What struck me the most on my arrival to Melbourne (aside from candy being called lollies) was how much care has been taken to create positive experiences for residents of the city.
On my first ride on the Yarra Trams, I noticed posters that announce performance and highlight the previous month’s statistics for delivery and punctuality. When tram service was interrupted for White Night, guides in vests helped passengers understand their travel options. I learned that Yarra Trams also has a formal compensation code, which allows passengers to claim a refund when performance targets for punctuality and reliability are not met.
Beyond the trams I’ve seen many little things, like the placard on the bathroom wall at Federation Square which has a text message short code in case you wish to give feedback on cleanliness via your mobile phone.
All these examples signal to me that someone has thought about what it’s like to for a resident to navigate the city. Perhaps they imagined themselves as a tram passenger, and attempted to comprehend common commuter motivations and frustrations. This is a great first step to designing better services. For governments and large institutions, it’s a huge stride, and can take time. From what I’ve seen so far, Victoria is far along on that journey.
But assuming a citizen mindset is not a magical fix. Once you better understand and empathize with a citizen’s experience, there’s still the long path of how best to improve the service, and then the longer track to implement enhancements. It can take many iterations, with constant feedback from citizens, to make progress.
Along the way it can help to have a compass. I like Yarra Trams:
Our guiding principle for operating Melbourne’s tram network is to ‘Think Like a Passenger’ -Yarra Trams Customer Service Charter