Monday, November 22, 2004

When the worse things in life are free

Central Station, Sydney

Today was something of a momentous one for us humble Sydneysiders (as I can call myself thanks to having paid my first rent). We all know commuters like a moan about transport, and those here are no exception. The Sydney train system has been a bone of contention for many years - with the usual problems of late, cancelled and overcrowded trains. They are run by CityRail and funded by the NSW State Government, who are of course the prime targets for commuter's wrath. Things have been building up for a while, and the NSW Premier Bob Carr has realised the terrible train system might well cost him the next State election. With this in mind (I don't think it was an entirely selfless act), today was free travel day on Sydney trains. All the ticket barriers were left open for 24hrs, and everyone could go anywhere for nothing - at a cost to the Government of $2m. Premier Carr said it was a 'charitable' decision to apologise to Sydneysiders for the terrible service.

The result was the same crappy service, but this time for free. The other night I used the trains to get to a party and had to wait 45mins for a three-minute journey because of delays. Apparently this is regular. Of course the trains were extra busy today - I was going to go to the end of the line at Berowra and go for a walk, but the weather wasn't good - so I settled for a day around the city taking as many trains as I could. It was quite good fun walking on and off trains at every opportunity - at one stage I got the train instead of walking one block. So my good intentions for the day became a case of musical trains - but I think over the course of the last few years I've walked around enough to give myself at least one day off...