Thank you Victoria

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On behalf of all Victorians, we'd like to say thank you for being patient and kind to our transport staff who are keeping the state moving during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Our transport staff are making sure that those of us who need to travel can do so safely. They're also keeping Victoria's supply chain operating efficiently.

This means that our healthcare workers can still get to and from medical centres, our supermarket and pharmacy staff can get to work and ensure shelves continue to be stocked and people have access to essential supplies.

From running trains, driving trucks, operating trams and moving buses, our transport family has been working around the clock to keep Victoria moving.

For this, we want to say thank you.

Thank you for doing your job, day in and day out. Thank you for your customer service and positive attitude. Thank you for being flexible and responding to our changing needs. Thank you for being a workforce Victorians can rely on.

For anyone travelling on the network, here's how you can say thank you:

  • Offer a wave to our transport staff
  • Wear a face covering for the duration of your journey
  • Wash your hands before and after travelling
  • Keep a safe distance from our transport staff and other passengers
  • Travel outside of peak times
  • Top up your myki before you travel and use cashless payments
  • Show your appreciation for exceptional customer service

We ask all our passengers to only travel for a permitted purpose in line with Victoria's roadmap to reopening.

Our public transport staff

Get to know more about some of our public transport staff on the network who are making sure that those of us who need to travel can do so safely.

Andy Luu - Transdev bus driver

Bus driver Andy has been with Transdev for more than three years, but he counts himself as one of the new guys, with many of his colleagues boasting careers of several decades. Formerly with Toyota, Andy loves being behind the wheel of a vehicle capable of carrying over 60 passengers.

What do you love about your job?

I’m a permanent stand-in driver and I enjoy it because you get to do different things every day. You get to be on the road and you get to be in the office helping out with paperwork. It’s great. Overall, I actually enjoy driving the bus. You get to meet all different kinds of people from different backgrounds.

What’s changed for you since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

It is very tough out there right now. People are actually dying from this disease and I feel sad for these people. We’ve just got to be cautious in what we’re doing, whether you’re at home alone or with your family members. When you’re driving, you have to give space to other people. You’re not only protecting yourself, but you’re protecting the other person as well. I think we’re going to get out of this, so we’ve got to be strong and be positive.

Since coronavirus (COVID-19), have you noticed any change in your passengers?

I think everyone is aware of what’s happening now. They’re actually keeping their distance from others on the bus. When they get on, they’re looking for a place to settle down that’s away from other people. They’re boarding from the rear door.

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Beth McKinnon - Yarra Trams customer service

Tram passengers will see Beth’s smiling face out on the platforms every day, making announcements, providing safety advice, and keeping people informed. As a valued member of the Yarra Trams customer service team, Beth loves working at Melbourne’s special events, helping to connect passengers with trams during the Australian Open and the Grand Prix.

What’s changed for you since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The days are very quiet now. Usually this platform is packed to the rafters, but at the moment it’s very quiet and very different to what I’m used to. The tram drivers aren’t as busy, so I’ve been making sure to wave to them and say hi, just to keep them going.

Have you noticed any change in your customers during this time?

I have seen a lot of people reminding each other to physically distance. Sometimes when I’ve been on the tram, a few people have said, “make sure you keep your 1.5m distance.” It’s good to see the public helping each other out and reminding everyone to keep safe.

What other tips can keep both passengers and public transport staff safe?

Have your myki ready and as you’re entering the tram. Quickly look for a place to sit because you don’t want to be standing in the doorway where people enter and exit, just to eliminate as much contact with people as possible.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing during coronavirus (COVID-19). Have you had any positive feedback?

It was probably about midnight and I was working near the Alfred Hospital. I started chatting to a nurse who said she doesn’t drive and relies on the trams to get to and from work. Then she said thank you for running the service so she can get to work. She said she feels safe knowing the trams are still running and we’re here to help her out.

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Derek Howarth - Yarra Trams driver and trainer

As both a tram driver and driver trainer, Derek loves that every day at work can be totally different. Originally from the UK, he considers Yarra Trams to be the heartbeat of Melbourne and takes a lot of pride in driving tourists around one of the most liveable cities in the world.

Tell me a bit about your role.

I’ve been with the company for coming up to eight years now and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I have been a tram driver and now I’m a full-time driver trainer. I get a lot of satisfaction out of upskilling our drivers and I appreciate the positive feedback from them.

Since coronavirus (COVID-19) have you noticed any change in your passengers?

I suppose in a way, physical distancing has affected how we interact with each other. You’ve just got that element of trust and respect. I’ve found that our passengers are respecting the barriers at the front of the tram and giving drivers their distance. They all seem to be respecting each other and trying to do the right thing. In a closed environment, it can be a bit difficult, but people are more aware of their situation, their near surroundings, rather than being closed off reading their phones. They make eye contact with others. Small conversations strike up, which is what you probably wouldn’t have got before.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing during coronavirus (COVID-19). Have you had any positive feedback?

Generally, I’ve found the outcome has been positive. We’re an essential service, and we’re taking a lot of essential workers to their workplace. At Essendon along the hospital corridor, where they get off the train, there’s no real way they can get to the hospitals apart from the tram, which is literally a door-to-door service. So, having the reliability of the same timetable, they’ve got that sense of trust. They don’t have to worry about getting to work, they can rely on that.

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Jake Smethurst - Metro network control centre

Inside Metro’s network control centre, Jake sits at the heart of our operations. While most of us are staying home, Jake and his team are supporting passengers who need to travel by train to essential roles, supermarkets and medical appointments. The team is keeping passengers informed to improve their experience with Metro.

Tell us about your role and what a normal day looks like for you.

What we do here is communicate any issues or events that are impacting the network through internal channels for our own business, or via Twitter and the live on-board announcements on our trains. We also work with PTV and the authorised officers, and we investigate alleged incidents on the network, so no day is the same.

What’s changed for you since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

There have been changes to the way we work here, we’re keeping a distance from each other and avoiding contact as much as we can. We’re constantly cleaning our desks and computers as we have to share them, so that’s a high priority. We also get our temperature checked when we get to work, and obviously it’s phone calls and video conferences for any meeting.

Have you noticed any change in your passengers since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We have CCTV across the whole network to monitor passenger movement. There’s definitely been fewer passengers and their behaviour has changed from what I’ve seen. They seem to keep to themselves more, they’re all wearing masks and gloves, they’re standing away from each other and not sitting next to each other, they’re not using cash anymore. Basically, they’re doing their bit to limit the spread.

Have you witnessed or participated in any small acts of kindness?

We have noticed passengers going to the aid of other passengers who are ill, which is a good example of people still being willing to help their fellow passengers out when somebody needs assistance. Our staff at Sunbury put a message for the passengers and basically it said: “We’re all in this together, we’ll all get through it. Let’s take it day by day and we love our passengers” so it’s a nice positive message for everyone.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing during coronavirus (COVID-19). Have you had any positive feedback?

We do see quite a lot of positive messaging on Twitter coming from our passengers who are very happy that we’ve increased our cleaning on the trains and across the network. They’re also grateful we’re still running a service, we’re still able to get those essential workers around or those people who need to go to important appointments. Passengers are also happy to see the smiling faces of our frontline staff at stations.

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Peter Holden - Metro leading station assistant

If you’ve ever been waiting for a train at Flinders Street Station, there’s a strong chance you’ve heard the dulcet tones of leading station assistant Peter Holden. The former sports broadcaster is doing his part to keep Melbourne moving during these challenging times.  A familiar and reassuring sight for those who need to travel, Peter is out on the platforms every day making announcements, providing safety advice, and keeping people informed on their journey with Metro.

Tell us about your role and what a normal day looks like for you.

There’s not really a normal day for me at Flinders Street because I could either be standing on the ticket barriers, platform announcing, platform roving, or covering in the control room, so there’s a lot of variety in the position.

What’s changed for you since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

It’s a little bit eerie because we’re missing what would be the normal peak and through the middle of the day with people doing their shopping, part-time workers, tourists going through. That kind of crowd in the middle of the day is not there because everyone’s been encouraged to stay home, so it can throw you off a little bit with that human interaction missing. From a professional point of view, you still have to do your job to the same standard as you would if you had 1,000 people on the platform and it was chock-a-block during an afternoon peak.

Have you noticed any change in your passengers?

Passengers are keeping their distance. That’s the one thing I’ve noticed. You can see everyone spacing out along the platform. When they jump on the train, a lot more people are standing than electing to sit even though seats are available. There are a few little quirks, like people using their elbow to open a train door. I think everyone is taking more care of each other and are being more respectful.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing during coronavirus (COVID-19). Have you had any positive feedback?

Chatting with staff in our lunchroom, they’ve had compliments from passengers and I think it’s because we’re just there, we’re a human presence. A lot of people are in isolation and their human interaction has decreased significantly. Just having our staff out there for the everyday person, it’s “oh, I get to see somebody else.” It’s so underestimated, just seeing another human being. I think because we’re a regular feature, when everything is not so regular right now, it can be a comfort to people.

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Pru Rayner - bus driver

Pru is new to the public transport network and is loving her role as a bus driver. She is proud to be making her own contribution to the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19) by taking essential workers like nurses to the hospitals where they work as part of her daily routine.

Tell us a bit about your role.

My role as a bus driver overall is to ensure community safety. In my job, I’m constantly multi-tasking. So, I’ve got the traffic to manage, I’ve got the people to manage, I’ve got to manage my own safety. It’s a role that has so much to it that one day is never the same as the other. I have to remain approachable so people can ask questions about where they need to go and I’m always willing to help. I think the best part about my role is the conversations I have with people that come from a simple question. I love seeing them again and they tell me about how they got to their destination last time. It’s rewarding when they come back on your bus and say, “thank you!”

There are fewer passengers out on the network at the moment. Has your role changed as a result of this?

In some ways it’s a lot quieter. But the community involvement is a lot more intense because we all protect each other. Some of the customers are checking in on me, saying “how are you going?” Sometimes they’re even willing to assist me. I had to get the wheelchair ramp out the other night and everyone jumped up saying, “we’ll help you, we’ll help you!” And then when the passenger in the wheelchair had to get off later, I had even more people again offering to help with the ramp. It was just so nice.

Have you noticed a change in your passengers since coronavirus (COVID –19)?

I guess with everything that’s going on in the world at the moment, everyone’s a bit quieter. So, every time a passenger gets on the bus, I always do a big “hello, how are you going?” and that starts people talking. So, before you know it, I feel like I’m driving around a little community and everyone’s chatting to each other. I’ve seen people showing other people what they’ve bought at the shop, and we all see each other again on the bus the next time, so we’ve become a little community. I feel so privileged that I have this opportunity.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing during coronavirus (COVID-19). Have you had any positive feedback?

I definitely have had people say to me, “it’s an amazing job you do, great job, thank you so much, your work’s really appreciated.” Things like that. I think wow there’s so much more to this job than you think, because it is amazing. Even though I don’t know the people and it’s only a really small thing, it does mean a lot. It makes public transport use so much more friendly and safe and accessible for anyone.

I drive some nurses to the Alfred Hospital regularly. They all talk about, “without this service I don’t know what I’d do.” I really appreciate it. One lady does night shift, as do I. I see her and say, “hop on the bus, we’ll get you home.”

How does it feel knowing you are contributing to the fight against coronavirus by getting those nurses to work?

I feel lucky that I’m in this role. I’m very proud that I can have a part of helping in some way in the community with the virus, in a bigger way than just being a bus driver, I’m actually getting the nurse to her job. So, I feel proud and happy that I can assist.

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Russell Porter - bus driver

Since the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, bus driver Russell has a new appreciation for the importance of his role in the community. His passengers rely on him every day to access essentials like food and medical supplies.

What’s changed for you since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

There’s so much less traffic now. I was at Dandenong Station, and I’d just come up from Frankston. I was just getting ready to go and my time check was saying it was time to depart. But I could see that there was a train arriving in three minutes. I thought, the next bus is 30 minutes away, this is a Sunday service. And I thought, you know what I might just wait those three minutes and just see if anyone comes off that train for the bus. I was sort of sweating on it myself, I wasn’t used to waiting that long. But a lady did get on the bus from that train and she was just so thankful I’d waited. She said, I didn’t think I was going to make the bus. She was working at an elderly health centre. She had a full shift in front of her and now she could get to work on time without having to rush around. She was really appreciative, so that was a good thing to do.

What measures have been put in place to keep you and your passengers safe?

We’ve got hand sanitiser and things. I think that’s the way to go. It’s been great, the guys are all consistent with it through all the depots. When we change over drivers, we wipe the steering wheels down, and that’ll be an ongoing thing. I can see that continuing [after the pandemic].

Have you noticed any change in your passengers?

When you pull up to a bus stop, you’re in auto mode and you go to open the front door, but passengers know to board through the back door. Once they get on the bus, they’ve been really good with each other, very polite and giving each other space.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing during coronavirus (COVID-19). Have you had any positive feedback?

I was travelling down from Dandenong to Frankston, I had someone coughing the whole way. I was looking in the mirror, but I couldn’t see who it was and I was thinking, someone’s not very well. More passengers were getting on, and I could still hear this cough, cough, coughing. I thought, we are all going to get sick. I could see everyone moving away from the coughing down the back of the bus. We got to Frankston after 40 minutes of coughing and I stopped the bus. A woman got off and said, “That was me coughing, I’m really sorry driver. I’ve got asthma and I’ve got to get my Ventolin, I’m out of it altogether. I really needed this bus to get my Ventolin.” And I said, “You don’t have to be sorry, that’s what we’re here for.” It was really good. That made me stop and think for that moment, this is the only way. At that time, everyone was considering not having transport around, they were questioning it. I felt proud and I was quite happy and I told her not to apologise for it.

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Shanky Singh - Yarra Trams senior authorised officer

After nearly a decade at Yarra Trams, senior authorised officer Shanky knows Melbourne like the back of his hand. Respected for his friendly and professional approach, Shanky is here to help passengers on their journeys across the tram network.

What’s changed for you since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

It’s been quiet, but I’m glad I’m out and about, working as much as I can. It’s good to see people are staying home and the essential workers are out and about going about their jobs, so it’s been really good so far.

What other tips can keep both passengers and public transport staff safe?

Stay home. If it’s really essential, public transport is there for you. Use it as you please. I would encourage passengers to have their mykis ready and maintain physical distance as they get on the tram.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing during coronavirus (COVID-19). Have you had any positive feedback?

Last week, an elderly gent got on the tram and I noticed the people around him got up and moved to the back of the tram. I heard him yell out, “It’s ok guys, I don’t have the virus, just come back.” So I went over and had a chat to him. I asked him “how’s your day been?” and he got very emotional. He was telling me he hadn’t spoken to his family for a while, his grandchildren hadn’t come to visit him for a while and he started to tear up. Just having that five-minute chat with him, seeing how his day’s going, if he needs any help with anything, just encouraging him to be positive, he thanked me a lot. It made my day.

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Steve Gauci - Metro station staff

When Steve Gauci starts singing “Don’t worry, be happy” to waiting passengers at Yarraville Station, they can’t help but smile and sing along with him. In these trying times, and with fewer passengers on the network, Steve is a welcome relief for those who need to make essential journeys.

What does a normal day look like for you?

My day is from 6am till 10am Monday to Friday. Before the pandemic, there was a lot of meeting and greeting in the morning standing near the entrance. I’m also on the mic, telling customers to stay safe, keep behind the yellow line and trying to get them on to the trains as quickly as possible or helping them when they don’t know exactly where to go.

How has your role changed since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

While it hasn’t been as busy, I’ve been able to better educate people about how to use the myki machines and what options are available to them.

Have you noticed a change in your customers since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Normally, the customers would say “good morning” and continue on their merry way and that’s been fine, I love just doing that. Now there’s not as many people, they’ll stop and say, “how are you, what did you do on the weekend?” We have a good old conversation, so it’s been good. I might see a few customers out on their walk and they’ll say “hello, I’m missing coming to the station, how are you going?” They’re working from home and making an effort as part of their walk to come past the station to say hello, which has been really nice.

The idea that “we’re all in this together” is giving people a real sense of community. Have you noticed any small acts of kindness among your passengers?

People are being more interactive with each other and keeping more of an eye on the elderly we have around this area. I’ve had a couple of customers make me aware there are certain people not doing so well and just keeping tabs on them.

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Tamara Startin - Yarra Trams tram driver

For tram driver Tamara, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic means empty roads and more time to enjoy the beautiful sights of Melbourne, including the elephants at the zoo.

What does a normal day look like for you?

Not every day is the same, every day is a little bit different and takes you to a different part of town. I love driving Route 58 and seeing the Melbourne skyline as you coast on through, looking up at the buildings and over the bridges and coming through Toorak. It’s really nice at the moment because the roads are a little bit quieter so you get to actually coast a little bit more. And then it takes you all the way through Coburg, it’s lovely through Royal Park. And if you look sometimes, the elephants are out at the zoo. Melbourne is a beautiful liveable city, I really love it. And love my job.

What measures have been put in place to keep you and your passengers safe during coronavirus (COVID-19)?

We have lots of antibacterial wipes and hand sanitiser these days to make sure all our consoles are lovely and clean.

Have you noticed any change in your passengers during this time?

Most people are really nice and leave room for each other. That’s something you do see. When people step onto the tram, they have a good scan of “where am I going to sit that’s not going to be right next to someone else.” So, everyone’s really aware of their personal space and will often make room for someone else if they look like they’re taking up a bit too much room.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing during coronavirus (COVID-19). Have you had any positive feedback?

As a driver, when we’re helping elderly passengers with walkers or full bags of groceries onto the tram, they’re always so appreciative. That is one good thing about public transport users. Generally, when you do help out, you get the same smile and the same thank you. Anyone who needs assistance, they’re always really stoked when we help them. Thanks to all the passengers who still give me a smile or wave as we go by. We really love those little personal touches.

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Troy Levett - V/Line customer service officer

As a customer service officer and platform supervisor at V/Line, Troy is proud to be helping Victorians complete essential journeys during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Tell us a bit about your role.

I’m a customer service officer and a platform supervisor. My key role is to provide guidance and support to our customers, just to make sure that they can find their services and provide any information they require for their journey. We also have some technical duties, we look after the on-time departure of all the trains and liaise with the drivers and the conductors to make sure everything is safe and ready to go on time.

What’s changed for you since coronavirus (COVID-19)?

I come to work with a much deeper sense of pride because what I do is in some small way helping our customers get to and from their jobs, and right now that’s more important than ever because people who are still working are essential workers. I really feel that at the moment, dependability of service and continuity is more important than ever, just so customers don’t have something else to be anxious about. So, if we’re still here and we’re still doing our job, that is at least something the customers don’t have to worry about.

What measures have been put in place to keep you and your customers safe?

V/Line has been terrific. We’ve implemented a number of measures to keep both the customers and the staff safe, like creating space around the counters at the booking office and dramatically increasing the level of cleaning on our carriages, particularly the touch-points like handrails. We’re still providing all our usual services and all our usual carriages, which allows our passengers to spread out.

Have you noticed any change in your customers during this time?

We’ve noticed that our customers have been much more understanding and relaxed, generally a lot more friendly, more approachable. They see V/Line staff as people who are going through the same problems they are, they’re on their way to work and we’re at work and we’re all in this together. We have that unspoken connection which is kind of special I have to say.

The idea that “we’re all in this together” is giving people a real sense of community. Have you noticed any small acts of kindness among your passengers?

We had a young man in his twenties who had overheard an elderly lady asking us where her service was. Southern Cross is a large station and the platforms are some distance from each other. The young man offered to take her to service because that happened to be the service he was going for as well. That was quite unique.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing. Have you had any positive feedback?

I think our customers are grateful that we’re still there. I’ve had a customer say to me “thank you for still being here” because with everything going on at the moment, they’re grateful that we’re here and we’re here to help and that’s something they don’t need to worry about. I have to say it’s a joy to be able to give that level of service and receive such positive feedback right now.

We had a wonderful compliment from a lady who was visually impaired and trying to find her service. She was travelling from Geelong to Melbourne for an eye appointment and was feeling very anxious about being out and about during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. I offered to guide her to her service using physical distancing and my voice, so effectively I was talking to her the whole way to her train. She later provided really positive feedback that the anxiety that she felt was significantly reduced simply by a member of public transport staff engaging with her and taking her to her service while maintaining an appropriate distance. This feedback gave me the confidence that we’re doing the right thing by our customers.

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Warren Soans - Yarra Trams tram driver

A world away from Melbourne, tap-dancing tram driver Warren used to work on Bollywood movies in India. But he considers his job now to be one of the best there is.

Tell us what you love about your role.

Being a tram driver is a very satisfying job. To put it in a nutshell, if there was a list of the 10 best jobs in Victoria, this ought to be one of them for sure.

Since coronavirus (COVID-19), have you noticed any change in your passengers?

They’re conversing more with each other. Before, they’d sit down looking at their phones with their headphones in, all listening to music. You see now that they’re trying to interact with each other, talk to each other.

There are obviously fewer passengers out on the public transport network at the moment. Has this changed your role at all?

Without passengers, you feel a bit lost. It’s boring. I miss the passengers! I’m a person who loves to interact with them.

There are many people in the community who are grateful for the role our frontline public transport staff are performing. Have you had any positive feedback?

Oh yes. Many of them say because of you, we’re able to move from place to place and they’re very appreciative of that and very thankful for that. The passengers are all beautiful. And some of them go really out of their way to tell you “thank you”. When they get off and say “thank you, driver” you feel elated. You feel a sense of satisfaction that I’ve done my job.

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