What the media saidPage last modified/checked: Saturday, 02 October, 2004
Before reviewing how the media responded to the new neighbourhood fare structure, it should be pointed out that the critisism it created was by no means an isolated affair. During the 1980's, Melbourne's transport seemed to be in almost constant strife and thus a strong focus for media attention, who seized on everything they could. Many of the stories were a mix of clashing Government policies, Union resistance and even community backlash. Change was viewed with suspicion, but changes to the system was precisely what the M.T.A. had been created to achieve, in order to try and keep the metropolitan transport operations viable. The new suburban fare structure thus became one more target for the media to add to their "string of debarcles" that made good print.
An early and vague indication of what shape a new fare system might take appeared in "The Age" at the end of June 1982 in an insight review of Mr. Crabb's portfolio and read "by October, the Minister plans to have a new fare structure operating in Melbourne. Not another completely new structure that will take a long time to get used to, but an extension of the present one, more universal or as the transport boffins say: multi-modal".
A later indication that a new form of ticketing was close, and so were increased fares, appeared in "The Herald" of 30th August 1983. It read "Public transport authorities had allowed a fare increase in this years State budget". It provided no details, but finished "A team of experts has been working on restructuring the fare system almost since Labor came to power last year. A number of proposals are known to have been rejected by Mr. Crabb. Mr. Crabb, who has ordered the team to revise constantly its proposals, is determined to rid the system of anomolies".
Finally, when the State budget was handed down in September 1983, so to were deatils of the new metropolitan fare structure. The best presentation of these appeared in "The Age" of Thursday 22nd September 1983. See Image 1 (97k file)and Image 2 (157k file).
In the preceeding weeks, some local papers had also been able to provide an outline of the new fare structure, mostly via information from local Government members. The launch on Sunday 13th November wasn't something the newspapers could glean on, so it took Monday to ignite the issue and for the next three days it burnt fiercely. By Friday it had largely extinguished itself. A range of teething problems were brought to light but the biggest complaint was, predictably, increased fares and the prospect of further fare hikes in an uncomfortably short time. This fear was bought about by a marketing stunt involving weekly tickets and is detailed in the next section. "The Age" of Tuesday 15th November was particularly good at summing up the less than hoped for acceptance of the new ticketing system - right across the front page "Met's day two produces queues of complaining commuters". From that edition was this simple Tandberg sketch that captures events with wit:
Early the following week, some newspapers carried letters to the editor from souls who had taken the time to broaden their views based on a week of experience. The system came in for another round of critisism from late January as parents encountered confusion with purchasing new neighbourhood based student passes for 1984 and many were not happy at paying (in some cases) quite a lot more for their childrens school travel requirements.