Public transport – good value for money?

Each and every one of us have used public transport at some point of our lives. Those who own a car usually treat public transport trips as a kind of entertainment or a relaxing way of getting from point A to point B. They can enjoy the occasional bus or tram drive because they are no longer responsible for the situation on the road. They are just passengers. However, the majority of public transport users are people who do not own a car, and for them, bus or tram is a daily reality. In this case, it is no longer a relaxation or entertainment technique, but rather a necessary evil. Why evil though? What is the bus/tram situation in Poznań? Are Poznań’s passengers content and satisfied with the service of transport they pay for? There are reasons to doubt that.

One of the biggest problems and annoying aspects of using public transport in Poznań is the issue of homeless people. Those who regularly use busses and trams know exactly what the problem is like or rather smells like. It is unfortunate and harsh to point to this issue, however it is becoming serious. In most of the cases, down-and-out people smell in a very unpleasant way. Very often, they sit, or lay, on chairs in busses or trams, sleep there and purposelessly travel from one end of the city to another. Obviously, they do not pay for their tickets and most of the time, the controllers do not care about that because it is problematic. Therefore, they just ignore those smelly passengers. We see no reaction from the bus or tram drivers too. Their responsibility is to drive and they are not really engaged in the quality of their service outside of their driving room. On the other hand, there are non-smelly passengers who pay significant amounts of money for their tickets, spend plenty of time in bus/tram environment and suffer because of the unbearable atmosphere. The matter is dilemmatic because citizens without cars have no other choice but using public transport. Paying high ticket prices, they should not be at risk of getting sick because of fare dodgers but they should be able to travel the city in sound conditions. To be fair, it is important to mention, that homeless people do have the possibilities to take care of their hygiene in public help centres. The only condition they need to fulfil in order to be welcomed in those care facilities  is sobriety. Conclusions are easy to be drawn.

Another aspect that exacerbates the quality of public transport, are the ghost busses and trams. The term ghost refers to single buss or tram courses that disappear from reality without any logical reason. Basing on the example, a group of passengers wait for a bus 91 that is supposed to arrive at a given bus stop at 9.36 a.m. To their surprise, the bus does not arrive. It is not late but it skips one or two courses. Therefore, the passengers wait in various weather conditions for a bus that comes 10 or 20 minutes later than it was supposed to. Automatically and unconditionally, they are late for their meetings, appointments, work and other arrangements they made.  Even though the frustration level gradually grows, there is absolutely nothing that they can do but wait. It is highly disrespectful of public transport administration to allow for such actions to happen. The issue is even more annoying from the passengers’ perspective when they consider the money they have to pay for being able to use public transport. Talking numbers, an average monthly ticket costs 107,00 zł. Having paid so much money, one should be given a full rather than a selective service.

Last but not least, is the aspect of ticket controllers. The idea of ticket control is that it is unexpected and surprising so that passengers are not prepared for it. Therefore, they always need to have their ticket in case they are asked to show it. What is more, it is just the regular rule of using public transport. You have to buy a ticket just as you have to buy gas to drive a car. What seems to be puzzling though, is the way ticket controllers from Poznań behave. Usually those are men, but not always, wearing casual sports clothes who randomly enter a given bus or a tram. As soon as the vehicle starts up, they sloppily take their controller’s identity cards out and ask for the tickets. They create a specific atmosphere of hunt, in the result of which, even if  passengers have tickets, they feel uncomfortable with the control process, as if their guilt of not having a ticket was taken for granted. What is more, ticket controllers are picky at the times they work more intensely. It is common to be controlled at the beginning of the month, when most of the passengers must remember to buy a new monthly ticket. Quite often people are late with the new purchase a day, or two because they simply forget about it. These are perfect conditions for ticket controllers to charge fines. Some people can say that, ticket controllers are necessary and their work guarantees that passengers actually pay for the public transport. It is widely believed that, people do not obey the rules unless they are under control and in a threat of a fine. To some extent this is a true claim. However, it would be highly appreciated if the atmosphere of the ticket control would not be hunt like. Wrocław is an excellent example of how to control people without making them feel guilty for no reason. First of all, Wrocław’s ticket controllers wear a uniform, what makes it easy to recognize them. They do not create an impression of covert controllers but they are open to the public. Plus, this looks really elegant and impressive. Since the character of their duty is more formal, the atmosphere they create when they enter a bus or a tram is authoritative yet friendly at the same time. Passengers feel duly respected instead of hunted down. Hence, not much effort is needed to change the attitude and atmosphere in the environment people spend so much time in.

Poznań’s public transport can be accused of many imperfections. Passengers are forced to travel in a company of smelly people, they have to consider the risk of being late for meetings, or missing a doctor’s appointment because a given bus just did not arrive. They also have to bear the atmosphere of hunt provided by ticket controllers. Imperfections seem to multiply as one analyses their experience. Just wonder, how many times you wanted to buy a ticket in a ticket machine and it was out of order, or maybe how many times a bus driver refused to sell you the ticket. On the other hand though, it is important to remember that without Poznań’s public transport, our lives would me much more difficult and it is a service we need and use. Even though complaining is easy, I believe issues discussed above are familiar to majority of public transport users and are no longer pure complaints but rather problems to be considered by city authorities. 

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