Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why working on the trams is awesome

I know. It's been two weeks since my last posting. I've been pretty busy. My tweets have slowed a little too. I'm tired, but I'm still here. You know how when radio "personalities" go on holidays, they drag out the "best of" highlights because they're too cheap and scared to try anything different? Well, I've got some posts here I wrote a while ago. One of my followers suggested that I post the highs and lows of being a tram driver. Seeing as the Queen is here, I think I might start with the highs.

If you went by the media, working in public transport is some sort of awful, faceless nightmare of never-ending failure, abuse, violence, waste and political meddling. Rarely are there any "good" stories - perhaps a singing tram driver or something similar, perhaps even a political stunt here or there. However, after several followers expressing an interest in the industry and a lack of positive posts here, I thought it would be time to let you know what gets me out of bed each day.

The pay
Yes, the job pays well, and even though you don't say it during interviews, the pay is good. For a job that requires a license and a month's training, it pays very well. This is a reason why you have a lot of diversity amongst drivers - it beats driving a taxi hands down. We still have penalty rates for Saturdays (time and a half), Sunday (double time) and the epic public holidays (double time and a half - yes, 8 hours becomes 20 - half a week's work in one day). 

Conditions
Plenty of annual leave and RDOs. There's also the flexibility of the roster. First sign on is after 4am usually and the last tram rolls in around 2:30am on Fri/Sat, so there's plenty of different start times. Also, we have 2 days off out of 7, except it's not always Mon-Fri. Sometimes you can have Sat Wed off. Our weekend begins on Sundays for some reason that's never been made clear to me. We have special diaries made to account for this. It's weird.

Boss?
When you're out there on the road, you don't have a supervisor lurking over your shoulder. Yes, the vehicle is monitored and each passenger could be a potential complaint, but you're effectively your own master. However, with this freedom comes responsibility. The only time you really see a manager is when you're in trouble or they want something. 

Job Security
Yes, it's a secure job. One of the often-told stories is that you can only sack yourself. There is a strong union presence and while at times it feels like a closed shop to the extent that it's almost extortive, it's good to know there's a certain level of security. Transport Ministers come and go, companies running the system might come and go, but drivers are always there. You can work there for a year, or fifty. 

Unique Icon
Yes, it's a unique skill set that's pretty useless outside of inner-Melbourne, but each day you come to work, you get the chance to drive a major tourist icon. The locals might think it's terrible, but the tourists can often make your day. And don't forget to wave at the kids who always seem captivated by trams. In case you've been living under a rock, public transport is big news. 

The stories
Every day you hear them. About the car that flipped in the city. The taxi that almost hit alighting passengers. The junkies arguing over bills. The bum who smelled like death. The football crowds. The collisions. The dramas. The protests. The delays. Every driver has a bunch of stories that would fill a book. You see stuff that people won't believe.

Leave that shit at the gate
Once you've finished that shift, that's it. No work to take home. If you want to work on your day off for a bit of extra cash, you can if you want. If you want to work overtime, you can if you want. You can chase the cash or do the minimum. Either way, it ends at the gate. Unpaid overtime doesn't exist.

Helping people
It gives me a real buzz being able to help people out. The locals tend to take this for granted, but if you've ever been a passenger helping out a tourist, you'll know what I mean. Announcing a requested stop can bring out all sorts of appreciation and it makes my day. Knowing a few words of some different languages can also surprise people.

Seeing Police dealing with Dickheads
There's something special about seeing the thin blue line catch a douchebag. Given that we deal with so many of them on the road, there's little sympathy from us when some idiot has been pulled over. Sometimes I play a little game I like to call "guess the offence". Sometimes I make them up. It's all fun and hope that the lesson's been learned.

The Kids
Yep, kids get on and they think you're the shit. They wave at you from mum's arms like you're Santa. Yes, some dogs bark, but every single kid loves trams and I always try to wave back at them. 

16 comments:

  1. Aaaaaaaaand how do you go about becoming a tram driver?

    ReplyDelete
  2. awesome, can you please tell me annual salary, I might be interested.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Before you get too excited about the prospect of becoming a tram driver, you might want to wait for the sequel to this entry: Why Working On The Trams Will Make Your Eyes, Ears and Brain Bleed.

    ReplyDelete
  4. HEY!!!! I don't care about the Money!! I actually want to be a Tram driver!!! I love Trains and also Trams!!! How did you apply???

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Stephen, The best way is to keep an eye on their web site. I am not 100% but the heard that in oct 2012 there will be some openings
      Good luck.

      Delete
  5. hey mate can we please get some info about salary and how to become a tram driver passionate about steel wheels

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi Josh. You can make about $100k if you do overtimes and available every now and then on your day offs.
    About how to apply, please see above.

    Good luck

    ReplyDelete
  7. $100K? On what planet is that? I worked regular DOCs and overtime for ages and never got anywhere near there.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi blog owner. I am fascinated by all things trains. I'll be moving to Melbourne very soon and I sure love to become a tram driver. Can you help me?

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm a us driver and want to swap to trams. Can you please tell me the salary NET per week and year on average with and without overtime. Bus drivers earn 23.40 per hour then time and a half after midday Saturday and double time Sunday. So you can see how I'd like to compare. Realistically without killing yourself as a bus driver I can only earn 65k max gross.
    Your help is appreciated

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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    Thanks,
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