Connex: a great example of systemic failure to care

Tell me, if you wanted your automated train ticket machines cleared, would you choose 823 AM on Monday as a good time to do it?  Even if ticket clearing takes 13 minutes? Even if, during those 13 minutes, four trains stop that station according to your schedule, and in fact 6 actually stop because two are running late?  Even if it was a station where not many trains stop, because it is not a primary station? Even if there is no other way for your passengers to buy tickets, unless they have enough coins (tickets start at $3.70)? Even if you regularly ended up with 10+ people waiting behind you?

No, neither would I, and yet between them, this is what Connex and Armorguard think is a good idea.  There is actually plenty of scope to clear the ticket machines at that station where not one single train stops there, even during weekdays.  I’ve written about Connex before because of their poor approach to user experience, and while they have often given me cause to do it again, I didn’t want this to be the “I hate Connex” blog, so I’ve left it alone. This particular example, though, was a  perfect demonstration of how little Connex cares about its’ customers’ user experience, particularly when you factor in the Connex guards who were present to prevent the “fare evasion” not being physically able to buy a ticket during peak hour might normally cause.

It comes as no surprise that Connex have lost their contract for the Melbourne metro train system, and while it is likely true that the State government needs to come to the party if services are genuinely to be improved, I won’t miss the callous disregard Connex shows for its customers, nor their pre-recorded message apologising “for any inconvenience caused”. There are things the new operator can do, even without government support, that will show that they are interested in their users’ experience of their system, and this more than anything will make a difference to that experience.

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