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VICTORIANS are increasingly forced to travel in graffiti-laden trains, as brazen vandals treat Melbourne’s public transport system as a canvas.
Vandalism on the Metro network has risen in the last year, with unsightly tagging scrawled on carriage walls and floors, and hoodlum insignia carved into windows.
Now the Public Transport Users Association is calling on Metro to clean up its act, despite commuter satisfaction being at record highs.
Reports of graffiti on the inside and outside of trains have risen to 462 cases in 2013-14 — up 50 from the previous year.
In just one week a frustrated commuter took pictures of every dirty carriage he rode on, with many coated in fresh tagging and stained with juvenile graffiti residue.
Despite the spike in vandalism, Metro’s cleaning expenditure has decreased by almost $1m, from $6.96m in 2012-13 to $5.87m this year.
But Metro spokeswoman Larisa Tait says the train provider still had a $7m budget commitment for cleaning and had remained vigilant in removing graffiti.
PTAU president Tony Morton has given the train operator a spray, saying vandals are hurting public transport users, with defaced trains forced off the network for repairs.
“We frequently have transport planners and experts from overseas who are struck by the state of our trains and trams,” Mr Morton said.
Metro is looking at new ways to remove the marks.
“Even though many of our trains are far newer than in many other cities they often are in worse condition.
“We need to bring our whole public transport system into the 21st century with adequate funding, prioritise public transport in the way the public demand, and treat it seriously as critical infrastructure vital to the city,” he said.
Metro spokeswoman Larisa Tait said vandals had concocted a stubborn chemical using brake fluid, acid and glitter dust which better penetrated the train body’s surface, leaving graffiti scarring.
She said Metro was investigating a new cleaning agent which could better clean ambushed carriages.
“Incidents of vandalism appear to have increased slightly but this is in line with the fact that we are now running more services than ever before,” Ms Tait said.
“For safety reasons we are also restricted by the types of hazardous chemicals we can use to remove graffiti from the inside of trains, which means that a shadow of the graffiti can sometimes be seen.”
Metro urges anyone who sees graffiti being carried out on a train to press the red emergency button on the carriage, or call police or crime stoppers. Any offenders caught face a $289 fine.
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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