Public Transportation in Melbourne
As an irregular job, dispatchers in Caulfield Station had to work at least 6 hours every day from 10th to 12th March, due to track work of trains.
“My main work is telling bus drivers when to leave,” said Jenny Wernowski, on her second day in this working turn. “Sometimes I also inform commuters about bus timetables.”
Ms Wernowski, in her fifties, has been doing this for several years. Counting working days’ number with her fingers, she said she had to work seven days in a month.
Caulfield Station are crowded when buses replace trains. Passengers need to catch V/Line buses here if their destinations are Dandenong, Pakenham or more distant places.
In Caulfield Station, there are usually two informers working in turn from 6 am to 6 pm. They shifted work at 12.
“Many people missed the bus and then got angry,” she said, looking at the time highlighted by pens on the document. “Some just didn’t check it on the website.” Others, like Wernowski herself, don’t know how to access this on phones.
But the timetable online is not completely reliable. Wernowski said it was changing all the times because of uncertain traffic and “really annoying” conditions.
On 11th afternoon, information about routes — Traralgon — Melbourne via Morwell, Moe & Pakenham — on Google couldn’t match with documents presented on the PTV website.
There was about a 15-minute gap between those two, and this might make passengers from trains miss the bus.
Wernowski didn’t explain why this happen frequently, while she guessed the major reason might be the bus and the train don’t work well with each other.
“I have seen it several times when the bus just left the train arrived here,” she said. “They had to wait for another hour. It’s a quite long time, then some became mad at me.”
Just like the train, although it didn’t arrive on time, the bus would only stay for a few minutes. “I have to follow the rules. Once time is up, I need to tell drivers to leave,” Wernowski said.
Syeda Mazhars, an international student in the University of Melbourne, also complained about the time gap of bus-train changing.
Syeda said she “would rather ride the bicycle than using the public transport”, after experiencing a 30-minute wait transferring from bus to train.
Wernowski drives to Caulfield herself every time. Workers not from Melbourne like her has to find a place to live near the station for several days until the train line is normal.
Only responding to short-term jobs, Wernowski doesn’t want to work too much. Sometimes the bus replacement may last at least fortnight. She considers up to four days as acceptable.
The time gap between two buses might be an hour. She went to her car to pick up her lunch, a sandwich with a bottle of water, in the parking lot, just opposite the station.
“I can’t leave too far because I have no idea when the bus will come. I need to stay here in case those can’t find someone to ask about schedules,” she added.
The condition may be better, Wernowski said, once those train projects are finished.
“I don’t know how to solve this, and my work isn’t to think about it,” she said, refusing to comment on the projects. “I just don’t want to lose my job. It’s important.”