I’ve pulled into the Victoria Harbour terminus and set down all of my passengers. Another tram is at the end of the line, waiting until their time to enter the stop. I’m sitting alone in the passenger saloon on my phone ordering a pizza so that it’s ready for my dinner break. A woman comes up to my window.
Woman: *aggressive knocking on side of tram*
Me: *hangs up on pizza order, unlocks door and walks onto platform*
Woman: “Why isn’t the (other) tram coming up to the stop?”
Me: “The driver has to wait for their time first.”
Woman: “But I’ve been waiting forever!”
Me: “The PM peak period has finished, so trams are reducing in frequ—”
Woman: “But the (electronic arrival times) sign said two minutes, then ‘now,’ and now it says 10 minutes! What’s going on?!”
Me: “The sign shows arrival times as opposed to departure times, which I know is not helpful at a termin—”
Woman: “I don’t care about signs. I just wanna get on a tram!”
Me: *loses patience*
Me: “Look—you’re firing questions at me and then talking over me when I try to answer. I’m sorry; I can’t help you.”
I look at the timetable out of curiosity. She had waited, at most, 11 minutes.
Other tram: *pulls into stop*
Me, in my mind: “FFS, that could have happened a few moments earlier.”
Me: *gets back on phone to order pizza*
I’m annoyed by this interaction for two reasons. One reason is that I unnecessarily lost my cool, probably because I was trying too hard to actually inform rather than just appear to be listening—it is obvious in hindsight that she just wanted someone at which to vent rather than someone with answers, despite many questions being asked.
The other reason is that the setup of the electronic signage at tram termini is…well…less than ideal.
The signs I’m talking about look like this, and they show the estimated amount of time until the tram arrives at the stop. At any location other than a terminus, this is fine because the tram is going to depart at around the same time. At a terminus however, time of arrival isn’t necessarily time of departure: the tram may turn around immediately or, depending on the time of day, it may not leave for another 30 minutes.
The result is that the screen often flashes “NOW” long before the tram is due to depart, and is showing something like “4” when the tram is actually ready to depart. Both cause confusion and frustration for passengers—I can tell you this first-hand.
Some of these screens intermittently flash a message to the effect of, “these are times of arrival from the city; check the posted timetable for departure times.” It would seem that this message is not being understood or absorbed though, if indeed it is seen at all by most people looking at the screen.
Also, the pizza was delicious.