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.

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

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.

Andrea Arathoon – Station Officer, Sandringham Station

Tell us about your role and what a normal day on the network looks like for you at the moment.

As a station officer, I work in the booking office to help our passengers. Sandringham station has a signal box, so I also assist with safe-working signalling duties. If I’m working the morning shift, I also help make sure we get the four trains that have been stabled overnight out on the network on time, from 5.05am.

Have you noticed any change among passengers as people return to public transport in greater numbers?

Understandably, people are a bit cautious. You can see it in the way they are more reluctant to touch things. Every train that comes into Sandringham station gets sanitised before it goes back out on the network again, and the common areas and equipment at the station are getting wiped down regularly during the day as well, so we know that we are helping keep our passengers safe.

What’s your message to people contemplating a return to public transport?

We know our passengers are now more aware of keeping physical distance from others, but we are running our trains all day, so you can pick some of the services that run at quieter times of day. Pick a time that suits you and give it a try. And we have got extra disinfecting and sanitising services taking place every day, so you can feel safe.

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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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Jamie McCracken – Authorised Officer, Glenhuntly

Tell us about your role and what a normal day on the network looks like for you at the moment?

My current daily routine involves travelling the network and advising people to touch on their myki because we will soon be introducing COVID Safe ticket checking. We are also doing ticket checks at designated platform tram stops and checking passengers’ tickets as they alight.

Have you noticed any change among passengers as people return to public transport in greater numbers?

Passenger numbers are definitely starting to pick up. People are starting to return to “normal” Melbourne life, visiting restaurants and bars, shopping and enjoying everything our city has to offer. It’s a strange feeling going from seeing a vacant Bourke Street Mall or empty footpaths along Swanston Street to seeing people out and about.

What’s your message to people contemplating a return to public transport?

If you are thinking about jumping on a train, tram or bus to go out and enjoy your favourite restaurant or bar, catch a band, or just get out and explore our wonderful city again, I say go for it. Cleaners are regularly wiping down vehicles, the Night Network is back, and there are enough services to ensure overcrowding isn’t an issue.

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Manoj Daniel – Authorised Officer, Glenhuntly

Tell us about your role and what a normal day on the network looks like for you at the moment?

There are fewer passengers on the network at the moment, but numbers are slowly and steadily increasing.

The physical distancing and cleaning announcements are adding value to the travel experience and is reassuring for passengers.

Have you noticed any change among passengers as people return to public transport in greater numbers?

Passengers are more aware of their physical distance and appear to let a tram pass if they are not comfortable with the number of people on it. This is more noticeable on the St Kilda Road corridor.

What’s your message to people contemplating a return to public transport?

Trams are a safe, clean and reliable mode of transport. Be assured the trams are deep-cleaned every night and there are cleaning teams at the terminuses cleaning the touch points as per DHHS guidelines.

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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 – Senior authorised officer

Tell us about your role and what a normal day on the network looks like for you at the moment?

A normal day starts with signing on, doing the daily running task, reading out updates and taking any refresher training regarding COVID Safe working, which includes safety requirements and reminding staff to not get complacent.

If conducting, I ensure the team is well briefed, maintains safe distance and carries alcohol wipes and hand sanitiser.

My onboard tram duties include overseeing staff and ensuring passengers are informed about carrying a valid myki and COVID Safe ticket checking.

Have you noticed any change among passengers as people return to public transport in greater numbers?

Most passengers seem to be happy and glad to be out and about and working. I noticed a big spike in people using their mobile phone to touch on.

What’s your message to people contemplating a return to public transport?

Trams are safe and clean. Use the new PTV app to plan your journey and have your myki or mobile myki ready to touch on.

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Steve Gauci – Station Host, Yarraville Station

Tell us about your role and what a normal day on the network looks like for you at the moment.

I’ve been a host at Yarraville station for about two years. You’ll see me on the platform between 6am and 10am, Monday to Friday. It’s been a bit of a roller coaster but it’s been my job to welcome our passengers every morning, keep them informed about how our services are running, and help them catch their train safely and smoothly.

Have you noticed any change among passengers as people return to public transport in greater numbers?

I’m so used to seeing regular and familiar faces, that it has been a bit strange to not see the same people every day. It feels like more people are returning now, and there’s definitely been an increase in passengers coming back. I’m seeing our early morning tradies, and some of our retail and corporate regulars, and it’s been great to be able to welcome them back. I think the fact that trains aren’t as full is helping people feel relaxed and comfortable.

I think returning to public transport is like when you haven’t ridden a bike for a while and it feels a bit strange, but you just have to give it a go once and it feels normal and easy again.    

What’s your message to people contemplating a return to public transport?

My message is to say ‘thank you’. Each of our passengers has played their part in getting Melbourne open and back on track again, every time they wore a mask or washed their hands. They’ve done a great job, and it is great to be able to welcome you back. I’ve had some of my regulars walk past when they were working from home just to say hi and check up on me, and that’s made a real difference to my day. So I’m looking forward to welcoming everyone back. Please drop by and have a chat!

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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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