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.
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The fine of $289 is laughable, and could be considered a cheap "fun" tax for anyone that gets caught. Most other forms of entertainment are much more expensive, eg $100+ to see a live concert, and 100% chance of paying, compared with $289 for graffiti and perhaps a 1% chance of having to pay. The only other costs are some paint and a myki.
To take this seriously, applying graffiti on railway property should be made of a status similar to a criminal offence. There should be limitations on carrying spray cans of paint and other forms of marking, for example requiring a licence to carry such items (little different from the forms required for photography on rail property). This would allow officers to search for such items in the personal belongings of suspects. For those trespassing on railway land to apply graffiti, there would be protocols that allow police and PSOs to shoot under certain circumstances. If graffiti is elevated in its offence status, such protocols could be used to deter offenders.
Metro's own on-train advertising could be used to greater effect to encourage fellow passengers to report offences while in the act, but there needs to be a much more effective method of reporting. The article says fellow passengers should press the red button. This would be rather obvious to an offender and could lead to the passenger being threatened. It would be much better if passengers were asked through on-train advertising to ring 000 (or a Metro-specific number) and quote the carriage number. Someone talking on a telephone would not be out of the ordinary to the offender, so there is much less risk of being threatened. The Metro control room should have CCTV of all carriages on the network and then be able to see the offender, and have authorised officers or PSO's ready for them at the next station.