other, they may never meet outside a work situation. Inevitably there’s a built-in coldness to the bonhomie.

Yet on these terms it’s hard not to like the Aussie director of Metrolink, Philip Purdy. This is one sharp-suited, neatly turned out chap, who has a wide-awake stare giving the impression that nothing gets past him. He’s careful with his words but there’s a directness and enthusiasm about the man which is appealing.

He knows his stuff too.

“Light rail is in my blood,” he says. “I’ve been in this game thirty years and more and I’ve dealt with several major projects in Melbourne, one of the world’s biggest networks, on track extensions, interchanges, a new tram depot.”

He looks forward to delivering change in Manchester too: “This is a great opportunity to work on one of the biggest tram delivery jobs anywhere, with the extension of the lines to make the system more meaningful and with procedural changes too.”

One of the latter involves ‘Line of sight’.

“This means,” he says, “handing back control to the driver. We’re going to get rid of the current signalling system so that drivers can bunch at stations if necessary without the system closing down. It’ll be up to them.”

I’m looking puzzled.

“You see,” he continues, “Metrolink was designed as a heavy rail system not a light one. Light systems are more flexible. So say you have a big event or a match at United or a problem at rush hour, you can redirect more trams to stations to make sure people are picked up. This means less waiting around, more room and greater comfort. It helps us solve the problem of one tram crawling into a station that’s packed with more people than can possibly fit on that tram. And then those people on the platform having to wait around for the next one.”

It’s an obvious change but one which may not have happened so quickly with a native in the driving seat. The bureaucratic way Britain works with regard to infrastructure funding and delivery, may have dampened enthusiasm for one already mired in it. When asked about having to work through all the red tape Purdy for once seems uncertain where to go. Instead, he grins and raises his eyes to the ceiling, “it’s interesting,” is all he offers.

We chat about the £600m extensions on the system and whether they will be delivered on time. Purdy confidently states yes they will. The extensions are to MediaCity in summer 2010, Chorlton in spring 2011, Central Park (Newton Heath) also by spring 2011, Oldham Mumps by autumn 2011, Rochdale and Droylsden in spring 2012.

After that, as part of further £1.54bn funding to public transport in Greater Manchester, there’ll be extensions to Manchester Airport via Didsbury, and into Ashton, Rochdale and Oldham town centres, and maybe into Trafford Park. The lines to Ashton and from Chorlton to East Didsbury may be open by winter 2013.

“We’re also considering another city centre route,” says Purdy. “We’ve bought 40 new trams and with the existing units and with the new routes, one line across the city centre is really insufficient. If there’s a problem now there’s nowhere to redirect trams. This is why we’ve had to entirely close the city centre track during these present repairs.”

Speaking of which, should Metrolink, have lowered ticket prices for people coming into the city centre suburbs during this time given the inconvenience of say wanting to travel to St Peter’s Square and having to get off at Victoria?

“We looked at that,” says Purdy. “But the approach was that we were getting people into the city so it was appropriate to keep the ticket prices the same.”

Confidential isn’t sure passengers agree. By the way either Cross Street or Deansgate look the likely streets to host trams in the not-too distant future.

As for the short term work, the city centre mess will be finished in August. Then in the same month the entire Altrincham line will close. Purdy explains: “The stations along the line will be improved and decorated in the new yellow and silver colours, all the overhead cables and some supporting structures, will be replaced. At Trafford Bar the existing line will be hooked into the line into the new tram depot there and also to Chorlton.”

All this is of course the good news.

This is the happy-clappy, wow look what’s going to happen stuff. But what about problems with the present system? What about all the crap that Metrolink passengers have had to put up with over recent years: the overcrowding, the lack of security, the rude inspectors and those effing idiot ticket machines?

The overcrowding first.

Morning trams can be so full there’s a pernicious type of involuntary frottage going on which is never titillating. I still recall with regret trying to adjust the position of my laptop bag not so long ago and ending up done for. It was bad enough that my shoulder was crammed between a truly vast and ancient cleavage, but hell was the proximity of a man’s face close to mine. This fella had breath worse than a broken sewer in a heatwave.

Purdy smiles politely at excessive similes and metaphors.

“There may always be occasions when there will be overcrowding on public transport,” he says. “It’s not a problem unique to Manchester, but remember we have the signalling changes happening and we’ve got the forty new trams coming as well. This should impact on issues of overcrowding.”

We’ll keep an eye on that.

Next the ticket machines. These were seemingly sent by Skynet, the Terminator creator, to soften us up by making us crack through frustration before the really nasty machines with guns turn-up.

Purdy says: “We have a solution, we hope. There are 120 plus new ticket machines being rolled out across the service from this autumn, and all existing machines will be replaced by mid-2010. They’re similar to the ones at Manchester Piccadilly rail station presently, and people will be able to use notes, coins and crucially cards. The newer technology will give users far fewer problems.”

The machines will cost £5.4m which seems expensive. There’ll be up to five at every station with a ‘queue-busting’ cash-only one as well.

Good news. Again we can only judge the effectiveness of the new machines after they’ve been installed. But at least this is a timetabled action of improvement. Let’s hope at least that the spectre of passengers licking coins to give them extra weight so machines take them will no longer haunt us.

Time to turn to the thorny issue of inspectors. Ah yes, the angels of infrastructure: or rather the pack animals in hi-vis jackets invading stations in clumps of twenty, chewing gum and snarling. Yes this is a gross disservice to some of them but many have that blank-faced, smug, surly attitude of the bouncer who loves to say no.

So is Purdy happy with their overall behaviour?.

“No, I’m not happy with them at all,” he says. “I travel from Altrincham every morning and go home on the system every morning and I give my staff feedback all the time. And we talk to Stagecoach as well, which as the operator, employs the inspectors.”

“We’re working with Stagecoach to see how we can improve behaviour and service. We have paid for extra staff. Because I’m not happy, we’ve got a review document which we recently (the day before the interview) sent to Stagecoach. This underlines how the operator needs to look at how inspectors are trained, how it reviews them, how it rosters them. We are very aware that inspectors are the people that passengers have contact with.”

Purdy continues: “I have an approach where the first four things about running the tram system are: customer, customer, customer, customer and then you can tell me what the fifth is?”

It sounds the right approach, but then it goes sort of wrong. This follows a question about whether inspectors can, like the drivers, be given the right to think for themselves.

At present if you get on a tram and don’t have a ticket you are given a £100 fine (£50 if paid within two weeks). Many genuine non-fare dodgers get caught out by this.

Here’s a situation. You get to the station, the machine with the note handling facility is bust or has decided not to take the note. The only other machine you can use is over the bridge on the other platform and your tram is coming in. Confidential would argue in such a case, there should be a ticket machine on the tram, or if caught, inspectors should be able to use their intelligence and discretion, listen to your story, and then issue the correct ticket at the rate you would have paid at the machine.

This is what happens on trains. The conductor gets on the train and says tickets from so and so and you tell him where you got on a train and pay accordingly.

“That is too complicated and too open to interpretation,” says Purdy. “There are lot of people who try any excuse not to pay. To make a decision of the sort you’re asking is very difficult for a customer service person to do. You’ve got to remember that public transport reflects public behaviour. The only answer I have is if you don’t have a ticket you get fined. If you don’t like it you can appeal. As for paying on the trams, it’s not for us at present, not the way we’re organised.”

We thrash this subject around a while, but don’t get anywhere: giving inspectors initiative seems out of the question.

On tram security, with rowdy and abusive passengers, we reach another impasse.

“We have sixty-six inspectors at present,” says Purdy. “Of course these aren’t always available because of rostering. But we are moving on tram security, both with the improvements at tram stations and with the staff themselves. There’ll be a number of them accredited with the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester police and these will have their own identifying marks. We want them to look the part as well as behave the part and these will provide a real presence on trams.”

How these will be used on trams in terms of security seems yet to be fully worked out and remains an unresolved issue in the interview. Purdy does say though: “Their role is customer service, security and fare evasion. We need to look after the employee as well. I’m very customer focussed, it’s my priority, but you still have care for the employer.”

Finally we discuss Stagecoach, the operators of Metrolink, and crash right into another barrier. Stagecoach, with its buses and its Metrolink franchise, has almost a stranglehold on Manchester public transport. We know that prior to the city centre repair work, Metrolink revenues were about £25m a year, so could Purdy tell us how much Stagecoach earn from Metrolink as a fee?

“I can confirm they earn a fee,” says Purdy. “But I can’t tell you how much. It’s a commercial arrangement, between us and them.”

Oh really is it Mr Purdy? We don’t agree. So we’re going to try and find out for our readers.

We’re putting a Freedom of Information Act request into Metrolink. Normally commercial relationships are exempt from scrutiny. But if there’s public interest involved then that can be over-ridden. Finding out how much Stagecoach earn from Metrolink is surely in the public interest if we are to scrutinise how vast sums of public money are managed? That refusal is a black mark against Purdy.

We’ll suspend further discussion of Stagecoach until we have that figure. Then we’ll be having a proper look at their overwhelming role in Greater Manchester transport.

So that was that.

An interview of two halfs. One full of grand vision and a bright future, one much more cautious: great news on expansions and ticket machines, uncertainty about fining policies and the role of inspectors.

Given the money coming into public transport in Greater Manchester it seems - despite what Sir Richard Leese stated at the time of the Congestion Charge poll - that there was a Plan B, for infrastructure improvement. Metrolink is at the centre of this.

Philip Purdy seems the type of driven individual who can deliver a competent future for Metrolink. He may not have answered all the questions asked of him, but he certainly has the strength of character to fight his way through the bureaucracy and give us a system of which we might – just might - start to be proud.

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

Peter RivendellJune 8th 2009.

I'm just looking forward to August when I won't be able to get to and from work easily, go out or get to and from Manchester Pride.Marvellous.

JoJune 8th 2009.

It's a shame that one of the real gripes wasn't tackled-tram times. Life has moved on since 1992 but tram times haven't. Trams only running til 2230 on a Sunday? And the last weekday tram back from Bury is actually earlier now than when it started. Is that progress?

DarrenJune 8th 2009.

I agree - Oyster style cards would be great or indeed pre-paid tickets from shops! I use the trams but not frequent enough to buy pass. I think information about broken machines and what to do needs to be made MUCH CLEARER to the general public at the station - not in newspapers or on websites.

Ali McGowanJune 8th 2009.

It sounds like the two major gripes - crappy ticket machines and overcrowded trams - are already in hand. Here's hoping the red tape doesn't stall these other improvements. I am not a fan per se of Stagecoach (they operate the still pretty clapped out East Midlands Trains) but am not clear why we need to know what fee they receive - as far as I know, they simply run the system, they don't fund new trams or ticket machines, so overcrowding etc is not their fault. The only thing that they do need to address are the bloody inspectors! One other point - Purdy says that paying on trams is not for Manchester - yet it works perfectly well on the Sheffield (Stagecoach run!) system. Having a ticket inspector/conductor on board is surely a good thing for reducing fare evasion and for improving passenger safety. It also means the driver is not on his/her own... and although it would cost more, you wouldn't need 60 inspectors!!!! Seems utterly ridiculous not to do it...

Manchester Water TaxisJune 8th 2009.

Thanks Castlefield I look forward to your email. Have a great weekend

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

Yes I agree that some 'inspectors' are polite and fair …….yet, too many are not…..Just because a passenger assaults an inspector it doesn’t mean that he has the right to assault him back…..which planet are you guys trained on?

rosieJune 8th 2009.

there is only one comment in the above rants(from the charmingly monikered metro****)about the attitude of the inspectors.i've always found them to be polite-but maybe that's because i always have a ticket and don't give them attitude for doing their (thankless) job.also, much as i don't agree with the violence alleged,i think that anon has every right to stick up for his/herself and their colleagues when being attacked on this site by some anonymous nobody

Manchester Water TaxisJune 8th 2009.

Thank you very much Castlefield. I actually finished my business plan yesterday and have started searching for funding. If you'd like to send me an email via the contact page on our website http://www.manchesterwatertaxis.com I'd be more than happy to chat with you and that goes for anyone who'd like to know more about the venture please mail me and I'll gladly talk you through my idea. Thanks Steven

CastlefieldJune 8th 2009.

Ha, you're funny, no really that was quite a quip at the end! What you have to realise is that we don't live in the garden of Eden and people will drop litter whether we like it or not and people will try to evade fares. This happens on nearly every tram system worldwide, we just don't deal with it well. If less litter was dropped, there would be less cleaners and we don't want them losing their jobs do we. There are a couple of people above who say they were at Pomona and saw something a bit different to you, they are not 'demented' for seeing it differently. I wasn't there no, thank God. As for distinguishing between drunk and drunken, what next? Breath tests for tram users and if you fail, tough you have to drive home. Your hint that I'm idiotic because I disagree with you again highlights that golden chip.

HelenJune 8th 2009.

Emma, I agree it's far from ideal - and my card was skimmed at Christmas and that is a possible explanation of where the details were nicked from! It seems stupid that when you call up for the xth time, they haven't got your details on system from last time, thus preventing you from having to read them out again.

emma graceJune 8th 2009.

I think Purdy's response to the situation that JS described was appalling. I'm shocked by his blase and unsympathetic attitude. Basically what he's saying is, even if you have every intention to pay, but the facilities provided by Metrolink prevent you from doing so, the response is basically "Tough". It's nice to know that Purdy sympathises with the customer on this one. Evidently, collecting fine money is more important than customer service.

CastlefieldJune 8th 2009.

Perhaps if inspectors acted like inspectors it may help. It is understood that in society there are people who will cause problems in any environment but it is not for the crusading inspectors to deal with. It is not for them to 'give someone what they deserve'. It's quite clear a big percentage don't like their jobs nor passengers, so you wonder why they're doing it in the first place. There are obviously two sides to the Pomona story, but this incident is irrelevant from the general surly, bad mannered attitude of a lot of the inspectors. There seems to be a lot of people who work for the tram system on here, which is fine, just deal with it better when people disagree with you. The personal attacks above by the metro workers anytime anyone has a different opinion fits in with the attitude displayed on the system. Sure you're not going to get anything like the cream of society doing the job, however it does always seem that positions like tram inspectors are taken up by a certain kind of knuckle dragging, mini-Hitler imbecile. That's a generalisation and stereotype sure, but these things are often quite close to the truth.

ConfusedJune 8th 2009.

There is a station at Cornbrook, but you can't get in or out of it! Any ideas?

1 Response: Reply To This...
Jason CraigJune 14th 2014.

Get a tram into the city centre and get a bus/taxi back there.

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

to Metro****, The incident with the bloke at Pomona on Tuesday was due to an Inspector getting assulted & put in hospital just 4 askin if he had a ticket. GET YOUR FACTS RIGHT BEFORE U CALL US ARSEHOLES. Dickhead

anonJune 8th 2009.

I agree about the poor service when it comes to not being able to get people home. One day last week the Eccles line trams got cancelled but the annoucement at the station said they were just delayed so I waited for an hour for no reason. I would've only waited 20 minutes, but I was on the phone to customer services for a further 40 minutes before someone answered. They told me the trams were cancelled and I had to walk to a stop on the Altrincham line instead. I don't know the area at all and had no idea where the nearest stop was so I had to pay for a taxi. Then yesterday the tram I was travelling on dumped everyone at Cornbrook due to the derailed tram (which was between St Peters Sq and Deansgate, so why they couldn't have dropped us at Deansgate I really don't understand). I asked how I was supposed to get into the city centre and was told to pay for a regular bus. I didn't have money, just my tram ticket, so I had to walk all the way back. Again I don't know the area so I got lost and ended up two hours late home. I think it's a disgrace that they didn't put a bus on in either situation.

Thomas RamJune 8th 2009.

lindsay.moyles@gmpte.gov.uk. Is that who we should complain to about Metrolink.

1 Response: Reply To This...
Bury Metrolink StationJune 14th 2014.

I think so.

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

hahahahaah Sparky, sky train eh!? Most of us call those PLANES

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

When someone is able to translate the last rant please do!

DavidJune 8th 2009.

My gripe is thus: Twice in one week Metrolink has been unable to get me home. Yesterday at St P's Sq I was told by a metrolink employee -'No more trams, mate & no more info'. No apology, no alternative, no concern. Surely, by purchasing a return ticket Metrolink have entered into a contract with me to generate a realistic alternative ? Hardly embracing the customer centric attitude purported by Mr Purdy. I think my main frustration, however, which I suspect is common, is the way I am treated as a model customer - who pays top whack, without fail every weekday and yet gets treated as cattle and with no degree of respect by the organisation and it's employees alike. Already taking 20mins extra on my journey under the current repair work, now I have the anticipation of using a bus for the month of August - with no discount to compensate my considerable inconvenience. Hardly a suitable way to treat vauled customers, Mr Purdy, n'est pas ?

Manchester Water TaxisJune 8th 2009.

Hi I've read Jonathan's article and your rants with great interest and I thought now might be a good time to introduce you to a project I've been working on since February 2009. http://www.manchesterwatertaxis.com is a business that I've set up to hopefully address some of the issues you've raised. I plan to launch the service December 2010 in conjuntion with the opening of Media City UK. I plan to run water taxis or 'WAXIS' as I've nicknamed them between The Quays and Victoria Station. The service will run every eight minutes from 6am until midnight 364 days a year and will I hope offer a stress free alternative way to travel across the city to those already on offer. Tickets will be available from the internet, pay point affiliated shops, the skippers of our WAXIS and hopefully GMPTE travel shops. I'm also planning on becoming a member of the system one travel card scheme so people can hop off a train, tram or bus straight onto a WAXIS. I was going to hold off bringing attention to Manchester Water Taxis until next year but this article has generated so much debate I thought it only right to let you know first what I'm doing and hopefully to gauge your thoughts to my service. Thanks Steven

CastlefieldJune 8th 2009.

This is prob too late but if you've not interviewed the police chief yet, can you ask him about the above incident. There are obviously several witnesses and the police didn't seem interested. What is reasonable force and have the cctv pics been looked at? Have the police even taken this seriously or just arrested and cautioned the passenger involved. I know which my money is on.

AdamJune 8th 2009.

this city really needs a monorail.

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

surely the solution is to have a free at the point of boarding public transport system(zagreb and hassault have them)see campaign for free public transport website

SparkyJune 8th 2009.

Can't they just send someone to analyse the German system and copy it here - Everything there, just.... works! Even the system in Thailand, the sky train, runs perfectly on time, every 5 minutes, is clean, air-conditioned, etc JESUS if they can manage it, surely we can?!?!

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

I am yet to be convinced - Metro**** have had far too much of my cash and more importantly time of the years, I won't get on a tram unless there is no other option.

CastlefieldJune 8th 2009.

Bloody hell. Fish and Chips on your shoulder. Pesky passengers eh? People on trams at night having had a drink, who'd have thought it? Cleaners having to pick up litter and er clean, it's a disgrace! As for Pomona it seems like everyone was there - you were probably working, no?

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

Castlefield. I mentioned "drunken" passengers, not passengers who had been out for a drink. There is a major difference.Yes, cleaners are there to clean. Refuse bins are also there to be used. Bylaws are there to be adhered to. Common sense is given to be used, and respect for your surroundings is also to be desired.No, I wasn't working at Pomona station. I HAD been working close by, thats how I afford an annual pass. Thanks for asking though, your concern for my employment is very comforting. I didn't realize "everyone" was at Pomona. Obviously, you were there too? Which one were you then?Chip on my shoulder? Damn right! I am getting really peeved with idiotic rantings of people ignorant or the real issues, underlying issues and the facts. Some people just need to start accepting some responsibility for their own actions. If you accept litter on trams, you get dirty trams. If you accept antisocial behaviour on trams, you get bad security on trams. If you accept people evade fares, you get low-lifes not paying and get more inspectors.I could say "get a life" but I prefer "get a ticket"

cpingJune 8th 2009.

The all day System One Bus card is £4.70 purchased from the driver and is any route any company inside the GM boundary (approx) The after 9.30 am is £4.30 again from the driver. All the bigger operators have their own cheaper day cards but you can only travel on the issuing operators bus (as people often find out!)The current price of the London Bus Only all day card is £3.80. which includes the Trams but NOT the Underground.

SteJune 8th 2009.

Stagecoach = Highway Robbery

castlefieldJune 8th 2009.

I will, on monday. Give you my business details etc. Can help with offices etc also!

rosieJune 8th 2009.

erm......did you not think that it would be more appropriate to call the police?

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

Sorry P, we can't have oysters because our fellow ciitizens voted against the TIF proposal, and fares in GM are determined by individual operators while in GL they are determined by Tranport for London and the blond bombshell.Actually there is a trial in Bolton and it may be in the next GM Transport Plan 2010+Descartes is right... and I often ask for a print out of my London trips. but MI5 will have a problem in tracking it since my card is not registered and I did not put my name on the purchase sheet. You don't need to say who you are really!

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

To Radcliffe NOT the brightest of chaps are they? Extortionate ,......u seem to be the brightest person lol. I truly tink u should run the system n make ur own rules the same way u seem 2b making ur own "English" Sorry to ask but what primary school were you expelled from again?

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

Look, lets get a few things straight here.The Metro is filthy. The Metro is usually late. The Metro is often delayed. The Metro is unsafe at night.The Metro is filthy because filthy people use it. They are cleaned every night by a dedicated group of (underpaid) individuals who do a job none of you would like to do. If the punters didn't drop litter, spit on the floor, graffiti the doors/windows/seats, leave opened drink tins on the seats, leave half eaten kebabs on the seats and basically ruin the saloons, we would all have spotless trams.If the punters didn't hold the doors open for their mates, turn the emergency door releases, stand in front of trams in the city centre, or refuse to leave the tram at terminal stations, the trams would be on time a lot more.The Metro is often delayed because it has had 0 funding for 17 years. The GMPTE own it and they are the ones who have used it as a cash cow for 17 years. They have not put a single penny of their own cash into maintenance and are now reaping their rewards for such a policy. It doesn't matter who runs the trams, its the GMPTE that hold the purse strings and decide what work is done. Anyone who can build a new building like the PTE building near Piccadilly and cock up enough to have to have its bridge staffed 24/7 as it is unsafe, should not be running public transport! The Metro is unsafe for one reason, the scum that uses it at night. Drug dealers, drug takers, drunks, gangs of kids, fare evaders all think its a great way to travel for free. Putting an inspector on each tram would do nothing to change this. Would YOU work alone on a tram full of drunks on a Friday/Saturday night? The only way to secure a tram is to put 3-4 inspectors/security guys on each tram. There are 30 odd trams so you need 120 inspectors at any one time. Add in shift work, holidays and sickness, and you need about 500 inspectors. If you put one inspector on each tram you could get this down to 100, but then you have to account for all the missing staff who will get assaulted. Only an idiot would suggest the idea!same goes for people who suggest an inspector selling tickets, or a ticket machine, on each tram. No one would buy a ticket until they saw an inspector asking to see them. There would then be a 200 person crush for the tram ticket machine!As for assaults on any staff, if the person needs holding until the police get there, then they should be held. If that means pinning them to the floor, so be it. If your low-life scum who goes around smacking inspectors for doing their job, then you are low-life enough to be planted to the ground and charged. If you don't want to be pinned down, don't assault people. shimples. As for the guy who says he was at Pomona and witnessed the incident, well he is either lying or demented. I WAS there and saw the whole thing. There was an assault, and an arrest. Mind you, he thinks he was at Pomaloma so God knows what he thought he saw!If the GMPTE put money back into the trams, if the punters stop dropping crap on the trams, if the punters stop holding the trams up and if punters start showing a little respect (ie buying tickets, not ruining the journey for others etc) then we MAY get a decent tram system. Until then, this Purdey guy is our only hope. Can he do it? I very much doubt it. We are a grubby city with a grubby culture. We have a grubby PTE and the trams are run by the same outdated, grubby, managers (operating companies change, the managers remain the same).Oh and finally, the comment about "passengers on the Melbourne tram asking why I had bought a ticket as it doesn't matter"???Guess who run it???Yup, a certain Mr PurdeyYou get what you deserve!

rosieJune 8th 2009.

absolutely agree with anon.my tram journey has never been ruined by metrolink staff.it has been made fairly horrid(on occasion)by all sorts of passengers,from the obnoxious hoodies/pramfaces,to a group of well spoken chaps in suits who had had way too much to drink.the only time i've seen an inspector with an attitude was when they've been treated like crap by someone who hadn't paid their fare

DarrenJune 8th 2009.

One final rant. On the subject of an integrated transport infrastructure - why cant I buy a bus ticket that then allows tram travel across the city. Arriving in Shudehill Bus station is effectively getting you to the edge of the city...but you then have to walk for miles or then buy another ticket at the tram stop. Why not allow people to buy a bus ticket that then allows Zone 1 travel?

HelenJune 8th 2009.

If the ticket machine isn't working or doesn't take your note you can call the customer services number on the machine and pay with a card over the phone. They give you a code to tell the inspector as proof of purchase. I've had to call loads of times as the Navigation Rd machines are notoriously poor. So there isn't an excuse for not paying really - though I am not trying to excuse the crap machines, they do my head in.

RadcliffeJune 8th 2009.

I can't believe there are actually people trying to defend an absolutely awful service which is nothing short of a farce. These people have obvioulsy never ventured too far and used public transport services like the London Underground and the fantastic metro systems in France and Germany, services that are actually operated correctly and efficiently. The metrolink vehicles are consistently filthy and outdated and as for the stations, my God I feel like I've been transported to 1990 / 80s Soviet building or at some stations even a wartorn area of Kososvo. Ah the machines, complete and utter garbage. IF THE NOTE FACILITY IS FAULTY AND DOESN'T WORK, GET RID OF THE WHOLE THING ALTOGETHER. The amount of times I've been told by the gorilla inspectors with not even half a brain cell between them, 'Go to a shop for change' is unbelievable. It would be fantastic to see the inspectors use just a touch of initiative, but lets face it, this is a non-starter as I say, they poor little mites are not exactly the brightest of chaps are they? Extortionate prices are a crap, not even third or fourth rate service is unacceptable. Have any of the recent 'track replacement and upgrades' improved the service any, don't make me laugh. The Bury line, closed for the entire summer last year for 'essential' work has improved none, still late, overcrowded and makes you feel like your head is about to fly off because of the shaking and rocking. If these new developments and lines are delivered at all, never mind on time and improved I genuinely will show my arse on Deansgate. One last rant. In the early morning rush hour, why oh why so many double Altrincham trams and just two singlr Eccles lines. Maybe the so called 'higher brass' at metrolink/stagecoach suffer from the same intelligence deficiencies as the beasts they employed as inspectors. When drawing up the timetables did it never occur to them that the Eclles tram journeys through Exchange Quay, Salford Quays, Anchorage, Harbour City and Broadway, the largest development of office complexes outside of the city centre directly. Did it not possibly at one point ever enter their mind that maybe, just maybe there are a large amount of people who might just actuallt work in those offices and actually need to get there. In, short tossers running a toss service.

mark angelucciJune 8th 2009.

Half the problem is incorrect info; obsolete info screens and ticket machines; no public address announcements...hardly that difficult to rectify i should have thought...

Homer SimpsonJune 8th 2009.

@Adam: Can I drive it?

DescartesJune 8th 2009.

Because the Oyster card tracks people by where they get on and off, there's a surprisingly detailed database of peoples journeys - much more effective than ID cards and should be fought at all costs

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

I think it is ridiculous that they haven't lowered fares during the works. The inconvenience to commuters is immense. The fact that they get you to and out of town argument is stupid. Fom Bury to Altrincham you are facing a tram, bus and tram. The double trams that were provided in the beginning appear to be less frequent. I have had to resort to using my car due to the unreliability of the tram times and provision. Also yesterday I actually tried to get from Piccadilly to Victoria with the metroshuttle bus and realised that there is no information as to whether you can pay on the bus or have to get a ticket from the machines downstairs, then the signs stop inside the station so you find yourself walking up and down the street outside looking for the stop to get one. If I was an International visitor I would struggle to follow this and hate my first introduciton to Manchester.

MetrowankJune 8th 2009.

I was on the eccles tram this evening and just before my 15 min wait to get from cornbrook to Gmex teh tram passed through Pomona where 6 "inspectors" (arseholes) were busy pinning a guy to the floor while one of the staff had his knee and all his weight on the side of the guys face puching it into the floor. Now considering the guy was most likely a scum bag I still dont see it aceptable to abuse the guy. The situation was most likey created by the bad attitude of the "inspectors" who need to learn how to deal with people and difficult situations instead of turning into thugs. Needless to say when I called Metrolink they were not all that intrested and said someone will call in the morning as they have no managers in, just time to clear the cctv recordings from that platform.

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

Sounds hopeful - let's hope it happens. Using the system at the moment is for the most part a frustrating and at times downright unpleasant experience. I think it's bad though that they haven't reduced ticket prices bearing in mind the city centre disruption. I'd also have liked to know what they base their pricing on - ticket prices seem comparable with London tube passes which seems ridiculous.

Lindsay MoylesJune 8th 2009.

Thanks for that anonymous

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

We do need to start thinking about an integrated transport ticketing system to keep up with other cities. But why change the colour of trams and stations to yellow?? It would look ghastly.

JJune 8th 2009.

I agree with P, why doesn't manchester have an Oyster card like in London. You can top it up at local shops, and it saves lots of wasted time trying to get change. You can also buy a ticket that takes you anywhere in London during the day - the pricing in Manchester is so complicated

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

For Love Manchester... as a part time London resident, I say that London buses are not regulated but franchised by Transport for London who incidentally controls the main roads tube and trams & DLR but not heavy rail except the overground.The TIF did include electronic ticketing (smart card) and the bus proposals anticipated the Quality Bus Partnership arrangements and the regulations for these are now laware now law. We will see if GMITA manages get a Partnership going. I agree that franchise agreements (Metrolink) should be published and look forward to someone making and appealing a FOI request. I expect it the appeal would be won.

emma graceJune 8th 2009.

East Lancs, how would that work? You'd still have to give your card details wouldn't you?

DarrenJune 8th 2009.

With the issue of broken machines and having to pay a fine for not having a ticket then surely the simplest thing to do would be to consult the CCTV which would prove your story?

MI5June 8th 2009.

We all get your IP addresses from ManCon anyway, so we know where you live. And work. So we're not bothered about piecing together the journey.

former metro userJune 8th 2009.

Ali, a conductor wouldn't have time between stops to collect tickets/fares. In rush hour, they'd struggle to move down the tram anyway. On more than one occaision I've honestly seen people get off to let people off, then be unable to get back on.

ChickJune 8th 2009.

Steven; great idea! Good luck starting the business, I look forward to taking one of your waxis

drew peacockJune 8th 2009.

Why can't shops sell tickets, wads of them?..all for different zones?..then all you do when you get on the tram is validate them in a little machine on board?..It works all over Europe..so why not here?

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

I'm hearing that the current city centre work is well behind schedule and won't re-open until at least November now. It's laughable that a city's flagship transport system can be closed 3 years in a row. To be fair, it seems Stagecoach & GMPTE are as much (if not more) to blame than Metrolink for the numerous issues debated above. I had a private audience with various people involved in the management of Metrolink earlier this year following my rants to them about the ridiculous and at times unsafe situation on match nights. Their stance was 'there's nothing we can do' until I started coming up with lots of ideas/suggestions which clearly they'd never thought of before. However, the only one they put into practice was station announcements to say fans could also get the Eccles line to the stadium, as then the current disruption started. I complained to my contact back in April about the latest disruption, asking a number of questions to which I've yet to receive a response. My previous emails have taken upwards of 4 weeks to get even an acknowledgement, so I guess I'm not surprised. Contact Lindsay Moyles who is responsible for customer service for Metrolink if you have any complaints about the service at lindsay.moyles@gmpte.gov.uk. You might get a reply by 2010...

CastlefieldJune 8th 2009.

To be fair anon, I think you'll find from the comments above that the public generally think you are ignorant, arrogant, rude etc and it's not just about this incident. Your reply to what the person saw just confirms the reputation you guys have so well done for that.

LoveManchesterJune 8th 2009.

To Anonymous (third post down) and for everyone else's benefit the TIF package WOULD NOT have delivered a London-style Oyster card for the simple reason that the buses in London are regulated and operators profits are capped. That's why Stagecoach pulled out of London. The TIF proposal DID NOT include bus regulation - it offered to provide more bus services under a "voluntary partnership", a system we've had since 1985 which has certainly made Brian Souter and sister (Stagecoach) and Moir Lockhead (First) - all Scottish by the way - very rich but done nothing for the increasingly poor travelling public of GM. On Metrolink, I believe it to be very important for the public to know what Stagecoach's fee (contract price) is for running the system and also what their net profit is because they don't do anything unless it involves vast profits and, frankly, that's wrong and is why the system has seen so little investment over the last 17 years. Public transport should never be about private profit and there is nowhere in the developed world where buses are run the way they are outside London in this country - and that's precisely why other countries enjoy reasonably priced, well maintained and seamless public transport systems. So... I commend ManCon's efforts to get to the truth and hope more people will make the effort to lobby for the type of public transport system Londoners take for granted.

LawJune 8th 2009.

Nice Article, look forward to more.

I.W.June 8th 2009.

Metrolink used to have a dedicated GMP police unit that the inspectors could call for back up & who patrolled the system . Until stagecoach took over & didn't want to pay for them. Now all they have are small groups of ticket inspectors with no more power to detain or arrest anyone than any other member of the public, & who have to call the already over-extended local police officers. They tried hiring cheap security guards for a while but they abandoned that ( you get what you pay for.)That's why more & more idiots are getting away with fare dodging & rowdy & anti social bahaviour

emma graceJune 8th 2009.

Helen, I have to do that all the time, and my only gripe with that is standing on a crowded Metrolink platform reading out my name, address, and card details. Not what you'd call secure really.

CastlefieldJune 8th 2009.

Brilliant. Love it. Can I invest, seriously?

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

I've given up and bought a bike!

east lancsJune 8th 2009.

Emma, no. I did it a couple of times (once for real, once out of spite) and whinged that I'd taken the correct change with me, and the machine had swallowed it. So I got given a code which was valid for that day only.

AshleighxJune 8th 2009.

Someone has written that the inspectors think they are bouncers, well what do you want them to do? Dress up in a pink tutu with a flashing cowboy hat... How serious would they have been taken then?As for 'Metro****', do you think its appropriate for this so called 'victim' to headbut people and start biting inspectors? The psycho hospitalised one of these so called ''arseholes'' you mentioned, so do you still agree reasonable force wasn't used? In my opinion I think he deserved everything that he got.'Anonymous' who claims he was there at Pomona clearly wasn't. The story told is completely different to what happend. It's people like you, lily-white do-gooders, who always seem to take the side of the poor, innocent, drug-dealing, granny-beating, theiving, scumbag low-lives. All other normal human beings have to abide by day-to-day rules and regs, so what makes people think they can kick off with somebody who is only doing their job and asking for a ticket? Or stopping them stealing from shops? Or asking them to stop urinating on trams? If it's only under a fiver why doesn't he just pay it? Or would you like to pay it for him, you being such an upright standing citizen in society who worries about poor butting-biting yobs who doesn't pay for a system that everybody else has to. Thought not.Looking forward to your reply poppet :-)

MargeJune 8th 2009.

Monorail? That's more of a Shelbyville kind of idea

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

I saw the guy getting roughed up at Pomaloma too, I asked an 'inspector' if it was necessary to be so rough and he told me to mind my own business…I got out my phone to record and he went to grab it and stood in my way. I asked him if it was the correct way to 'hold' someone while they wait for the police and the reply I got was that it was reasonable force….I explained that it wasn’t reasonable to knee anyone in the back, especially whilst being pinned down over a ticket fare less than a 5ver. I asked the police when they arrived if it was acceptable and they said 'it would be better if I kept out of it' …… as for the assault claim, i was there, he did nothing bar try and run away....... there was no assault on an inspector, I was there the whole time..........

Here's to using public transport!June 8th 2009.

The Metrolink service is a disgrace! They are filthy - have they ever been cleaned? The so called 'inspectors' are more like aggressive night club bouncers who believe they have the right to be speak to people however they wish and also their body language is that of a bouncer! Furthermore, the price of the metro is crazy - for all these increases in fairs - what has that brought the customer?!! Compare this to like for like services throughout Europe and also the London underground! The Metro is way behind the times! Why doesn;t the metro/Stagecoach listen to the customers!!

CastlefieldJune 8th 2009.

Sorry it was the last article re metrolink where people were commenting on inspectors. Here's some: www.manchesterconfidential.co.uk/index.asp…

Manchester Water TaxisJune 8th 2009.

Thanks for the support Chick I really appreciate it ;-)

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

I want 2 know if anybody commenting in on here as ever been stopped & fined for not having a ticket

PJune 8th 2009.

Question... Why not have the Oyster card system, like in London? So much easier than always having to carry the exact change.

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

I was late on more than one occaision due to the ticket machines not working. Thankfully I had a decent boss. Mainly because he used it himself and knew how bad it was.

Metrolink LoverJune 8th 2009.

Its a great system just undermined by a number of contractual issues and awful legacy systems (ticket machines, duff trams etc.). Security hasnt been the same since GMPTE binned the Police from the depot. Inspectors will never be able to deal with the abusive and threatening stuff that goes on, their job is to check that people have valid tickets to travel - simple as that.

east lancsJune 8th 2009.

Erm, you need to walk under the bridge and go round the back. I can assure you Cornbrook has an exit/entrance!

Jack BauerJune 8th 2009.

An Oyster Card just makes my job easier.

GilJune 8th 2009.

some yrs age whilst visiting Melbourne I used the Tram service mostly at week ends. On those accasions friendly Aussies were astonished when I bought a tkt [there is a machine on the Tram] saying "why waste money Mate ,there are no Inspectors on duty at weekends "I was told that fare evasion was approx 50 % but that Melbourne Council was happy to absorb as the Trams were rgd'd as a public service! Can Mr Purdy tell us what is the current estimate of Fare Evasion in Manchstr?

AnonymousJune 8th 2009.

But Darren you can buy a combined ticket for tram and bus but its is a little expensive. The No 2 (Green) free bus will get you near a lot of places on the west side of the City Centre and quite a lot of First buses run into Piccadilly which will accept your Day Bus Card.

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