The season of change in mass transit


The season of change in mass TransitBy Steve Furmedge

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity, a time for war and a time for peace, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather, a time to plant and a time to uproot.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1-15

In all businesses, corporations and large organisations there is a time to metaphorically embrace this perspective – that life is about the feast and the famine. Through both seasons, equilibrium and continuity can be maintained by planning and risk mitigation.

Challenging conventional thought

There is considerable research and many differing opinions on how to achieve consistent service provision, growth and sustainability. At one stage ‘integration’ was in vogue, touted as the formula for success. But integration – bringing together separate elements to work together or form a whole unit – does not really measure success, which is about the outcome rather than the whole or the functionality. As an outcome-based concept, ‘synergy’ serves much better – the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect/result is greater than the sum of their individual effect/results.

Effect and results; that is the bottom line. All integration must have its effectiveness assessed through synergy. Just as the same words configured in a different order can change the meaning and effectiveness of a sentence, the test of synergy is in the outcome.

Take mass transit. Growing urban populations place ever-increasing demands on public transport systems, no more so than in Western Australia, which has the highest population growth in the nation. A booming economy, urban sprawl and a large expanse creates opportunities for high-volume public transport use. Public transport use carries with it community expectations about their personal safety and security. Though policing mass transit is problematic over a large network, the public do not lower their expectations on service or safety.

Within the community, increases in generalised crime, anti-social behaviour and a deteriorating social value system cannot be used as an excuse for diminishing the sustainability of public transport as the preferred mode of travel for the public. Public transport offers affordability, accessibility and mobility, which lends itself to a cross-section of society and social classes, a mix which can sometimes affect the comfort, enjoyment and perceptions of the patrons it services.

While acknowledging the diverse demographic of its customer base, the Public Transport Authority of Western Australia (PTA) strives for one basic expectation from which all patrons can derive confidence ‘To create an environment where members of the public can carry out their day-to-day activities without fear or disruption while using public transport systems.’

To achieve this, the PTA’s Security Services branch must help mitigate a range of threats which can include safety and security concerns (both real and perceived), spiralling costs as a result of fare evasion, and a lack of customer service or a reduction in standards. Just as terrorists will seek out soft targets to ensure a high degree of success, the anti-social elements in our society seek out the same sort of soft environments. Though this aberrant behaviour can manifest itself in a wide number of ways, there is also an element of commonality, which means the risk mitigation measures initiated by the PTA to address one behaviour can often help in the minimisation of another.

It is not just about the traditional guns, guards and gates philosophy of security, it is about a multi-faceted approach using a series of integrated measures. In this way a greater synergy is achieved by not limiting the mediums utilised and embracing the environmental factors of mass transit. These mediums complement each other and provide security layering and physical environs that enhance public confidence. READ MORE