It’s time for The Melbourne Urbanist to start winding down for the holiday season. After this week, posts will flow to a trickle or even peter out while I take a holiday.
The Melbourne Urbanist has now been going for over nine months so it’s timely to pause for a moment and take stock.
The blog now gets around 2,500 ‘views’ each week. WordPress, who provide the blogging platform, say this count excludes automated searches. The busiest month was November, with 10,721 views and the trend continues upwards. That’s not quite up there with the likes of NineMSN, but I think it’s pretty respectable for a blog with a defined topic and relatively narrow geographic ambit.
It compares well with some other blogs – for example, former ANU economics professor (and now Federal MP) Andrew Leigh, who’s been blogging daily since 2004, says he gets similar numbers. It seems many of the topics addressed by The Melbourne Urbanist “travel well” – they have a reasonably broad appeal.
About a third of views are of the home page where visitors presumably scroll down and scan the first part of each post. However I measure the popularity of each individual post by the number of ‘reads’ i.e. the number of readers who click through to “read the rest of this entry”. I interpret this to mean the reader was interested enough to keep going. Read the rest of this entry »
Personal safety on trains is a big election issue. Both major parties have promised to increase transit police numbers and to return more staff to stations.
This is not a beat up. Fear about personal safety – whether real or imagined – could seriously undermine usage of Melbourne’s trains, especially in off-peak periods. There’s a danger that negative perceptions will reach a ‘tipping point’ and assume epidemic proportions.
If the money proposed to be spent on building and operating a Doncaster rail line were instead devoted to improving security on the entire train system, I’ve little doubt it would give a much bigger pay-off in terms of replacing car trips with train.
But that highlights the other big issue with security – it adds significantly to the cost of running the train system.
The Government has promised an extra 100 transit police and 180 staff to provide a “presence” at all metropolitan stations. The Opposition is promising two armed police protective services officers on every one of Melbourne’s 200 plus stations after 6pm.
The Auditor General says there isn’t really a problem – passengers are apparently over-reacting. The number of crimes on the rail system remained constant over the last five years even though patronage grew 50%. Crime fell from 45 offences per million boardings in 2005-06 to 33 in 2008-09.
Yet in spite of these favourable numbers, perceptions of personal safety on trains and at stations have deteriorated over the same period. The proportion who rated the rail system as safe declined from 55% in 2005-06 to 51% in 2008-09. In contrast, perceptions of personal safety on buses were constant at around 71% over the period.
Train users might be delusional or irrational, but I doubt it. Read the rest of this entry »