An Open Letter to Metro Trains – I don’t pay to be on your trains

, Another rant from , 6 Comments

Hey Metro trains,

My name is Daylan and I am writing this on the 7.16pm Pakenham train – it arrived 8 minutes late.
Anyways, I have a confession…

I don’t pay to travel on your trains.

It’s honestly one of the worst systems I’ve ever traveled on of all the countries I’ve visited in my 30+ years on earth. It’s unreliable. More trains skip my station than stop so as they can meet your government bonuses for ‘on time’ services.  It’s patrolled by aggressive meatheads you employ who use excessive force on kids who don’t have a $1.70 ticket. The ticketing system we are forced to use is expensive and my card fails almost every month requiring me to get a new one. All in all there is a lot to despise about train travel in my city.

But, I don’t pay to be on your trains.

I spend about 12 hours a week on these trains. An hour and 15 mins each way. Every day. It’s over crowded and full of people who talk too loud on their mobile phones or listen to Rhianna loud enough for the carriage to hear through their ultra-cool Dr Dre Beats.

But, that’s okay, because I don’t pay to travel on your trains.

You do get my money though. Around $12 per day actually. I put it on my card and touch on and touch off like the many other thousands of people who make the same or similar trips as me each day.

But my $12 per day isn’t for the train ride. I’m paying for something much more enjoyable.

I pay for an hour and fifteen minutes to not talk to anyone before an entire day of talking to everyone. That time each morning is vital as to whether I have a good day or not; to zone out and not have to entertain or converse.

I pay for time to read books and comics. To immerse myself in a world that someone else has created from thoughts in their head. I get to meet new characters and follow their adventures or misadventures. All while being surrounded by people on their way to work. $12 to get to be part of an adventure every single day. Awesome!

I pay so I can browse the Internet and read about new inventions, thoughts from industry leaders, Reddit posts and photos of cats doing dumb things. Almost every bit of information available in the entire world is available via a little computer I carry around in my pocket all day and I get to access any of it for an hour and a half. $12 to find out anything in the world I want to know with the stroke of a few keys while traveling at 100kms! That was science fiction less than 20 years ago.

I pay so I can people watch. Not specifically of course because dudes who do that are creepy. But I get to see all sorts of people and wonder what they are heading on their way to do. No doubt most are off to mundane jobs or classes, but I don’t know these details. This is one hour I can be in a little cabin with a bunch of strangers who all have stories. I get to wonder what they might be.

I pay so I don’t have to be frustrated by sitting in gridlocked freeway traffic for over an hour, avoiding running up the back of someone’s car or paying $15 road tolls just to get to work.

I also pay so as I can avoid have the aforementioned frustrated drivers aim their vehicles at me while I’m on my motorbike. Any day that doesn’t result in someone trying to murder me with their car because they hate being stuck in traffic is a good day. Definitely a day worth investing $12 in.

I pay so I can get to my place of work where I work with a bunch of people I actually like being around who also work for a company I actually enjoy working for doing work I actually really enjoy doing. $12 to get to a place like that each day is a pretty good investment.

And later in the day, I can get whisked away back to a home I love being in with my beautiful girlfriend and excited pups waiting for me, and it’s all included in the original investment I made earlier in the day! What a bargain.

I could get it for free I know, but my $12 helps not only me get all that cool stuff I mentioned above, but it also helps everyone around me get some of the same things if they want to.

So no, I don’t pay for a train ride. I’m paying for everything that train ride allows me to do. Some would perceive this as ‘the daily grind’, but personally, I get to do some stuff I really enjoy doing because of this ‘grind’. Stuff I would really have trouble finding the time to do.


So, why am I writing this to you Metro?

Well, pretty much because you try relatively unsuccessfully to convince people to tolerate your performance and service, yet never attempt to remind your customers of the good things. The core reason of why they are in that cramped, little, germ filled cabin that’s 10 minutes behind schedule in the first place.

TV & cinema ads, billboards and bus shelter images – your big messages are don’t fare evade, don’t get killed, we have security to prevent you from getting stabbed. Jeez!  Thanks for that.

Here’s an idea, maybe try to give people a reason to enjoy the service you (sometimes) provide, not a constant reminder that they tolerate it begrudgingly because they have no other choice.

I use this system everyday and I can find a million positive things to say about it even though it is thoroughly terrible. There are always gonna be things that annoy people who travel on a system this broken, but your marketing seems to enhance these issues.  You always seem to be in brand protection mode, but never in brand building mode.

The service you offer gives me something positive, yet you rarely capitalise on the positives. I’m no Don Draper, but that’s bad marketing.  I’ve just given you 600+ words of positivity and there is no doubt many, many more out there that you don’t seem to utilise.

I don’t pay to be on your trains and neither do a lot of people whose money you receive. What are you gonna do about it?

A passenger who likes comics and window seats

Don Draper


Who the hell is Daylan Pearce?

Daylan is a digital strategist for branding agency Principals. Looking after digital and customer experience projects, Daylan has been featured in The New York Times,, B&T, ProBlogger and more. He once ate 13 McDonald's cheeseburgers in under 5 minutes, but strongly advises against anyone else ever trying that. He also feels slightly odd when writing about himself in the third person for blog biography summaries.


6 Responses

  1. Ronald Hird

    May 10, 2013 9:39 AM

    Daylan, you continue to show your brilliance! What a great read, loved every word of it …….and if doesn’t touch the heart (oops, not sure if they have one of those) of those prawns at Metro, then they really are moronic. Fantastic stuff, keep ’em comin’, love ’em.

  2. Peter Jones

    May 10, 2013 11:50 AM

    Hi Daylan,
    Great piece, really “common sense” which as always, and I suspect ESPECIALLY at Metro Trains, is really uncommon.
    Public transport doesn’t have to be marketed as “Public Transport”. It is now (thanks to technology), as you point out, about the options it gives you, and benefits to the planet!
    Peter Jones

  3. David Wright

    May 10, 2013 4:26 PM

    Hi Daylan, another great read. I’ll think if this article next Tim I’m stuck in one of those cramped little germ filled cabins. I too like window seats. Cheers